Jaffna, the capital of northern Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, Jaffna peninsula

Jaffna city and colonial fort, Jaffna peninsula

Jaffna is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Prior to the Sri Lankan civil war, Jaffna was Sri Lanka’s second most populated city after the commercial capital Colombo. Since the 1980s, insurgent uprisings, military occupations, extensive damage, expulsion and depopulation has brought it’s numbers down significantly.

Historically, Jaffna has been a contested city. It was made into a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation of the Jaffna peninsula in 1619. It changed hands to the Dutch colonials, who lost it to the British in 1796. After Sri Lanka gained independence 1948, the political relationship between the minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese worsened and civil war erupted in 1983. Jaffna was occupied by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1986 and again from 1989 until 1995. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) occupied the city in 1987 when they wrested control from the Tigers. The Sri Lankan military regained control of the Jaffna peninsular in 1995.

Jaffna Sri Lanka

Nallur Kandaswamy Temple Jaffna Sri Lanka

Modern cross-culture with a historical fort

The city’s population are mostly Sri Lankan Tamils who are mainly Hindus. A large number of Moors, Indian Tamils and other ethnic groups who were present in the city prior to the civil war, were forcibly evicted by the Tamil Tigers during the war.

The city of Jaffna is dominated by the Portuguese fort which was rebuilt during the Dutch colonial period and is the home to number of educational institutions established during the colonial and post-colonial periods. It also has number of commercial institutions, minor industrial units, banks, hotels and other government institutions such as the hospital.