Union of Zeylan
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||Sinhalese |
|Minority languages||Malay |
The Union of Zeylan, officially the Union of the Province of Zeylan and Kingdom of Kandy (Dutch: Vereniging van der Provincie Zeylan en het Koninkrijk der Kandie) and commonly called Zeylan (/zeɪˈlɑn/), is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in southern Asia. Its territory comprises of the teardrop-shaped island of Zeylan and surrounding islets. Originating in the Dutch colony on the island in the 17th century, the current government of the country emerged in 1917 with the real union of the Province of Zeylan and the Kingdom of Kandy.
In 1638, King Rajasingha II of Kandy and the Dutch East India Company signed a treaty in order to expel the Portuguese from the island. Both parties subsequently breached the terms, with the Dutch capturing vast swathes of the coast by 1660 and the Kandyan royal court fleeing to the interior.
Throughout the late 17th century and 18th century, several immigrants from the Netherlands, the East Indies, and southern India settled on the island. In 1787, the Kandyan royal dynasty, the House of Dinaraja, went extinct, passing the throne to the Hindu Venad dynasty of the Malabar coast. During the Augustine Wars, the King of Kandy and the Prince of Orange signed a treaty of alliance against the British and French empires. By 1820, after the restoration of stability in the Netherlands, the Dutch had conquered the remaining city states of the island's eastern coast and the last sovereign Wannee principalities of the north.
In 1917, the Treaty of Oudanour (now spelled Oedoenawara) established the Union of Zeylan, creating a real union between the Kingdom of Kandy and the colonial province of Zeylan of the Netherlands.
Government and Politics
Zeylan is one of the most demographically diverse countries in the world owing to its geographic location and political history. The country's population reached 10 million residents around 1950, mostly concentrated in the southwestern quarter of the island. Most Zeylanese are of Sinhalese ethnicity and practice Buddhism, followed by the mostly Hindu Tamils and the Christian-majority Burghers, who make up around 10% and 5% of the population respectively. In order of size, the main minorities include Tamil-speaking Moor, Malay, Chinese, Taulander, and Afro-Zeylanese communities who reside predominately in coastal urban centers.
Dutch remains the language of government and education while Zeylan Creole, a Dutch-based creole, serves as the lingua franca of the island. Sinhalese remains the native language of the majority of the population followed by Tamil. The Burghers of the southwestern coast are the only ethnic group who natively speak a distinct variety of Creole.
List of leaders