est paying jobs. Furthermore, Sinhala, the language of the Sinhalese, became the ofﬁcial Sri Lankan language. The Tamils had hoped that the island’s independence would bring equality to the country, but the cultural differences were just too great. Rioting broke out in 1958, followed by some compromises with the Tamils. The Sinhalese prime minister was assassinated Neal Lineback 1959 and there were ultra-leftist terrorist activities. Finally, in the early 1980s, and Mandy Lineback Gritzner Sinhalese and Tamil separatist violence erupted. The Tamils began calling for a separate Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka, with Jaffna as its capital. In 1983, Tamil guerrillas fought government troops across the north. In 1987 with help from Indian Rebel Tamil Tigers have been ﬁghting the forces, the government secured Jaffna in a Sri Lankan military for almost 25 years in major offensive. their quest for an autonomous state in the The Tamil Tigers evacuated to the deep northern region of Sri Lanka. Recently, the tropical jungles of the hills and mountains, war changed as the army-offensive pushed occasionally reclaiming lost ground. A mathe Tigers into a small jungle area in the jor offensive gave them control of much northeast where as many as 250,000 civilof northern Sri Lanka from 1990 through ians live. 1995. However, government troops battled The government refuses to protect civilback. ians in that area. It has instead designated In 2002, the Sri Lankan government and a “safe zone” for civilians in a 12-squarethe Tamil Tigers formalized a ceaseﬁre, mile (31 sq. km) area withwith Norway brokering Where are the Tamil Tigers? in a larger but gradually peace negotiations. After shrinking Tiger enclave violence again escalated Bombay of 110 square miles (236 in 2006, the government sq. km). Aid workers in ofﬁcially withdrew from the area claim shells have the ceaseﬁre in January Hyderabad Arabian fallen on the safe zone in 2008. Sea recent days, though the Now it looks like the Sri INDIA military and the rebels Lankan government has 2009 deny the bombings. the Tigers exactly where Tamil Range in 2009 Madras The question now reit wants them—trapped Tamil Dominance in 2000 mains whether the military in a small section in the Jaffna can ﬁnish a war that has north of the island. While Bay of plagued Sri Lanka for dethe military advances, Kilinochchi Bengal Jaffna cades, causing some 70,000 the main concern for aid deaths, displacing thouworkers is the survival SRI SRI sands more and preventof the innocents in the LANKA LANKA ing the island’s growth and region. The international Colombo Colombo economic development. community, including The teardrop-shaped isU.S. Secretary of State 0 300 mi land of Sri Lanka is located Hillary Clinton, is urging 0 150 mi INDIAN OCEAN east of the tip of India. With a truce so that humani0 300 km 0 150 km an area of 25,332 square tarian aid can enter the Geography in the News 02/27/09 Source: www.manualinux.com C. Franko/Dahl miles (65,861 sq. km), the area. The Sri Lankan govisland is slightly larger ernment has previously than West Virginia. Locatruled out any ceaseﬁre Sources: GITN #525 “Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers,” June 23, 2000; and ed in the Indian Ocean, Sri and has vowed to crush http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2405347.stm Lanka is 8 degrees north of the rebels. the equator. While most the And that is Geography The Sinhalese and Tamil cultures shared island is relatively ﬂat to rolling, mountains in the News™. February 27, 2009. #978. the island in relative peace from A.D. 1100 do exist in the south-central interior. Co-authors are Neal Lineback, Appalachian Sri Lanka’s climate is tropical monsoon, until independence, despite ethnic and State University Professor Emeritus of with wet and dry seasons. The northern religious differences. However, the TamGeography, and Geographer Mandy Lineback one-third of the island is the Tamil homeils represented a depressed workforce, Gritzner. University News Director Jane land. laboring in the most demanding and lowNicholson serves as technical editor.
SRI LANKA’S TAMIL TIGERS ON LOSING END
The estimated 2008 population for Sri Lanka was over 21 million, with the Sinhalese representing 74 percent of the population, Tamils 9 percent and Moors 7 percent. Another 10 percent are of unspeciﬁed ethnicity. The Sinhalese majority population is a tall, light-skinned people who descended from Aryan tribes from northern India. Mostly Buddhist, their culture is dominant in the southwest portion of the country and in the capital of Colombo. The Tamil minority descended from the smaller, dark-skinned people called the Dravidians found in the southern Indian peninsula. The Tamils are mostly Hindu. The Moors descended from Arab and Portuguese sailors and traders from before the 1600s. In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The Portuguese controlled the coastal areas of the island in the 16th century while the Dutch took over by the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796. Called Ceylon, the island received its independence from the British in 1948, changing its name to the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972.