Jaffna is located on the north of Sri Lanka. It has 129,000 inhabitants, but is greater than that in the minds of many Tamils. The ancient capital of their great kingdom, today it is a symbol of their loss of power to the Sinhalese.

City of Glory

From about 1000 CE, Jaffna was the capital of the Tamil kingdom which covered Sri Lanka and large parts of southern India. Although captured by the Sinhalese about 1450, it was soon taken back by the Tamil and shortly after the kingdom's Golden Era, the reign of King Pararasasekaran, begun. Art and science flourished and the king built several new temples.

City of Decay

The Portuguese arrived, and after a century of battles and compromises took over rule of the city in 1619. Filipe de Oliveira ruled Jaffna as hiw own kingdom, taking care in his great Catholic devotion to burn down as many heathen temples as he could. The Dutch took over in 1658 and the British in 1796.

City of Resistance

Ceylon became free in 1948, but the people of Jaffna did not think much of this freedom. Their city was occupied by the Sinhalese and the Tamil minority felt strongly discriminated. They protested, peacefully at first, but as this did not lead to anything, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took up arms in 1983. The guerrilla has fought a bloody battle ever since, including assassinations and suicide bombings. Since 1996 the government has been in control of Jaffna, imposing a strict curfew on the residents.