The Three Kingdoms – before the advent of the British

Part – 1

There were three kingdoms in the island .The South Western seashore and Southern seashore were administered by the Kotte Sinhalese Kingdom. The central mountain area was taken care of by the Kandy Udarata Sinhalese Kingdom. The East, North and North-West were administered by the Eelamtamil Kingdom.

This situation remained during the arrival of the Europeans in 1505 and even after that. Kotte was the capital of the Sinhala Kingdom, which later fell to the Portuguese in 1505. Nallur was the capital of the Eelamtamil Kingdom. This also fell to the Portuguese in 1619. The Kandy Udaratta Kingdom made Kandy its capital. In AD 1815 this was taken by the English.

When the Portuguese and the Dutch took over the island’s seashores, they ruled the Eelamtamils and Sinhalese separately. The Greek explorer Ptolemy and the British who came later demarcated separately the Eelamtamil and the Sinhala regions. They recorded this. The Sinhalese termed their administration “Rata”. The Tamils named their administration “Vannimai”.

Rajarata, Mayarata, Udarata and Ruhunurata were the areas controlled by the Sinhalese, in their respective administrations.The Eelamtamils controlled and administered the following areas, Yaalpanam, Vanni, Kottiyaaru, Palukamam, Paanamai and Muthusilapam. These are large administrative areas. Within these large areas there are smaller areas called “Koralai” by the Sinhalese, and “Pattu” by the Tamils.

The maps and drawings from the time of Ptomey the Greek explorer and later from the period when the English came to the island, show how they recorded the areas of the Eelamtamils and the Sinhalese separately.

British established Five Provinces in 1833

In 1796 the English took power, after the fall of the Kandian Kingdom. In 1815 the entire island came under English rule. During Dutch rule, one Eelamtamil Kingdom and two Sinhalese Kingdoms were functioning as Tamil administration, seashore Sinhalese administration and Kandian Sinhalese administration.

Later under British rule, these three administrative areas were converted into five provinces. On October 1st 1833 the Colebrook-Cameron reformation was introduced in the island’s Administration. After the reforms in the administration, there came into being five Provinces under one administration, in the island.

1. The Northern Province – Nuvarekalavi. Anuradhpuram, Yaazhpanum, Vavuniya and Mannar remained in the Northern Province. The capital was Yaazhpanum (Jaffna).

2. Eastern Province – Thampankadawai, Vindhanai, Kottiyaru, Palukamam Paanamai. All these included as Tamil zones. Thirukonamalai, Muttur, Mattakaluppu, Bintenne, Wekande, Kumana and Yala were remaind in this province. The capital was Mattakalupu (Batticaloa).

3. The Upper Province. Katpiddi, Puttlam, Chilaw, Neerkozhimpu (Negombo), Kotte, Panandurai, Kalutara, spreading as far as Kurunegala. The capital was Colombo.

4. The Southern Province. Galle, Thangalai, Matarai and Ambanthotai, stretching as far as Ratnapura. The capital was Galle.

5. The Central Province. Kandy, Udunuwara and Uva, which were mountain regions, came under Central Province. Kandy was the capital.

Each of these five provinces had government officials who were answerable to English governors in Colombo.

Later, commencing 1845 the British created Nine Provinces

In 1845 the North Western Province came into being. This consisted of Puttalam, Chilaw and Hotkorala. The capital was Kurunagala.In the year 1873 the North Central Province was created. Nuwarakalawewa district in the Northern Province; Thampankadawai district from the Eastern Province were included in the North Central Province. The Tamil pattu area from the Northern Province was annexed to the North Western Province. The capital was Anuradhapuram.

In 1896 the Uva Province was created. The Central Province’s Baddulla Bintenne were incorporated with Uva. The capital was Baddulla. The nine provinces were ruled from Colombo which was the capital, bringing all the provinces under one rule. This went on from 1833 to 1896.

In this process of amalgamation, the English did not take into account the ancestral heritage and the original homelands(Historical and Traditional) of the nation of Eelamtamils of the island. As a result of this blunder, the genocide came into being in the island.

Anuradhapuram was a Eelamtamil area, this was annexed to Tamil capital Yaalpanam. Thampankadawai was Eelamtamil area but later it was taken away from the Eastern Province and added to the North Central Province. The Eelamtamil area was incorporated into the Northern Western Province. The Eastern Province Bintenne Vannimai were added to Uva Province

In these nine Provinces there were twenty districts. Since 1827 – Eelamtamil and Sinhala populations in the Eastern province (Table is shown on a language basis)

YearTamil SpeakingSinhala Speaking

New changes were made to the borders in 1955 – 25 Districts

New changes were made to the borders in 1955. When a country gets its independence it must make its borders more viable for the sake of progress. The Eastern Province, which was 10,440 square kms, was reduced to 9,931 square kms. It was reduced by 509 Northern Central which measured 10,352 was increased by adding 356 now totalling 10,709 The Uva Province which was 8,160 was increased to 8,478 by adding another 318 to this province. In this process of chop and change, the district of Chilaw disappeared. Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts were newly created.

In 1959 Moneragala District was introduced. In 1963 the District of Amparai came into being. In 1978 the districts of Gampaha and Mullaitivu and in 1984 Kilinochchi, totalling five districts were newly created. Not only the district borders but also the administrative borders were redemarcated. This happened many times.


The total extent of the island is 65,525 of this, 71% of the land is Sinhalese homeland. The Eelamtamils majority live in 29% of the land (1901).

The island’s coastal area measures a total of 1,770 35% of this area is Sinhalese and 65% belongs to the Eelamtamils (1901).

The total population of the island is approximately 180 lakhs, according to the 1881 survey. 66% is Sinhalese, 31% Tamils and 1% who speak other languages (1881).

The total population of the island is approximately 20.359million according to the 2012 survey. 75% is Sinhalese, 20% Eelamtamils (year : 2012)

In 1981, there were 68.5% Buddhists, 16% Saivam, 7.9% Christians and 7.6% Muslims. The island’s total population is 18,000,000.

The fertile areas where the rainfall is plentiful and where there are many mountains, rivers and lakes is land that the Sinhalese claim to be their ancestral homeland. Tea, rubber, coffee and coconut palms grow very well in these regions.The Nation of Eelamtamils in their homeland have to rely on rain brought by the rare winds to cultivate their dry land. There are very few rivers and dams there. 65% of the sea-coast is the ancestral possession of the Eelamtamil nation.

Specific Tamil areas were annexed to Sinhala majority Provinces – Muthusilapam


Muthusilapam Vannimai stretches south of Mannar. It starts at Chilavaththurai as far as Munnesvaram Temple, and extends to the seashore. The border is a river. In this area there are small villages which are inhabited by Eelamtamil pearl divers. They traded and bartered with the Tamils of Thamilaham. The Tamil kings of Yaalpanam also did pearl diving in these beaches. In the early days Tamil kings camped on these shores and dived for pearls. This is recorded in the travel memories of the Arab traveller Ibn Batuta in 1345.

This region (Vannimai) of the seven Korale was annexed to North Western Province. In the year 1833 the Eelamtamil lands amalgamated to the Sinhala land.


In 1833 the Colebrook-Cameron Committee published a sketch of the Bintenne, Panama. The plains of Pattipalai River were indicated as part of the Eastern Province. The Eelamtamil area was Mahaweli, the eastern section of the Mahawali River was shown as its western border. Later in the resettlement and demarcation plan, the Eastern Province lands were annexed to Uva Province and North Central Province. The Pattipolai River plains were almost touching the borders of the province of Matale. The annexing of Bintenne to Uva was a mistake, as was pointed out by the 1976 Provincial Electoral Committee.



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