Sri Lanka profile – Timeline (BBC News)
A chronology of key events:
Fifth century BC - Indo-Aryan migrants from northern India settle on the island; the Sinhalese emerge as the most powerful of the various clans.
mainstay of the economy
Third century BC - Beginning of Tamil migration from India.
1505 - Portuguese arrive in Colombo, marking beginning of European interest.
1658 - Dutch force out Portuguese and establish control over whole island except central kingdom of Kandy.
1796 - Britain begins to take over island.
1815 - Kingdom of Kandy conquered. Britain starts bringing in Tamil labourers from southern India to work in tea, coffee and coconut plantations.
1833 - Whole island united under one British administration.
1931 - British grant the right to vote and introduce power sharing with Sinhalese-run cabinet.
1948 - Ceylon gains full independence.
1949 - Indian Tamil plantation workers disenfranchised and many deprived of citizenship.ightened when parliament considered watering down the Sinhala-only language law in 1958
1956 - Solomon Bandaranaike elected on wave of Sinhalese nationalism. Sinhala made sole official language and other measures introduced to bolster Sinhalese and Buddhist feeling. More than 100 Tamils killed in widespread violence after Tamil parliamentarians protest at new laws.
1958 - Anti-Tamil riots leave more than 200 people dead. Thousands of Tamils displaced.
1959 - Bandaranaike assassinated by a Buddhist monk. Succeeded by widow, Srimavo, who continues nationalisation programme.
1965 - Opposition United National Party wins elections and attempts to reverse nationalisation measures.
1970 - Srimavo Bandaranaike returns to power and extends nationalisation programme.
1971 - Sinhalese Marxist uprising led by students and activists.
1972 - Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka and Buddhism given primary place as country's religion, further antagonising Tamil minority.
1976 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formed as tensions increase in Tamil-dominated areas of north and east.
1977 - Separatist Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) party wins all seats in Tamil areas. Anti-Tamil riots leave more than 100 Tamils dead.
1981 Sinhala policemen accused of burning the Jaffna Public Library, causing further resentment in Tamil community.
1983 - 13 soldiers killed in LTTE ambush, sparking anti-Tamil riots leading to the deaths of several hundred Tamils. Start of what Tigers call "First Eelam War".
Civil war intensifies
1985 - First attempt at peace talks between government and LTTE fails.
1987 - Government forces push LTTE back into northern city of Jaffna. Government signs accords creating new councils for Tamil areas in north and east and reaches agreement with India on deployment of Indian peace-keeping force.
1988 - Left-wing and nationalist Sinhalese JVP begins campaign against Indo-Sri Lankan agreement.
1990 - Indian troops leave after getting bogged down in fighting in north. Violence between Sri Lankan army and separatists escalates. "Second Eelam War" begins.
Thousands of Muslims are expelled from northern areas by the LTTE.
1991 - LTTE implicated in assassination of Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi in southern India.
War and diplomacy