Sri Lanka

Although the major identity components of the Sinhalese are their Sinhalese language and their Buddhist religion, and of the Tamils their Tamil language and their Hindu religion, both these populations share many parallel features of traditional caste, kinship, popular religious cults, customs, and so on. But they have come to be divided by their mythic charters and tendentious historical understandings of their pasts

About 500 BCE
Indo-Aryan peoples migrate to Sri Lanka from the mainland of India.
273 - 232 BCE
Buddhism is brought to Sri Lanka from eastern India and becomes a key part of the identity and unity of Sinhala people.
200 BCE - 1255
Dravidian peoples from south India invade Sri Lanka and settle there. They include the Tamils, who settle in the north and east of the island.
1300 - 1400
A Tamil kingdom is established in Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka, and expands southwards into Sinhalese territories. A tradition of conflict between the two peoples begins – Buddhist Sinhala and Hindu Tamil.
The Portuguese arrive in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan kings seek their help to ward off Indian powers. By 1619 the Portuguese have taken control of both Sinhala and Jaffna kingdoms. Catholic missionaries establish themselves. Most of the nobility convert to Catholicism.
The Sinhalese king of Kandy, the only independent kingdom in Sri Lanka, invites the Dutch to help fight the Portuguese. Following multiple conflicts, in 1645 boundaries between Portuguese and Dutch territory in Sri Lanka are demarcated. The Dutch rule Sri Lanka until 1796. During this time Protestant, Calvinist missionaries establish themselves in Sri Lanka.
The British defeat the Dutch and rule Sri Lanka from Madras in India. After conquering the kingdom of Kandy in 1818, they control the whole island. The British introduce capitalist plantation agriculture to Sri Lanka. English becomes the official language.
1900 - 1948
Sri Lankan Buddhist and Hindu communities try to fight back against the onslaught of Christianity and colonial rule. A shortlived national movement, the Ceylon National Congress, tries to unite Sinhalese and Tamil organisations.
Sri Lanka gains independence. At first it is governed by the United National Party (UNP) representing all ethnic and minority groups. Popular discontent eventually leads to the rise of Sinhala Nationalism under S.W.R.D. Bandanaraike.
1956 - 1972
The UNP is defeated in elections and Bandanaraike’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) comes to power. The Sinhala Only bill is passed, making Sinhala the sole official language and Buddhism the national religion.
Successive Sinhala Nationalist governments take minority educational institutions under state ownership and restrict opportunities to minority Tamils. This sows the seeds of Tamil seccesionist politics.
Sri Lanka becomes a republic.
Distrust between Sinhala and Tamil communities leads to widespread riots and civil war. Militant separatist groups such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - the Tamil Tigers – emerge on the scene and vow to establish a Tamil homeland.
1983 - 2009
The number of civil-war-related deaths in Sri Lanka is estimated at between 70,000 and 80,000. Sri Lankan Tamils migrate in their millions – some to India and others to countries in Europe and the Americas. Those who remain in Sri Lanka are placed in camps and suffer internal displacement.
The Tamil militants are defeated and the war comes to an end. The Tamil Diaspora world-over is estimated to be 887,000.
Sri Lankans in the UK
Prior to the Civil War in the 1980s, it was mainly the Sri Lankan educated elite that migrated to the UK. They included people from both Sinhala and Tamil communities.
From the 1980s, the UK was a preferred destination for Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing the Civil War. By 1991, Sri Lankans were the sixth biggest Asian community in the UK with 39,000 migrants. By the 2011 census, this had increased to 125,717.
1,325 of this number lived in Wales.