History of Sri Lanka (documented) is more than 3,000 years, but Archaeologists claim that Sri Lanka was definitely inhabited by humans prior to that even going back to 700,000 BC. This web page provides very valuable evidence from all over the world to prove this claim. You will also find detailed information about the Sri Lankan and the parallel world’s history from the beginning of the humans.
Five million years ago, Human-like Apes lived in Africa. They developed into humans over a period of 2-3 million years. During the ice age, which began around 2.5 million years BC, these humans started to walk over the frozen landscape.
One Million Years BC Humans migrate from Africa to the rest of the world
Sri Lanka is known as Lanka--the "resplendent land"--in the ancient Indian epic b Ramayana, the island has numerous other references that testify to the island's deep history, natural beauty and wealth. Islamic folklore maintains that Adam and Eve were offered refuge on the island as solace for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Asian poets, noting the geographical location of the island and lauding its beauty, called it the "pearl upon the brow of India." A troubled nation in the 1980s, torn apart by communal violence, Sri Lanka has more recently been called India's "fallen tear."
Some of the highlights and evidence of the inhabited by humans in Sri Lanka are;
123,000 BC - Oldest human found in Lanka - Pathirajawela in the deep South. A student from Bundala Central school recovered the oldest Lankan human’s remains and his stone tools in Pathirajawela in Deep south, near Ambalantota. This Lankan had lived 20,000 years before the Niandathal inhabited the earth. It has been estimated, at an international average, that the population density for Lanka, at the time was 0.8-1.5 per SqKm in dry zone and 0.1 in wet zone. They had lived in groups of 1-2 families, not in large groups due to scarcity of food. With this proof of pre-historic settlement in Lanka, Patirajawela also exposed a flake and stone tool industry belonging to 125,000 to 75,000 BC. This meant that the Lankans had already started their long journey towards civilisation.
80000 BC - 2nd oldest human found in Lanka - Bundala in the deep South These people made tools of quartz (and a few on chert). Apart from such tools, no other remains had survived the ravages of time and tropical weathering.
30500 BC Fa-Hien cave - 3rd oldest Lankan human found in the Largest natural cave in South Asia Over 150 feet in height, 282 feet long, Pahiyangala can accommodate over 3000 humans. It was home to a large community. 3rd oldest Lankan human proves world's oldest proof of consumption of rice, Kurahan, salt Female body-remains found near BulathSinhala, proved the consumption of rice, kurahan, and salt. The Archaeologists named her Kalu-Menika. It was proof that 20,000 years before the world, Lankans have gone agricultural. It was also the first anatomically modern human found in whole of South Asia.
Click here to read the history of Sri Lanka and what took place in the world from 700,000BC to 483 BC
483 BC - Arrival of Aryans to Sri Lanka
In 483 BC Kingdom of Thambapanni is founded by Vijaya as North Indians mix into the Lankan community Vijaya landed in Sri Lanka near Mannar, and met a local girl named Kuveni. She introduced Vijaya to the local chief, Mahakalasena who ruled from the town of Lankapura. He invited Vijaya and the migrant group, to the seven days long wedding feast of his daughter. Noticing the unpreparedness of the local defences during the wedding festival, Vijaya and the followers killed many of the local officials, including Mahakalasena and grabbed the power. Refusing to accept Vijaya's rule, a lot of Sihalese (As Lankans were known at the time) withdrew to the jungles of the hill country. They blamed Kuveni for bringing the strangers into the kingdom. Vijaya realized that he should win the hearts and the minds of the people of Lanka if he was to continue to live in Lanka. Thus, the compromise between Vijaya and the Lankans took place. From here onwards, the north Indians would mix into the Sinhalese community as equals.
Vijaya takes the chief queen from North India Vijaya's ministers advised him to select a noble bride from North India as the chief queen. They proposed a princess from Madura Pura, south of Singhapura in Punjab. MaduraPura, inhabited by Ksatriya cast (mix of Sakyas and the Deva casts who refused to marry anyone from outside) was renown for beautiful maidens at the time. Many North Indian princes took brides from there. This beautiful princess from a kshastriya tribe of the Aryans arrived in Mannar with a large band of tradesmen and maidens. Earlier it was argued that this princess came form the Pandyan kingdom, and that she was the daughter of the Pandu King, who was from a kshastriya tribe of the Aryans who migrated from Madhya Pradesh. But it has been rejected. Among the many reasons it has been rejected is that there was no such royalty or advanced kingdom, which is linked, to the North Indians, developed in south India at the time.
History of Sri Lanka from 483 BC to 246 BC
Arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka
In 246 BC Mihindu Thero, son of Emperor Asoka meets Lankan king On 16th May, 246 BC, Lankan king Devanampiyatissa went on his regular Royal hunting in the 450-acre Royal National Park of four mountains, each of them, over 1000 feet tall. He got separated from his friends as he chased a deer. On one of the four mountains, he met Mihindu thero (Son of Emperor Asoka), and the Buddhist party despatched by the Emperor Asoka himself. The famous questions to check if the king had the wisdom to understand Buddhism were asked by Mihindu thero. Then, Lankan king listened, and asked questions, and by daybreak, became a Buddhist. People flock to A'pura to listen to Bana People from all over the country who came to listen to the Buddhist teaching by Mihindu Thero flooded Anuradapura. Over 8500 people embraced Buddhism during the first week alone. 55 members of the prime ministers family became Buddhist monks. Buddhism then took root as the formal belief system of the island. This was how Lankans were able to concentrate as a nation, voluntarily, to advance to become one of the developed nations in the world.
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History of Sri Lanka from 246 BC to 777 AD
Under the rule of Rajaraja's son, Rajendra (1018-35), the Chola Empire grew stronger, to the extent that it posed a threat to states as far away as the empire of Sri Vijaya in modern Malaysia and Sumatra in Indonesia. For seventy-five years, Sri Lanka was ruled directly as a Chola province. During this period, Hinduism flourished, and Buddhism received a serious setback. After the destruction of Anuradhapura, the Chola set up their capital farther to the southeast, at Polonnaruwa, a strategically defensible location near the Mahaweli Ganga, a river that offered good protection against potential invaders from the southern Sinhalese kingdom of Ruhunu. When the Sinhalese kings regained their dominance, they chose not to reestablish themselves at Anuradhapura because Polonnaruwa offered better geographical security from any future invasions from southern India. The area surrounding the new capital already had a well- developed irrigation system and a number of water storage tanks in the vicinity, including the great Minneriya Tank and its feeder canals built by King Mahasena (A.D. 274-301), the last of the Sinhalese monarchs mentioned in the Mahavamsa.
King Vijayabahu I drove the Chola out of Sri Lanka in A.D. 1070. Considered by many as the author of Sinhalese freedom, the king recaptured Anuradhapura but ruled from Polonnaruwa, slightly less than 100 kilometers to the southeast. During his forty-year reign, Vijayabahu I (A.D. 1070-1110) concentrated on rebuilding the Buddhist temples and monasteries that had been neglected during Chola rule. He left no clearly designated successor to his throne, and a period of instability and civil war followed his rule until the rise of King Parakramabahu I, known as the Great (A.D. 1153-86).
Parakramabahu is the greatest hero of the Culavamsa, and under his patronage, the city of Polonnaruwa grew to rival Anuradhapura in architectural diversity and as a repository of Buddhist art. Parakramabahu was a great patron of Buddhism and a reformer as well. He reorganized the sangha (community of monks) and healed a longstanding schism between Mahavihara--the Theravada Buddhist monastery--and Abhayagiri--the Mahayana Buddhist monastery. Parakramabahu's reign coincided with the last great period of Sinhalese hydraulic engineering; many remarkable irrigation works were constructed during his rule, including his crowning achievement, the massive Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakrama or Parakrama Tank). Polonnaruwa became one of the magnificent capitals of the ancient world, and nineteenth-century British historian Sir Emerson Tenant even estimated that during Parakramabahu's rule, the population of Polonnaruwa reached 3 million--a figure, however, that is considered to be too high by twentieth-century historians. Parakramabahu's reign was not only a time of Buddhist renaissance but also a period of religious expansionism abroad. Parakramabahu was powerful enough to send a punitive mission against the Burmese for their mistreatment of a Sri Lankan mission in 1164. The Sinhalese monarch also meddled extensively in Indian politics and invaded southern India in several unsuccessful expeditions to aid a Pandyan claimant to the throne.
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History of Sri Lanka from 777 AD to 1216 AD
DECLINE OF THE SINHALESE KINGDOM - Sinhalese Migration to the South
After Nissankamalla's death, a series of dynastic disputes hastened the breakup of the kingdom of Polonnaruwa. Domestic instability characterized the ensuing period, and incursions by Chola and Pandyan invaders created greater turbulence, culminating in a devastating campaign by the Kalinga, an eastern Indian dynasty. When Magha, the Kalinga king, died in 1255, another period of instability began, marking the beginning of the abandonment of Polonnaruwa and the Sinhalese migration to the southwest from the northern dry zone. The next three kings after Magha ruled from rock fortresses to the west of Polonnaruwa. The last king to rule from Polonnaruwa was Parakramabahu III (1278- 93). The migration is one of the great unsolved puzzles of South Asian history and is of considerable interest to academics because of the parallel abandonment of dry-zone civilizations in modern Cambodia, northern Thailand, and Burma.
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History of Sri Lanka from 1216 AD to 1505 AD
Arrival of Portuguese to Sri Lanka
On 15th Nov'1505 Don Lourenco De Almeida arrives in Colombo by accident, Sinhalese see Cannons, wine, bread for the first time. They are taken to Kotte taking 3 days to cover 6 miles. After evaluating the situation, Portuguese planned to grab the international trade from the Muslims. They will in the coming years will exploit Lankans into the depths of infamy, & leave a story of shameful sadism & cruelty the Lankans have never heard of before in rulers of Lanka. Their behaviour creates a continuous dislike of the Whiteman within Sinhalese who will lose all they were ever proud of, including the good principles of life which made Sinhalese a distinctive race. Portuguese will first appear as merchants, then as fanatical cruel missionaries who will shock Lankans (who have a certain impression on religious monks), then finally they would turn to trade again.
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History of Sri Lanka from 1505 AD to 1638 AD
Arrival of Dutch to Sri Lanka
In 1638 Dutch makes the deal with Lankan King Dutch had the largest merchant fleet in the world. They had the latest and superior equipment, arms & ammo than Portugese who were a declining power. They recruited mercenaries from Scandinavia and Germany when manpower was needed. After several visits made by the Dutch envoys through the east coast, Sinhala king Rajasingha-2 decided to enter into the treaty proposed by the Dutch. It looked like a mutually beneficial one. Dutch insisted on the monopoly of spice trade, specially cinnamon. Sinhala king was to reimburse the cost of the war, back to the Dutch over the years. Lankan King was under the impression that he was hiring mercenaries to get rid of Portuguese. The Dutch only used Lanka with meanness, and false respect and humbleness, which fooled the Sinhalese who judged people on what they say.
History of Sri Lanka from 1638 AD to 1796 AD
The British replace the Dutch
1796 British takes Colombo: They break the promise given to Lanka British Navy advanced along the coast to Negombo, and then on foot they crossed Kelani river to reach Colombo. They humiliated the Lankan army by sending them back to Kandy, saying that they were not needed. British also sent the Lankan army units that took Matara from the Dutch on the 2nd February, back within 22 days. On 15 the February 1796, British took Colombo from the Dutch without resistance. Then British broke the promise given to the Lankan King. The British had only used Kandy to tie the Dutch troops in forts. Thus the joint elements of British East India co. and British Government took the entire coastline and the land 20 miles to the interior. Lanka was faced with the most powerful enemy in the world then.
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History of Sri Lanka from 1796 AD to 1948 AD
The institutions of Buddhist-Sinhalese civilization in Sri Lanka came under attack during the colonial eras of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Most Sinhalese regard the entire period of European dominance as an unfortunate era, but most historians--Sri Lankan or otherwise--concede that British rule was relatively benign and progressive compared to that of the Dutch and Portuguese. Influenced by the ascendant philosophy of liberal reformism, the British were determined to anglicize the island, and in 1802, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) became Britain's first crown colony. The British gradually permitted native participation in the governmental process; and under the Donoughmore Constitution of 1931 and then the Soulbury Constitution of 1946, the franchise was dramatically extended, preparing the island for independence two years later.
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1948 onwards --
Since Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948, successive governments have been freely elected. Sri Lanka's citizens enjoy advanced health standards, a long life expectancy, and one of the highest literacy rates in the world despite the fact that the country has one of the lowest per capita incomes.
In the years since independence, Sri Lanka has experienced severe communal clashes between its Sinhalese majority-- approximately 74 percent of the population--and the country's largest minority group, the Sri Lankan Tamils and comprise nearly 13 percent of the population. The communal violence that attracted the harsh scrutiny of the international media in the mid to late 1980s can best be understood in the context of the island's complex historical development--its ancient and intricate relationship to India's civilization and its more than four centuries under colonial rule by European powers.
During the time of first post independence Prime Minister, Don Stephen (D.S.) Senanayake, the country managed to rise above the bitterly divisive communal and religious emotions that later complicated the political agenda. Senanayake envisioned his country as a pluralist, multiethnic, secular state, in which minorities would be able to participate fully in government affairs. His vision for his nation soon faltered, however, and communal rivalry and confrontation appeared within the first decade of independence. Sinhalese nationalists aspired to recover the dominance in society they had lost during European rule, while Sri Lankan Tamils wanted to protect their minority community from domination or assimilation by the Sinhalese majority. No compromise was forthcoming, and as early as 1951, Tamil leaders stated that "the Tamil-speaking people in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct from that of the Sinhalese by every fundamental test of nationhood."
In 1956, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (S.W.R.D.) Bandaranaike successfully challenged the nation's Westernized rulers who were alienated from Sinhalese culture; and he became prime minister. A man particularly adept at harnessing Sinhalese communal passions, Bandaranaike vowed to make Sinhala the only language of administration and education and to restore Buddhism to its former glory. The violence unleashed by his policies directly threatened the unity of the nation, and communal riots rocked the country in 1956 and 1958. Bandaranaike became a victim of the passions he unleased. In 1959 a Buddhist monk who felt that Bandaranaike had not pushed the Buddhist-Sinhalese cause far enough assassinated the Sri Lankan leader. Bandaranaike's widow, Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias (S.R.D.) Bandaranaike, ardently carried out many of his ideas. In 1960, she became the world's first woman prime minister.
Communal tensions continued to rise over the following years. In 1971, Sinhalese extremists carried out a massive arms struggle against the government but lost their way after Mrs Bandaranaike, ordering an all out offensive against these extremists finally causing thousands of deaths young Sinhala youths. In 1972 the nation became a republic under a new constitution, which was a testimony to the ideology of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and Buddhism was accorded special status. These reforms and new laws discriminating against Tamils in university admissions were a symbolic threat the Tamil community felt it could not ignore, and a vicious cycle of violence erupted that has plagued successive governments. Tamil agitation for separation became associated with gruesome and highly visible terrorist acts by extremists, triggering large communal riots in 1977, 1981, and 1983. During these riots, Sinhalese mobs retaliated against isolated and vulnerable Tamil communities.