Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Sunset over a lagoon
Location within Sri Lanka
Districts of the Northern Province
|Created||1 October 1833|
|Provincial council||14 November 1987|
|• Type||Provincial council|
|• Body||Northern Provincial Council|
|• Governor||Maj Gen G. A. Chandrasiri|
|• Chief Minister||C. V. Vigneswaran|
|• Total||8,884 km2 (3,430 sq mi)|
|• Land||8,290 km2 (3,200 sq mi)|
|Area rank||3rd (13.54% of total area)|
|Population (2012 census)|
|• Rank||9th (5.22% of total pop.)|
|• Density||120/km2 (310/sq mi)|
|• Sri Lankan Tamil||987,692 (93.29%)|
|• Sri Lankan Moors||32,364 (3.06%)|
|• Sinhalese||32,331 (3.05%)|
|• Indian Tamil||6,049 (0.57%)|
|• Other||326 (0.03%)|
|• Hindu||789,362 (74.56%)|
|• Christian||204,005 (19.27%)|
|• Muslim||34,040 (3.22%)|
|• Buddhist||30,387 (2.87%)|
|• Other||968 (0.09%)|
|Time zone||Sri Lanka (UTC+05:30)|
|Telephone Codes||021, 023, 024|
|ISO 3166 code||LK-4|
|Official Languages||Tamil, Sinhala|
|Website||Northern Provincial Council|
The Northern Province (Tamil: வட மாகாணம் Vaṭakku Mākāṇam; Sinhala: උතුරු පළාත Uturu 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 Eastern Province to form the North Eastern Province. The capital of the province is Jaffna. The Sri Lankan Civil War had its roots in this province. It is also known as Sri Lanka's Tamil country.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Administrative units, cities and towns
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Government and politics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Transport
- 8 Education
- 9 Media
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Parts of present day Northern Province were part of the pre-colonial Jaffna kingdom. Other parts were ruled by Vanniar Chieftains who paid tribute to the Jaffna kingdom. The province then came under Portuguese, Dutch and British control. 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 Northern 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 Jaffna, Mannar, Nuvarakalaviya (present day Anuradhapura District) and Vanni formed the new Northern Province. Nuvarakalaviya was transferred to the newly created North Central Province in 1873.
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 Northern 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 2009.
Northern Province is located in the north of Sri Lanka and is just 22 miles (35 km) from India. It is connected with Indian mainland by mythical Adam's Bridge (also known as Sethu Paalam or Rama's Bridge). It has an area of 8,884 square kilometres (3,430 sq mi).
The province is surrounded by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay to the west, Palk Strait to the north west, the Bay of Bengal to the north and east and the Eastern, North Central and North Western provinces to the south.
The province is divided into two distinct geographic areas: Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni. Jaffna peninsula is irrigated by underground aquifers fed by wells whereas the Vanni has irrigation tanks fed by perennial rivers. Major rivers include: Akkarayan Aru, Aruvi Aru, Kanakarayan Aru, Kodalikkallu Aru, Mandekal Aru, Nay Aru, Netheli Aru, Pali Aru, Pallavarayankaddu Aru, Parangi Aru, Per Aru, Piramenthal Aru, Theravil Aru.
Northern Province is covered in tropical forests, with numerous rivers flowing through them. The north-west coast is part of the deep Cauvery (Kaveri) River Basin of south-east India, which has been collecting sediments from the highlands of India and Sri Lanka since the breakup of Gondwanaland.
Climate and weather
Sri Lanka enjoys a typical tropical monsoonal climate. The Northern Province tends to be hot and dry in the dry season (February to September), and moderately cool and wet in the wet season (October to January). The province's climate is of the tropical kind and therefore during monsoons there is always the chance of a deluge. In the lowlands the climate is typically tropical with the average temperature is around 28° to 30° for the year. However, on the whole, January is the coolest month and May is the hottest month. Relative Humidity varies from 70% during the day to 90% at night. The Dry Zone of the Sri Lanka is the north and east of the island, this region is affected by the north east monsoon(December to March) and southwest monsoon (June to October). It is thought to be dry because most of the rains fall during the north-east monsoon.
Annual rainfall is less than 1250 mm in the north west and south east of the Inland. It has two rainy seasons South West Monsoon- May to August, North East Monsoon- November to February.
Administrative units, cities and towns
|Population (2012 Census)||Population
|Sri Lankan Tamil||Sri Lankan Moors||Sinhalese||Indian Tamil||Other||Total|
|Mannar||Mannar||M. Y. S. Deshapriya||5||153||1,996||1,880||80,568||16,087||1,961||394||41||99,051||50|
|Vavuniya||Vavuniya||M. K. Bandula Harischandra||4||102||1,967||1,861||141,269||11,700||17,191||1,292||59||171,511||87|
Major cities and towns
The population of the province, like that of the Eastern 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. Most of the Sri Lankan Moors and Sinhalese who lived in the province fled to other parts of Sri Lanka or were forcibly expelled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, though most of them have returned to the province since the end of the civil war.
Government and politics
According to the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka, The Governor is the Constitutional head of the province while the Chief Minister is the head of the government and the head of the council of ministers. The Chief Justice of the High Court is the head of the judiciary.
The Parliamentary representatives from the province are elected through
- Two Electoral Districts, namely Jaffna Electoral District and Vanni Electoral District which elects 15 of the 225 members of the Sri Lankan Parliament.
Provincial Government is not is functioning in Northern Province at present. It is ruled directly from the Central government. Most of the governors were retired army generals.
- Major General G.A. Chandrasiri was sworn in as the Governor of Northern Province with effect 12 July 2009. Local political parties are pushing for more autonomy for the province. Vast executive powers held by the governors who are appointed by the President, is the drawback of the provincial council. According to the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka, High courts should be set up in each province and police and land powers should be granted to provincial governments. But these specifications are not in effect currently.
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.
The north-east was ruled directly from Colombo until May 2008 when elections were held in the demerged Eastern Province. However, the Northern Province continues to be ruled from Colombo. More than 20 years after the introduction of provincial councils the people of the Northern Province remain the only ones in Sri Lanka who have never a cast a vote to elect their provincial council. This is despite the fact that the provincial councils were only established to satisfy the demands for autonomy by the Tamils, the majority of whom live in the Northern Province.
- Tamil National Alliance is a Sri Lankan Tamil political alliance in Sri Lanka. It was formed as an amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties as well as number of former rebel groups. It has participated in elections since 2001. The alliance supports self-determination in an autonomous state for the island's Tamils. It also supported negotiations with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to resolve the civil war in Sri Lanka. Three of its sitting Members of the Parliament K. Sivanesan, Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadarajah Raviraj have been assassinated since 2006.
- The Eelam People's Democratic Party is a political party and a Paramilitary organization in Sri Lanka. It is led by its founder Douglas Devananda.
Majority of the people earn their livelihood as farmers, fishers and professionals in the civil and business sectors. Small scale industry such as chemical, light manufacturing and textiles were present before the civil war.
Northern Province being an agricultural dominant province, where agricultural sector is 25.9% and trade sector comes next to it is 19.3%. Most of the people engaged in service sector covering 31.2% of the total.
Gross State Domestic Product in Rs. Crores and Current Prices
|Year||GSDP||Change||Share of Sri Lanka|
Transport infrastructure in the province is poorly developed and limits economic activity. Most people still use bullock carts for transportation.
Major roads in Province are divided into two categories:
- A Class roads or National Highways - Maintained and controlled by Central Government.
- B Class roads or Provincial Highways - Maintained and controlled by Provincial Government.
There are number of underdeveloped C and D Class roads in the province.
Most of the railways were developed during the British colonial period.
The railway lines between Vavuniya, Jaffna, and Kankesanthurai and between Medawachchiya and Talaimannar were destroyed during the civil war. Currently the Northern Line operates south of Omanthai, while the Mannar Line operates between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road. Both lines are under reconstruction to restore the original network and upgrade the operating technology used.
Airways and airports are underdeveloped in this province. Palaly Airport is the primary airport in the province, once an international airport that had regular passenger flight service to Colombo and Trichirapalli, India. It is under the control of the Sri Lanka Navy now. Daily flights between Colombo and Jaffna are available. There are a few small airports and airstrips in Vavuniya and Iranamadu.
The Northern Province has one university, the University of Jaffna which became independent in 1979, previously having been a campus of the University of Sri Lanka since 1974. The university has approximately 7,000 students. The province is known for its institutions of education, many of which were established by Christian missionaries.
|Districts||No. of Schools (1981)||No. of Schools (2006)|
The first newspaper in Jaffna, Uthayatharakai (Morning Star) was published in 1841 by C.W. Thamotharampillai By the 1940s, daily newspapers had already been started Eelakesari and Virakesari in 1930 and Thinakaran in 1932 and journals committed to the growth of modernistic, socially purposive literature Bharati and Marumalarchi in 1946 had also started coming out.
Few newspapers are published in the province now in the principal language of Tamil. None in English and Sinhala. Before the Civil war commenced dozens of newspapers and magazines were published. Press freedom is limited and mostly censored by Government and Pro-government paramilitaries. Now most of the Tamil, English, Sinhala magazines come from Colombo and Chennai, India.
- Sri Lankan Tamil and Indian Tamil.
- Sri Lankan Moors and Indian Moors.
- 2001 Census was only carried out partially in the Northern province.
- Excludes Maritimepattu, Puthukudiyiruppu and Thunukkai divisions - no data available.
- Excludes Maritimepattu and Puthukudiyiruppu divisions - no data available.
- Roman Catholic and Other Christian.
- "Area of Sri Lanka by province and district". Statistical Abstract 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
- "A2 : Population by ethnic group according to districts, 2012". Census of Population & Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
- "A3 : Population by religion according to districts, 2012". Census of Population & Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
- "Provinces of Sri Lanka". Statoids.
- "Provincial Councils". Government of Sri Lanka.
- "A trip to Sri Lanka's Tamil country". BBC News. 22 August 2009.
- de Silva, K. M. (1981). A History of Sri Lanka. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. xvii.
- Mills, Lennox A. (1933). Ceylon Under British Rule (1795 - 1932). London: Oxford University Press. pp. 67–68.
- Medis, G. C. (1946). Ceylon Under the British (2nd (revised) ed.). Colombo: The Colombo Apothecaries Co. pp. 39–40.
- Medis, G. C. (1946). Ceylon Under the British (2nd (revised) ed.). Colombo: The Colombo Apothecaries Co. p. 84.
- "Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 1987". Tamil Nation.
- "The Constitution". Government of Sri Lanka.
- "North-East merger illegal: SC". LankaNewspapers.com.
- Sambandan, V. S. (14 November 2003). "Sri Lanka's North-East to remain united for another year". The Hindu.
- [dead link]
- "Sri Lanka: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population". World Gazetteer.
- "Up to 100,000 killed in Sri Lanka's civil war: UN". ABC News (Australia). 20 May 2009.
- Harrison, Frances (23 July 2003). "Twenty years on - riots that led to war". BBC News.
- "Enumeration of Vital Events 2011 - Northern Province". Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
- "Statistical Information 2010". Northern Provincial Council.
- "Population by religion and district, Census 1981, 2001". Statistical Abstract 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
- Ethnic Conflict of Sri Lanka: Time Line - From Independence to 1999, ICES
- Sri Lanka" The Untold Story by K T Rajasingham (via Asia Times)
- I'm no traitor, says Perumal, Sunday Island 10 September 2000
- Bhattacharjya, Satarupa (17 January 2010). "Indian Railways makes a beeline for the Lankan tracks". The Sunday Times.
- "Agreement for supply and installation of Signaling & Telecommunication system for Northern railway network". Asian Tribune. 18 August 2011.
- University of Jaffna, About Us
- The Hindu : The first Madras graduate
- Wholesale attack on Tamil newspapers, Journalist kidnapped
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||Palk Strait||Bay of Bengal||Bay of Bengal|
Gulf of Mannar
|Bay of Bengal|
|North Western Province||North Central Province||Eastern Province|