Famous Sri Lankan Leaders

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Sri Lanka maybe a small island country in South Asia but that doesn’t mean it is unimportant. The country, popularly known as the tear drop of India due to its shape, is the largest exporter of tea in the world. Did you know that cinnamon which you so fondly use in your daily food owes its roots in Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka’s deep harbours and its strategic geographic location made it an important seat during the World War II. It has a high human development index. Much of that has been possible due to its leaders who have played a quintessential role in putting Sri Lanka as one of the most important countries in the world map. Prior to the current presidential system, Sri Lanka had a parliamentary system until 1978. The Prime Minister was vested with executive powers while the role of the President was largely ceremonial. However, in 1978, the constitution changes introduced by J.R Jayewardene empowered President with executive powers, thus making the position of the Prime Minister nominal. Jayewardene presided over Sri Lankan governmental affairs for more than ten years before being taken over by Ranasinghe Premadasa who was later assassinated. Chandrika Kumaratunga was the first female President to serve the country from 1994 until 2005. Maithripala Sirisena currently serves as the President of Sri Lanka. Check this section to know more about famous Sri Lankan leaders.
Vote for Your Favourite Sri Lankan Leaders
 1 
Ranil Wickremasinghe
(9th President of Sri Lanka)
Ranil Wickremasinghe
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Former Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe was born into a family of print media moguls and grew up to become an advocate. The United National Party leader had also been in the news for his rounds of peace talks with the LTTE. He is married to academic Maitree Wickremasinghe.

 2 
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
(Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (1960 - 1965, 1970 - 1977, 1994 - 2000))
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
3
Birthdate: April 17, 1916
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mahawalathenna, Sri Lanka
Died: October 10, 2000
Sirimavo Bandaranaike served as the prime minister of Sri Lanka and was the world's first female prime minister. She was initially married to prime minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and participated in charitable work for rural women. She joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party after her husband’s assassination.
 3 
Mahinda Rajapaksa
(President of Sri Lanka)
Mahinda Rajapaksa
13
Birthdate: November 18, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Weeraketiya
The highlight of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political career as the Sri Lankan president was ending the 30-year-old civil war with the Tamil Tigers. The Freedom Party member lost the 2015 election but came back to power as the leader of the Sri Lanka People's Front, becoming the country’s prime minister. 
 4 
Chandrika Kumaratunga
(5th President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005))
Chandrika Kumaratunga
3
Birthdate: June 29, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Chandrika Kumaratunga is a Sri Lankan politician who became the first female president when she was elected as the president of Sri Lanka in 1994. Having served as the president from 1994 to 2005, Kumaratunga is the only female Sri Lankan president to date. She also served as the head of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party from 1994 to 2006. 

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 5 
Ranasinghe Premadasa
(Third President of Sri Lanka)
Ranasinghe Premadasa
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1924
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Died: May 1, 1993

Ranasinghe Premadasa was a Sri Lankan politician who served as the third president of Sri Lanka from 1989 to 1993. Before serving as the president, Premadasa served as the prime minister of Sri Lanka from 1978 to 1989. In 1986, he became the first Sri Lankan to receive the prestigious Sri Lankabhimanya, the country's highest civilian award.

 6 
Arul Pragasam
(Sri Lankan Tamil Activist and Revolutionary)
Arul Pragasam
4
Birthdate: April 13, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: affna, Sri Lanka
Died: December 3, 2019

Arul Pragasam was a Sri Lankan Tamil activist and revolutionary. He played an important role in the formation of the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students during the Tamil independence movements in England. The movement, which originated in Sri Lanka, aimed at securing an independent Tamil state in the island country due to the oppression of Sri Lankan-Tamils by the government.

 7 
Maithripala Sirisena
(President of Sri Lanka)
Maithripala Sirisena
6
Birthdate: September 3, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sri Lanka

Former president of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, son of a World War II veteran, first stepped into politics with the Ceylon Communist Party and then led the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. A probe into the 2019 church bombings in Sri Lanka found he had ignored prior hints about the attack.

 8 
C. W. W. Kannangara
(Sri Lankan Politician Who Played an Important Role in the Sri Lankan Independence Movement)
C. W. W. Kannangara
3
Birthdate: October 13, 1884
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Died: September 23, 1969

C. W. W. Kannangara was a Sri Lankan politician and lawyer. He played an important role in the Sri Lankan independence movement, a peaceful political movement aimed at achieving freedom from the British Empire. As a lawyer, C. W. W. Kannangara defended many political prisoners during the Riots of 1915 and later served as the President of Ceylon National Congress.

 9 
D. S. Senanayake
(First Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)
D. S. Senanayake
4
Birthdate: October 20, 1883
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mirigama
Died: March 22, 1952

Sri Lanka’s first prime minister, D. S. Senanayake, was the son of a plantation owner and graphite miner and was raised as a devout Buddhist. An amateur cricketer in school, he later took to rubber planting and formed the cooperative-society movement. He rejected the honor of a knighthood.

 10 
J. R. Jayewardene
(2nd President of Sri Lanka (1978-1989), 7th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (1977-1978))
J. R. Jayewardene
6
Birthdate: September 17, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Died: November 1, 1996

J. R. Jayewardene was a Sri Lankan politician and leader. He served as the prime minister of Sri Lanka from 1977 to 1978 and then went on to serve as the country's second president from 1978 to 1989. A controversial figure, Jayewardene's actions have been recognized as a contributing factor to the commencement of the Sri Lankan Civil War.

 11 
Sarath Fonseka
(Former Chief of the Defence Staff of Sri Lanka)
Sarath Fonseka
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ambalangoda

Sarath Fonseka is a Sri Lankan former politician and army officer. He served as the Commander of Sri Lanka Army during the Sri Lankan Civil War and is credited with ending the 26-year war in 2009 by defeating Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. After serving as the Commander, Sarath Fonseka briefly served as Chief of the Defence Staff in 2009.

 12 
Velupillai Prabhakaran
(Sri Lankan Tamil Militant and the Founder and Leader of the LTTE)
Velupillai Prabhakaran
14
Birthdate: November 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Valvettithurai
Died: May 19, 2009

Velupillai Prabhakaran was a Sri Lankan Tamil militant best remembered for founding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which aimed at creating a separate Tamil state in the east and north of Sri Lanka. His actions, which were triggered by the oppression of Sri Lankan Tamils, resulted in the infamous Sri Lankan Civil War.

 13 
Ranjan Ramanayake
(One of the Most Popular and Celebrated Sri Lankan Actors of His Generation)
Ranjan Ramanayake
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Negombo, Sri Lanka

Ranjan Ramanayake is a Sri Lankan former politician, film director, actor, script writer, and singer. He achieved immense popularity during the 1990s, when he appeared in many Sinhala language films. One of the most popular and celebrated Sri Lankan actors of his generation, Ranjan Ramanayake has won numerous awards, including nine Sarasaviya Awards.

 14 
Vijaya Kumaratunga
(One of the Most Prominent Icons of Sri Lankan Cinema)
Vijaya Kumaratunga
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1945
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka
Died: February 16, 1988

Vijaya Kumaratunga was a Sri Lankan actor, politician, and playback singer. He is often counted among the most prominent icons of Sri Lankan cinema. Vijaya Kumaratunga was also an important politician and is credited with founding the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party. From 1978 until his murder in 1988, Vijaya Kumaratunga was married to former President Chandrika Kumaranatunga.

 15 
Rosy Senanayake
(Sri Lankan Politician, Former Beauty Queen and Current Mayor of Colombo)
Rosy Senanayake
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Rosy Senanayake is a Sri Lankan politician, activist, and former beauty queen. She is currently serving as the Mayor of Colombo. A prominent political figure, Rosy Senanayake served as the State Minister for Child Affairs in 2015. She also served as Prime Minister's Spokesperson from 2015 to 2018.

 16 
Malini Fonseka
(Sri Lankan Actress)
Malini Fonseka
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Peliyagoda, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Malini Fonseka is a Sri Lankan actress who achieved national prominence in 1969, when she received the Best Actress Award at the National State Drama Festival. Referred to as the Queen of Sinhalese cinema, Malini Fonseka also contributed immensely to Sri Lankan theatre and television. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including 11 Sarasaviya Awards.

 17 
J.B. Jeyaretnam
(Sri Lankan-born Singaporean Lawyer, Politician, and Judge)
J.B. Jeyaretnam
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Died: September 30, 2008

J.B. Jeyaretnam was a Sri Lankan-born Singaporean lawyer, politician, and judge. He is best remembered for his association with the Workers' Party, where he served as Secretary-General from 1971 to 2001. In 2008, J.B. Jeyaretnam also served briefly as the Secretary-General of the Reform Party.

 18 
Henry Montgomery Lawrence
(Surveyor in British India Who Founded Military-Style Boarding Schools in India)
Henry Montgomery Lawrence
2
Birthdate: June 28, 1806
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Matara, Sri Lanka
Died: July 4, 1857

Henry Montgomery Lawrence was a British statesman, administrator, military officer, and surveyor in British India. He is best remembered for founding The Lawrence Military Asylums, a series of military-style boarding schools. Three of these schools exist today in present-day India and Pakistan.

 19 
Anarkali Akarsha
(Sri Lankan Actress, Model, TV Host, Singer, and Politician)
Anarkali Akarsha
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1987
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Anarkali Akarsha is a Sri Lankan actress, model, TV host, singer, and politician. She achieved popularity in 2004, when she was crowned Miss Sri Lanka. In addition to appearing in films and teledramas, Anarkali Akarsha has also worked as a fundraiser and brand ambassador.

 20 
Thileepan
(Sri Lankan Tamil Revolutionary Who was a Prominent Member of the Militant Organization LTTE)
Thileepan
1
Birthdate: November 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Died: September 26, 1987

Thileepan was a Sri Lankan Tamil revolutionary and a prominent member of the militant organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He died at age 23 after refusing food and water for 12 days as part of his hunger strike in front of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in 1987. Thileepan’s statue, which was built in 1988, was later destroyed by the army.

 21 
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
(Former President & Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
3
Birthdate: February 15, 1916
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Polgahanga, Sri Lanka
Died: September 21, 2008

Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was a Sri Lankan political leader best remembered for his service as the President of Sri Lanka from 1993 to 1994. An influential politician, he also served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 1989 to 1993. In 1993, Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was honored with the prestigious Sri Lankabhimanya, Sri Lanka's highest civilian honor.

 22 
Vanushi Walters
(Sri Lankan-born New Zealand Politician and Lawyer)
Vanushi Walters
3
Birthdate: 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sri Lanka

Vanushi Walters is a Sri Lankan-born New Zealand politician and lawyer. She is currently serving as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Upper Harbour as a representative of the Labour Party. A human rights lawyer, Vanushi Walters has also worked for non-profit and community organizations.

 23 
Gamini Fonseka
(One of the Greatest Actors in the History of Sinhala Cinema)
Gamini Fonseka
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dehiwala, Sri Lanka
Died: September 30, 2004

Gamini Fonseka was a Sri Lankan actor, politician, and film director. He achieved popularity during the 1960s and 1970s and is often counted among the greatest actor in the history of Sinhala cinema. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including 14 Sarasaviya Awards. Also a prominent politician, Fonseka was the Governor of North Eastern Province from 1995 to 1998.

 24 
Upeksha Swarnamali
(Sri Lankan Actress and Politician)
Upeksha Swarnamali
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kuwait

Upeksha Swarnamali is a Sri Lankan actress and politician. She is best known for her performance in a TV series titled Paba. A former member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Upeksha Swarnamali also served as the Monitoring Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion after being appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 25 
Ravindra Randeniya
(Sri Lankan Actor)
Ravindra Randeniya
2
Birthdate: June 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dalugama, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Ravindra Randeniya is a Sri Lankan actor best known for his performance in the 1972 Lester James Peries' movie Desa Nisa. He achieved immense popularity during the 1970s and 1980s and has won six Sarasaviya Awards so far. Ravindra Randeniya is also credited with hosting a popular quiz show called Mind Star on ITN.

 26 
Jeewan Kumaranatunga
(Sri Lankan Actor and Politician)
Jeewan Kumaranatunga
2
Birthdate: November 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seeduwa, Sri Lanka

Jeewan Kumaranatunga is a Sri Lankan actor and politician. He is known for his service as the Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Lands & Land Development, as well as Minister of Posts & Telecommunication between 2000 and 2015. As an actor, Jeewan Kumaranatunga has played important roles in films like Rathu Makara, Asipatha Mamai, and Gedera Budun Amma.

 27 
Pavithra Wanniarachchi
(Sri Lankan Politician and Lawyer)
Pavithra Wanniarachchi
2
Birthdate: November 10, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sri Lanka

Pavithra Wanniarachchi is a Sri Lankan politician and lawyer. She is currently serving as the Minister of Transport as well as the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine. Over the course of her illustrious political career, Pavithra Wanniarachchi has presided over several offices, including the office of the Minister of Plan Implementation and Minister of Technology and Research.

 28 
Neelan Tiruchelvam
(Sri Lankan Tamil Academic, Lawyer, Politician, and Human Rights Activist)
Neelan Tiruchelvam
2
Birthdate: January 31, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Died: July 29, 1999

Neelan Tiruchelvam was a Sri Lankan Tamil academic, lawyer, politician, and human rights activist. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential researchers on constitutional theory and constitutional law in Sri Lanka. Neelan Tiruchelvam is best remembered for his role in the Sri Lankan Civil War, during which he advocated a peaceful resolution.

 29 
Udaya Gammanpila
(Sri Lankan Politician, Computer Engineer, and Lawyer)
Udaya Gammanpila
2
Birthdate: February 6, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nawalapitiya, Sri Lanka

Udaya Gammanpila is a Sri Lankan politician, computer engineer, and lawyer. He is best known for his service as the Minister of Energy from 12 August 2020 to 3 March 2022. A prominent political figure, Udaya Gammanpila has also served as the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, Industries and Environment for the Western Province.

 30 
Adeline Molamure
(The First Elected Female Legislator & the First Woman to Serve as a Member of State Council of Ceylon)
Adeline Molamure
1
Birthdate: 1890 AD
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Died: 1977 AD

Adeline Molamure was a Sri Lankan politician best remembered as the first elected female legislator and the first woman to serve as a member of State Council of Ceylon. Adeline Molamure is also remembered for her association with the Senate of Ceylon, where she served as the Deputy President.