Eastern Province, Sri Lanka
Sunset over Batticaloa Lagoon
Location within Sri Lanka
|Created||1 October 1833|
|Provincial council||14 November 1987|
|• Type||Provincial council|
|• Body||Eastern Provincial Council|
|• Governor||R.Adm Mohan Wijewickrama|
|• Chief Minister||M. N. Abdul Majeed|
|• Total||9,996 km2 (3,859 sq mi)|
|• Land||9,361 km2 (3,614 sq mi)|
|• Water||635 km2 (245 sq mi) 6.35%|
|Area rank||2nd (15.24% of total area)|
|Population (2012 census)|
|• Rank||6th (7.66% of total pop.)|
|• Density||160/km2 (400/sq mi)|
|• Sri Lankan Tamil||609,584 (39.29%)|
|• Sri Lankan Moors||569,182 (36.69%)|
|• Sinhalese||359,136 (23.15%)|
|• Indian Tamil||7,711 (0.50%)|
|• Other||5,768 (0.37%)|
|• Muslim||575,936 (37.12%)|
|• Hindu||539,570 (34.78%)|
|• Buddhist||354,772 (22.87%)|
|• Christian||80,801 (5.21%)|
|• Other||302 (0.02%)|
|Time zone||Sri Lanka (UTC+05:30)|
|Telephone Codes||026, 063, 065, 067|
|ISO 3166 code||LK-5|
|Official Languages||Tamil, Sinhala|
|Website||Eastern Provincial Council|
The Eastern Province (Tamil: கிழக்கு மாகாணம் Kil̮akku Mākāṇam; Sinhala: නැගෙනහිර පළාත Næ̆gĕnahira Paḷāta) is one of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka, the first level administrative division of the country. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was temporarily merged with the Northern Province to form the North Eastern Province. The capital of the province is Trincomalee.
In 1815 the British gained control of the entire island of Ceylon. They divided the island into three ethnic based administrative structures: Low Country Sinhalese, Kandyan Sinhalese and Tamil. The Eastern Province was part of the Tamil administration. In 1833, in accordance with the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission, the ethnic based administrative structures were unified into a single administration divided into five geographic provinces. The districts of Batticaloa, Bintenna (part of present day Badulla District), Tamankaduva (present day Polonnaruwa District) and Trincomalee formed the new Eastern Province. Tamankaduva was transferred to the newly created North Central Province in 1873 and Bintenna was transferred to the newly created Uva Province in 1886.
The Indo-Lanka Accord signed on 29 July 1987 required the Sri Lankan government to devolve powers to the provinces and, in the interim, to merge the Northern and Eastern provinces into one administrative unit. The accord required a referendum to be held by 31 December 1988 in the Eastern Province to decide whether the merger should be permanent. Crucially, the accord allowed the Sri Lankan president to postpone the referendum at his discretion.
On 14 November 1987 the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987, establishing provincial councils. On September 2 and 8 1988 President Jayewardene issued proclamations enabling the Northern and Eastern provinces to be one administrative unit administered by one elected Council. The North-East Province was born.
The proclamations were only meant to be a temporary measure until a referendum was held in the Eastern Province on a permanent merger between the two provinces. However, the referendum was never held and successive Sri Lankan presidents issued proclamations annually extending the life of the "temporary" entity.
The merger was bitterly opposed by Sri Lankan nationalists. The combined North-East Province occupied one fourth of Sri Lanka. The thought of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam controlling this province, directly or indirectly, alarmed them greatly. On 14 July 2006, after a long campaign against the merger, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna political party filed three separate petitions with the Supreme Court requesting a separate provincial council for the East. On 16 October 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that the proclamations issued by President Jayewardene were null and void and had no legal effect. The North-East Province was formally de-merged into the Northern and Eastern provinces on 1 January 2007.
Much of the Eastern Province was under the control of rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for many years during the civil war. The entire province was recaptured by the Sri Lankan military in 2007.
The Eastern Province has received at least $500 million from international donors since coming under the control of the government of Sri Lanka in 2007, according to the International Crisis Group. Communities in the Eastern Province still suffer from insecurity in the form of illegal taxes, political killings, abductions, and instances of rape. Many community members blame government security forces but also government-backed paramilitary groups such as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP).
Eastern province has an area of 9,996 square kilometres (3,859 sq mi).
Administrative units, cities and towns
|Population (2012 Census)||Population
|Sri Lankan Tamil||Sri Lankan Moors||Sinhalese||Indian Tamil||Other||Total|
|Ampara||Ampara||Neel De Alwis||20||507||4,415||4,222||112,750||282,484||251,018||165||1,640||648,057||147|
|Batticaloa||Batticaloa||P. S. M. Charles||14||348||2,854||2,610||381,285||133,844||6,127||1,015||2,871||525,142||184|
|Trincomalee||Trincomalee||T. Thissa Ranjith de Silva||11||230||2,727||2,529||115,549||152,854||101,991||6,531||1,257||378,182||139|
Major cities and towns
The Eastern province's population was 1,551,381 in 2012. The province is the most diverse in Sri Lanka, both ethnically and religiously.
The population of the province, like that of the Northern Province, was heavily affected by the civil war. The war killed an estimated 100,000 people. Several hundred thousand Sri Lankan Tamils, possibly as much as one million, emigrated to the West during the war. Many Sri Lankan Tamils also moved to the relative safety of the capital Colombo. The conflict has also caused some of the Tamils, Moors and Sinhalese who lived in the province to flee to other parts of Sri Lanka, though most of them have returned to the province since the end of the civil war.
Government and politics
The 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. The first elections for provincial councils took place on 28 April 1988 in North Central, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, and Uva provinces.
Elections in the newly merged North-East Province were scheduled for 19 November 1988. However, the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), which at that time occupied the North-East Province, rigged the elections in the north so that the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) and Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), two Indian backed paramilitary groups, won all of the 36 seats in the north uncontested. However, elections did take place for the 35 seats in the east. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won 17 seats, EPRLF 12 seats, ENDLF 5 seats and the United National Party 1 seat. On 10 December 1988 Annamalai Varatharajah Perumal of the EPRLF became the first Chief Minister of the North-East Provincial Council.
On 1 March 1990, just as the IPKF were preparing to withdraw from Sri Lanka, Permual moved a motion in the North-East Provincial Council declaraing an independent Eelam. President Premadasa reacted to Permual's UDI by dissolving the provincial council and imposing direct rule on the province.
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- I'm no traitor, says Perumal, Sunday Island 10 September 2000
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