The Dutch Fort was the first to fall to the British in 1796. The Dutch ceded all their possessions in Sri Lanka to the British in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens. It is to be remembered, however, that even earlier contacts between the Kandyan King and the English in Madras had taken place by way of Jaffna.
The British maintained the separate identity of the Tamil area until 1833. In that year, the British unified the Tamil regions with the Sinhalese areas for the purpose of administration, spelling an end to the “autonomous existence” of the Tamil regions and forming a “single political authority the government of Ceylon”
It is a valid assertion that “throughout the British colonial period, the Sinhalese and the Tamil people remained equal in their subordination to the British raj.”
The advent of the British ushered in an era of modernization for Sri Lanka. Free education was introduced and those who benefited most from this were the people of Jaffna. Young men were able to enter the civil, clerical and professional services in large numbers. In 1948, when the country was granted independence, the Tamils, mostly from the North, occupied roughly thirty percent of all posts available in government services. At the University of Ceylon, too, more than one fourth of the places was occupied by the Tamils.