The historical background of local government system in Sri Lanka is illustrated well through chronicles and inscriptions. There are many examples for them.
The term “පුග” found is many inscriptions and which has the meaning “cooperation” explains the fact that this term refers to a cooperation which was incharge of rural administration in the Pre Christian eras.
Mahawansa states that, with the invasion of Vijaya his ministers established villages and towns in their names and also king Pandukabaya demarcated all villages in whole Sri Lanka.
The terms like Gambojaka, Paramaka, Nagara Guttika (equal to modern mayor). Nagara waddaki( equal to modern town designer) which appear in Mahawansa and again as found in another inscription the term Purakamata (Sanskrit = Purakarmastha which equals to modern municipal commissioner) bear testimony to the tact that such posts existed in the ancient local government institutions
Mahiyangana Hopitigamuwa slab inscription nof king Udaya II (AD 942-952) includes regulations that should have been observed by state offices, merchants and residents. This slab inscription which has been identified as a detailed statute on the use of sealed scales, weights and measures and mercantile holidays which reminds modern by laws.
Wewal Katiya inscription of king Mahinda IV (AD 953-969) is a royal order which describes about ‘dasagam’ administration.
In this manner the local government activities evolved migrated to south- west direction and underwent many changers with the invasion of the country by Europeans.
Important mile stones in the evaluation of local government system from the British period to modern local government system can be mentioned as follows.
Whole country was divided into five provisions and each to be administered under the government agent. This was done under the recommendation of the 1835 Colbrooke commission
1866- Established municipal council in Colombo and Kandy
1871- Established village committees
1892- Established Sanitary boards.
1898- Established provincial boards
1948-Established minor unborn councils instead of sanitary boards.
1928- Established local government department under the recommendation of Donamor commission