Mahinda Rajapaksa Biography

Mahinda Rajapaksa, a Sri Lankan politician and former President, is widely respected for his dedication to his country and strong ethical values. With a background in law, he began his political career as a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka and went on to serve as the Minister of Labour and Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Known for his defense of human rights, Rajapaksa was elected as the Prime Minister in 2004 and later became the country’s fifth Executive President in 2005. During his presidency, he successfully led the Sri Lankan army in defeating the extremist militant group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), bringing peace to the nation.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa
  • Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Shiranthi Rajapaksa
    • Father: D. A. Rajapaksa
    • Siblings: Basil Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
    • Children: Namal Rajapaksa, Rohitha Rajapaksa, Yoshitha Rajapaksa
  • Lawyers
  • Presidents
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), 6’0″ Males
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
  • Education: Richmond College, Nalanda College, Sri Lanka Law College, Thurstan College, Nalanda College, Colombo

Childhood & Early Life

Percy Mahendra “Mahinda” Rajapaksa was born on 18 November 1945 in Weerakatiya, Southern Province, British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He came from a family of prominent politicians, with his father, D. A. Rajapaksa, serving as a Member of Parliament and a Cabinet Minister, and his uncle being a State Councillor. Rajapaksa attended Richmond College in Galle before moving on to Nalanda College in Colombo. He later studied at Thurstan College.


Rajapaksa was elected to the Parliament in 1970 at the age of 24, becoming its youngest ever member. He also studied law at the Colombo Law College during the 1970s and received his degree in 1974. After losing his parliamentary seat in 1977, he focused on his law career and became a successful lawyer in Tangalle. He continued practicing law while also pursuing his parliamentary career.

In 1989, Rajapaksa was re-elected to Parliament to represent Hambantota District under Proportional Representation. He gained prominence as a politician during this time for his defense of human rights. After the election victory of the People’s Alliance in 1994, he was appointed as the Minister of Labour, a position he held until 1997. He was then appointed as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources following a cabinet reshuffle.

In March 2002, Rajapaksa was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition after the United National Party defeated the People’s Alliance in the 2001 elections. In 2004, the United People’s Freedom Alliance gained a slim majority in the Parliamentary Elections, and Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 13th Prime Minister. He also held the Ministry of Highways during his tenure as Prime Minister.

Rajapaksa was chosen by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to contest the Presidential election in 2005 against former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Despite a strong campaign by the United National Party, Rajapaksa won a narrow victory and became the President of Sri Lanka on 19 November 2005. He also took on the portfolios of Defence and Finance in the new cabinet. During his presidency, he dealt with the threat posed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a terrorist group, and successfully defeated them in 2009.

After serving for two terms, Rajapaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena in the 2015 Presidential Elections.

Major Works

Rajapaksa is best known for his leadership role in ending the 30-year war against the militant group LTTE, one of the most extreme terrorist organizations in the world. Under his direction, the Sri Lankan army defeated the LTTE in 2009, bringing an end to their reign of terror.

Awards & Achievements

Rajapaksa has received several honorary doctorates for his contributions to world peace and his success in defeating terrorism. He was conferred with a Doctor of Law from the University of Colombo in September 2009, an Honorary Doctorate from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in February 2010, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Beijing University of Foreign Languages in China in 2011.

Personal Life & Legacy

Rajapaksa married Shiranthi Wickremasinghe, a child-psychologist and educator, in 1983. The couple has three sons, Namal, Yoshitha, and Rohitha. His son Namal has followed in his father’s footsteps and become a politician.

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