History, British Rule
Treaty of Amiens, national freedom, representative government, expeditionary force, Napoleonic Wars
In 1795, following the occupation of The Netherlands by France, the British government dispatched an expeditionary force against Sri Lanka. The Dutch capitulated early in the next year, and in 1798 the British made all the island, except the kingdom of Kandy, a crown colony. By the provisions of the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, which terminated the second phase of the Napoleonic Wars, the country was formally ceded to Britain. The kingdom of Kandy was also occupied in 1803 and annexed to the crown colony in 1815. The British period of rule was marked by abortive native rebellions in 1817, 1843, and 1848. Tea and rubber estates were developed. In this period violent social-religious struggles between the Sinhalese peasants, mostly Buddhists, and the moneylenders and traders, chiefly Muslims, also occurred, and all the native peoples struggled continuously for representative government and national freedom. The first substantial victory in the struggle for self-government came after more than one century, when, in 1931, Britain promulgated a new constitution that granted the indigenous people semiautonomous control over national affairs.
During World War II (1939-1945) Sri Lanka was an important base of operations in the Allied offensive against the Japanese and a major source of rubber, foodstuffs, and other materials vital to the war effort.
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