Sri Lanka

  • Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


Archaeological evidence suggests Sri Lanka has been inhabited since at least the Mesolithic era 34,000 years ago, possibly by ancestors of the Vedda people, small numbers of whom live in the central highlands. The island’s recorded history begins in 483 BC, when, according to the Sinhalese chronicle Mahavamsa, several hundred men led by Vijaya, a prince from Bengal, reached the island. Anuradhapura was founded in 377 BC, becoming the principal settlement. Introduced in 250 BC by the Indian Emperor, Ashoka, Buddhism was gradually adopted, becoming central to the developing Sinhalese culture even while its influence in India declined. Elaborate irrigation systems enabled rice cultivation and brought prosperity to the northern plain around Anuradhapura, which became a target for south Indian raiders. South Indian Chola kings controlled Anuradhapura in the second century BC until King Dutugemunu wrested control in 161 BC.


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Further Reading

  1. De Silva, C. R., Sri Lanka: a History. 1991Google Scholar
  2. McGowan, W., Only Man is Vile: the Tragedy of Sri Lanka. 1992Google Scholar
  3. Nira, Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identity. 2005Google Scholar
  4. Winslow, Deborah and Woost, Michael D., Economy, Culture and Civil War in Sri Lanka. 2004Google Scholar
  5. National Statistical Office: Department of Census and Statistics, POB 563, Colombo 7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

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