In May 2009, the government defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending more than 25 years of civil war on the island once known as Ceylon. Nearly all those displaced during the conflict have been resettled. Since the end of the conflict, the government has enacted ambitious economic development projects, many financed with loans from the Chinese government.
The persecution of Christians has escalated in recent years with the rise of militant Buddhist nationalist groups in Sri Lanka. More than 250 churches have been destroyed or damaged in sectarian violence. Although the constitution guarantees religious freedom while favouring Buddhism, minority Protestants have experienced violent persecution as well as discrimination in employment and education. Just over one percent of the population is Evangelical Christian. For many years the JHU party, which is controlled by Buddhist monks, has pushed for legislation making conversion from Buddhism to Christianity illegal. While several bills have been introduced, they have not passed court and legislative challenges.