History and People of Sri Lanka

The cultural and historical past of Sri Lanka is reflected in the many names by which it was known. In pre-history it was called Lanka, the Greeks called it Taprobane, the Arabs Serendib, the Portuguese Ceilao and to the British it was Ceylon. Its history is a rich tapestry of invaders, settlers and colonizers. Evidence of prehistorical settlements in Sri Lanka are recorded in the prehistorical myth of Ravana, King of Lanka and the archaeological discoveries of Balangoda man. According to ancient texts such as the Dipvamsa and Mahavamsa, a few hundred years before Christ, settlers from India came to Sri Lanka and formed settlements near rivers effectively launching the Hydraulic Civilization. The Ancient and Medieval History of the island is dotted with the beginnings of Buddhism, the rise of kingship, wars and rebellions. Thereafter the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British marked over 400 years of European colonization. In 1948 Ceylon threw off the shackles of Colonialism and by 1972 had declared itself a Republic. The people of Sri Lanka are multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. From the indigenous Veddhas to the majority Sinhalese ethnic group, Tamils, Moors, Burghers and many other minority communities contribute to shaping and making the Sri Lankan nation.

History of Sri Lanka
People of Sri Lanka

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