Chandrika Kumaratunga was born on 29 June 1945, in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Her father was a senior minister of the government when she was born and later became the prime minister. (Her mother would later serve as the nation's prime minister as well.) She received training in political journalism with Le Monde in Paris and a degree in political science from the University of Paris, where she also studied for a doctorate in development economics. Kumaratunga studied law and group leadership as well. Between 1976 and 1979, she served as an expert consultant with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (UN). Kumaratunga was a guest lecturer at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and Bradford University in the United Kingdom, and a research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. She has authored several research papers on land reform, political violence, and agriculture. Between 1977 and 1985, she served as the chairperson and managing editor of the Dinakara Sinhala, a daily newspaper. Kumaratunga married Vijaya on 20 February1978. She has a son and daughter. She is fluent in Sinhala, English, and French.