Jaffna is the headquarters of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative capital of the district of Jaffna, situated on a peninsula of the very same name. With a population of 88,138 in 2012, Jaffna is the 12th most populated city in the country. Jaffna is roughly six miles (9.7 kilometers) from Kandarodai, which acted as a shop next door in the Jaffna Peninsula of classical antiquity. The suburbs of Jaffna, Nallur, acted as the headquarters of the four-century-long feudal kingdom of Jaffna. 

It was Sri Lanka’s second-most populous city after Colombo before the Sri Lankan revolutionary war. 

Explorer Jaffna Fort - Things to do in Jaffna
Explore Jaffna - Things to do in Jaffna
Nallur Kandiswamy Kovil - Attractions in Jaffna
Attractions and Places to Visit in Jaffna
Jaffna Travel Guide

Jaffna Governance

The City of Jaffna is administered by the Municipal Council of Jaffna. It was created by the Municipalities Ordinance Act of 1865. While other towns, like Kandy, Galle, and Colombo, had appointed municipal councils shortly after the Ordinance of 1865, Jaffna had no elected municipal council for several years. This represented the British administrators’ ability to rule the city explicitly instead of sharing influence with a strongly literate populace. Cathiravelu Ponnambalam was the first elected mayor. A number of following mayors have been killed, such as Alfred Duraiappah, Pon Sivapalan, and Sarojini Yogeswaran. Since 1983, there have been 15 years between voting.

The post-civil war polls were conducted in 2009 after a period of 11 years. The local council is made up of 29 members. As the first building of the municipal council was demolished during the civil conflict, a new building for the present municipality is to be built in 2011.

Geography and climate of Jaffna in Sri Lanka

The region is bounded by Jaffna Lagoon to the west and south, Nallur to the east, and Tirunelveli to the north.  The Jaffna Peninsula is built of limestone because it was buried under the sea mostly during the Miocene period. The limestone is of a gray, yellow, and white porous form. The whole landmass is flat, lying at sea level. The island of Mandaitivu, which is linked by a causeway, lies within a mile (1.6 km) of the city center. Palmyrah meadows can be found where land has not been utilized for building purposes. Another prominent plant is a leafless shrub named talai (alae africana) and kootenai (oleander).

Jaffna has a tropical savanna climate with summer months between February and August and a rainy season between September and January. Jaffna has the maximum mean temperature of 83 ° F (28 ° C) in Sri Lanka. The temperature is maximum in the periods of April-May and August-September. The climate is coolest between December and January. The average precipitation is triggered by the North East Monsoon and ranges from one location to another, and even from year to year. The annual rainfall in the western part of the Jaffna Peninsula is 50 inches.

Economy and Transport of Jaffna in Sri Lanka

The city of Jaffna was established as a trade city by European merchants. While the ancient port used by the native kingdom of Jaffna was still in place when the Portuguese came, it was the European mercantile enterprise that made it famous. In colonial times, the manufacture of garments, gold and silver products, tobacco manufacturing, rice, and other related activities became a significant part of economic activity. In recent days, the port was the primary source of income, but it has deteriorated sharply. It currently survives as a fishing port. The city had a broad variety of industries, including food production, printing, household products, and salt production, but most of them ceased after 1995. Since then, most industrialists, traders, and business people have migrated to the rest of Sri Lanka and abroad.

After 2009, international governments in the EU, the US, India, and businessmen from the south of the island and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora displayed an interest in investing in the Jaffna district in general and in Jaffna in particular. Shopping centers, such as Cargills Square and hotels such as Jetwing Jaffna, Tilko Jaffna City Hotel have been designed to improve the tourism sector in the city.

Jaffna Demography

Historically, the inhabitants of Jaffna were Tamils, Moors (Muslims), Europeans, and Eurasian Burghers. With time, the demographic shifted, with the predominant Tamils and Moors and the European people and Burghers either integrating or going abroad. Europeans and locals were residing in different areas of the region. Most of the homes were small in size and the roads were kept clean. After the 1900s the population increased and the Sinhalese from the south even settled in Jaffna. Before the civil war, Moors, Indian Tamils, Sinhalese, and other ethnic groups were residing in Jaffna.

During the colonial era, Jaffna was the second-largest city in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). After freedom, the town was surpassed by the growth of settlements around Colombo. But even in 1981, Jaffna was the biggest city outside the Greater Colombo region. The population of Jaffna, like the majority of the North and East, has been badly impacted by the civil war. Many of its Tamil inhabitants had moved the family to the West or relocated to the relative safety of Colombo. The remaining Moorish and Sinhalese community of the town had either been violently displaced or fled. As a result, the density of the area is considerably smaller than it was 30 years before. Many of the city’s inhabitants who fled after the civil war settled elsewhere and are reluctant to return. Since the end of the civil war in 2009, of the relocation of those people who wish to return to Jaffna, some significant attempt has yet been made to do so.

Impressive buildings in Jaffna

Much of the ancient buildings, such as the Temples, the Saraswathi Mahal Library, and the Palaces of the Royal City of Nallur and the majority of the Jaffna Peninsula, were demolished by the Portuguese natives. Components from demolished structures have been used for the development of the Jaffna Fort and other barricades. Cankilian Thopu, or the gate to the Palace of Cankili I and Mantri Manai, or the Palace of the Governor, are some of the pre-colonial structures still remaining in the royal quarters of Nallur.

Inside the city of Jaffna, the Dutch Fort is a formidable fortress, accompanied by several Dutch-era residences, churches, and civic buildings, several of which were destroyed during the civil conflict. There is a range of impressive structures in the British colonial period, including the Indo-Saracenic clock tower and the Public Library. All the Hindu temples in Jaffna, such as the socially significant Nallur Kandaswamy temple, were rebuilt during the Dutch and British eras.

Apart from the notable buildings listed above, local and foreign travelers are very interested in the best places to visit in Jaffna and things to do in Jaffna.