Sri Lanka History: British Colonial History

Figure 1.--This photograph wa taken in British colonial Ceylon. The location and date is unavailable, but was probably taken in the 1890s. There seems to be some kind of celebration in progress. Notice the Sri Lankan boy who seems to be wearing some kind of British school uniform with a boater. Notice thebright hat band. he islands first modern infrasructure, including the rairoads came with the Britih in the 19th century.

The French Revolution had a huge impact on European colonial empires. While French armies dominated Europe, especially, after the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Royal Navy pressed its advantage at sea. French armies seized the Netherlands. Britain proceeded to seize Dutch possessions around the world. The British seized the Dutch settlements in Ceylon (1795-96). The British made Ceylon a Crown Colony (1802). The British finally defeated Kandy and thus control the entire island (1815). They quickly moved to establish a unified administration for the island (1818). The British unlike the Portuguese and Dutch began a major effort to develop Ceylon. They opened coffee, cinnamon, and coconut plantations. And they launched major road and rail construction projects. The modern infrastrucvture of Sri Lanka was laid by the British. English became used as a language of commerce and educaton and is still widely spoke in Sri Lanka. Coffee became the principal crop. A leaf blight destroyed coffee plants (1870s). Planters turned to tea and rubber. Tea continues to be a major crop. British plantation owners offered extremely low wages. Many Sinhalese refused to acceot the wages and poor working conditions on the British plantations, The British thus imported more compliant workers from south India. During the British colonia era, many Sinhalese peasants in the hill country lost land, finding it diffifult to compete with the plantations which used low-paid labor.


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Created: 10:37 PM 3/20/2013
Last updated: 10:38 PM 3/20/2013