Sri Lanka History


With a total area of 66,000 square kilometers, Sri Lanka, a land like no other is tucked away with astonishing surprises with magnificent beaches, rain forests, traditional villages, tea plantation, rich cultural and heritage wonders, evergreen hillside, paddy fields, tasteful cuisine and beauty of nature and wildlife. Sri Lanka is world renowned for its hospitality, people, warmth and welcoming souls.


With a history stretching back to 543 BC, the first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka in the 6th century BC and a great civilization was developed in Anuradhapura, the first kingdom of Sri Lanka from 22 BC to 1000 AD followed by the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa from 1070 to 1200 and in the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil Kingdom in Northern Sri Lanka.

After the last Kingdom of Kandy, the island was invaded and controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and the Dutch in the 17th century. The Island was thereafter ruled by the British in 1796 and was made a crown colony in 1802 and as united under British rule by 1815. Ancient Ceylon was thereafter became an independent nation in 1948 where the name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC where Indian King Siddartha Gautama where in India it was established three centuries earlier. Thereafter King Asoka’s son Mahinda introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka at Mihintale where King Devanampiya Tissa became a powerful patron of Buddhism and introduced the monastery of Mahavihara which set the foundation for Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was also the first nation to write the Buddhist Bible in palm leaves that contributed towards the prestige in the Buddhist world. King Devanampiya Tissa was believed to have received the right collarbone and revered alms bowl of Lord Buddha from King Asoka and to have built the Thuparamaya Dagoba to honor the highly revered relics. While Buddha’s sacred tooth relic arrived in Sri Lanka in 4th century AD and the possession of the Tooth Relic came to be regarded as essential for the legitimization of Sinhalese royalty and remained so united its capture and probable destruction by the Portuguese in 1560.

King Asoka’s daughter Sanghamitta is recorded as having brought to the island a branch of the sacred Bo tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. According to legends, the tree that grew from this branch is near the ruins of the ancient city of Anuradhapura in the north of Sri Lanka.


The British Colony in Sri Lanka negotiated the island’s dominion status with the leader of the State Council, D.S. Senanayake, during World War Two. Senanayake was also minister of agriculture and vice chairman of the Board of Ministers. The negotiations ended with the Ceylon Independence Act of 1947, which formalized the transfer of power. Senanayake was the founder and leader of the United National Party (UNP), a partnership of many disparate groups formed during the Donoughmore Period, including the Ceylon National Congress, the Sinhala Maha Sabha and Muslim League. The UNP easily won the 1947 elections, challenged only by a collection of small, primarily leftist parties. On February 4, 1948, when the new constitution went into effect making Sri Lanka a dominion, the UNP embarked on a ten-year period of rule.

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