Come February Fourth, we'll all collectively be celebrating how former Ceylon gained independence from the Colonialists who introduced tea, railroads, and English to our little island nation. Despite dealing with a 30-year long civil war, corrupt governments and terrible traffic, we've also got a few milestones that do us proud.
- 1948: We formed our first government soon after Independence, a UNP one with DS. Senanayake appointed as the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Or Ceylon, as it was called then.
- 1960: Preceding most of the world in terms of gender equality in this particular instance, Sri Lanka was the first country to appoint a female Prime Minister. All hail Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
- 1976: Under PM Bandaranaike's tenure, SL was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, and hosted the 5th Summit of Non-Aligned Nations. We also occupied the chair for three years after that.
- 1985: We were also one of the founders of the South Asian Association for Regional Development (SAARC). Sure we're not getting the same benefits from it as our other South Asian counterparts (easy visas and all that? nope), but what to do.
Mentioning the year itself is sufficient because everyone already knows what happened in '96. WE WON WE WON WE WON! This glorious moment is re-lived every time we've made it to the semis and the finals in World Cups.
- 2009: Eradicated terrorism. Yes, there are a lot of politics behind it and why the LTTE formed in the first place, but for a little country which had just a ceremonial army at the beginning to one that defeated one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world, that's something.
- 2013: Sri Lanka hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Some of the decorations are still up (near aluth paalama).
- 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO) declares SL as a malaria-free country. Woo!
- 2016: HIV discrimination is prohibited, by the Supreme Court. This was the result of a school refusing admission to a child who they assumed was HIV positive, even after tests proved negative.
SL made headlines as one of the top places for tourists to visit.
Here's to many more milestones ahead, clearer roads, and better services. Happy Independence Day!