Country Listing

Sri Lanka Table of Contents

Sri Lanka



Seated Buddha statue near Polonnaruwa
Courtesy Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington


Figure 2. The Early Kingdoms of Sri Lanka, Third Century B.C.-Eighteenth Century A.D.

Source: Based on information from K.M. de Silva, A History of Sri Lanka, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1981, xv, xvii, xviii.

Ancient Indian and Sri Lankan myths and chronicles have been studied intensively and interpreted widely for their insight into the human settlement and philosophical development of the island. Confirmation of the island's first colonizers--whether the Sinhalese or Sri Lankan Tamils--has been elusive, but evidence suggests that Sri Lanka has been, since earliest times, a multiethnic society. Sri Lankan historian K.M. de Silva believes that settlement and colonization by Indo-Aryan speakers may have preceded the arrival of Dravidian settlers by several centuries, but that early mixing rendered the two ethnic groups almost physically indistinct.

Data as of October 1988