Rajapaksa was born in Palatuwa in the Southern District of Matara and raised in Medamulana in the District of Hambantota. He hails from a well known political family in Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa had his entire education at Richmond College, Galle. As a student he played Soccer for the School and was an Athlete. Having left school he joined the Public Service.
Entered the Public Service of Sri Lanka as a Police Officer serving in the Police Force for more than eight years. Served the State Trading General Corporation as the Asst. General Manager before getting into active politics in 1985.
Contested the by-election held in 1985 for Mulkirigala Electorate.
Entered Parliament in 1989 as a Member of Parliament of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party representing Hambantota District. Has been a Member of Parliament continuously since 1989, retaining his seat in all elections held to date.
Prior to the present appointment as Speaker of the Parliament he has held the following portfolios.