Prehistory of Sri Lanka The pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back , years and possibly even as far back as , years. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of anatomically modern humans which they have named Balangoda Man , and other evidence  suggesting that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game.
The 19th-century Irish historian James Emerson Tennent theorized that Galle , a city in southern Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory , peacocks , and other valuables. Pre-Anuradhapura period Main article: Ancient cemeteries that were used before BC and other signs of advanced civilization has also been discovered in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan dynastic history ended in , when the island became part of the British Empire. Thereafter, Anuradhapura served as the capital city of the country for nearly 1, years.
It is probable that many of the scriptures from Nalanda are preserved in Sri Lanka's many monasteries and that the written form of the Tipitaka , including Sinhalese Buddhist literature, were part of the University of Nalanda. Bodhivamsa  Invasions Sri Lanka first experienced a foreign invasion during the reign of Suratissa , who was defeated by two horse traders named Sena and Guttika from South India.
Dutugemunu , the eldest son of the southern regional sub-king, Kavan Tissa , defeated Elara in the Battle of Vijithapura. He built Ruwanwelisaya , the second stupa in ancient Sri Lanka, and the Lovamahapaya. These invaders were all subsequently driven back. Kala Wewa and the Avukana Buddha statue were built during the reign of Dhatusena. The council was held in response to a year in which the harvests in Sri Lanka were particularly poor and many Buddhist monks subsequently died of starvation.
Later periods Frescoes on the Sigiriya rock fortress in Matale District , 5th century Sri Lanka was the first Asian country known to have a female ruler: Anula of Anuradhapura r.
The Sigiriya rock fortress is surrounded by an extensive network of ramparts and moats. Inside this protective enclosure were gardens, ponds, pavilions, palaces and other structures. Biso Kotuwa, a peculiar construction inside a dam , is a technological marvel based on precise mathematics that allows water to flow outside the dam, keeping pressure on the dam to a minimum. It maintained close ties with European civilisations including the Roman Empire.
For example, Bhatikabhaya 22 BC — AD 7 sent an envoy to Rome who brought back red coral , which was used to make an elaborate netlike adornment for the Ruwanwelisaya. In addition, Sri Lankan male dancers witnessed the assassination of Caligula. Taking advantage of this situation, Rajendra I , son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, and the Cholas sacked the city of Anuradhapura.
Subsequently, they moved the capital to Polonnaruwa. Following a seventeen-year-long campaign, Vijayabahu I successfully drove the Chola out of Sri Lanka in , reuniting the country for the first time in over a century. In , Kalinga Magha , a South Indian with uncertain origins, identified as the founder of the Jaffna kingdom, invaded and captured the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
He sailed from Kalinga  nautical miles on large ships with a 24, strong army. Unlike previous invaders, he looted , ransacked, and destroyed everything in the ancient Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Kingdoms beyond recovery.
His reign saw the massive migration of native Sinhalese people to the south and west of Sri Lanka, and into the mountainous interior, in a bid to escape his power.
The north, in the meanwhile, eventually evolved into the Jaffna kingdom. Chinese admiral Zheng He and his naval expeditionary force landed at Galle, Sri Lanka in and got into battle with the local king Vira Alakesvara of Gampola.
Zheng He captured King Vira Alakesvara and later released him. Thomlin at Galle in and is now preserved in the Colombo National Museum.
Kandyan period See also: In , after decades of intermittent warfare with the Portuguese, Vimaladharmasuriya I moved his kingdom to the inland city of Kandy , a location he thought more secure from attack. In , the king signed a treaty with the Dutch East India Company to get rid of the Portuguese who ruled most of the coastal areas.
The Dutch remained in the areas they had captured, thereby violating the treaty they had signed in An ethnic group named Burgher people emerged in Sri Lankan society as a result of Dutch rule. Later, a crisis of succession emerged in Kandy upon king Vira Narendrasinha 's death in He was married to a Telugu -speaking Nayakkar princess from South India Madurai and was childless by her.
Kings of the Nayakkar dynasty launched several attacks on Dutch controlled areas, which proved to be unsuccessful. Following his death, a nephew of Rajadhi Rajasinha, eighteen-year-old Kannasamy, was crowned. By this time, experiments with coffee plantations were largely successful. Falling coffee prices as a result of the depression of stalled economic development and prompted the governor to introduce a series of taxes on firearms, dogs, shops, boats, etc.
Tea production in Sri Lanka thrived in the following decades. Large-scale rubber plantations began in the early 20th century. British appointed Kandyan chiefs, By the end of the 19th century, a new educated social class transcending race and caste arose through British attempts to staff the Ceylon Civil Service and the legal, educational, and medical professions.
Buddhist and Hindu revivalism reacted against Christian missionary activities. But without massive popular support, and with the governor's encouragement for "communal representation" by creating a "Colombo seat" that dangled between Sinhalese and Tamils, the Congress lost momentum towards the mids.
This step was strongly criticised by the Tamil political leadership, who realised that they would be reduced to a minority in the newly created State Council of Ceylon , which succeeded the legislative council. However, this demand was not met by the Soulbury reforms of — Modern Sri Lanka Main articles: Sri Lankan independence movement , History of Sri Lanka —present , and Sri Lankan Civil War The formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule, with the opening of the first parliament at Independence Square The Soulbury constitution ushered in Dominion status , with independence proclaimed on 4 February Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Ceylon.
A countrywide popular demonstration against withdrawal of the rice ration, known as Hartal , resulted in the resignation of prime minister Dudley Senanayake. Bandaranaike was elected prime minister in His three-year rule had a profound impact through his self-proclaimed role of "defender of the besieged Sinhalese culture". Although partially reversed in , the bill posed a grave concern for the Tamil community, which perceived in it a threat to their language and culture.
Chelvanayakam , leader of the FP, to resolve the looming ethnic conflict. The bill, together with various government colonisation schemes , contributed much towards the political rancour between Sinhalese and Tamil political leaders. During her second term as prime minister, the government instituted socialist economic policies, strengthening ties with the Soviet Union and China , while promoting a policy of non-alignment.
In , Ceylon experienced a Marxist insurrection , which was quickly suppressed. In , the country became a republic named Sri Lanka, repudiating its dominion status. Prolonged minority grievances and the use of communal emotionalism as an election campaign weapon by both Sinhalese and Tamil leaders abetted a fledgling Tamil militancy in the north during the s.
The Black July , — Tamil civilians were killed across the island in the anti-Tamil Pogrom allegedly backed by hard-line Sinhalese ministers within the government.