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Sri Lanka History

Sri Lanka boasts of a documented history of 2500 years of civilization and the manuscript Mahavamsa (Great Genealogy or Dynasty), can be considered as the World's oldest unbroken record of history. The Mahavamsa - a chronicle compiled in Pali - the language of the Sri Lankan Kings, is a priceless source of knowledge of the historical heritage of Sri Lanka.

The manuscript documents the period from the arrival of King Vijaya in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena, 334 - 361 BC. It is believed that King Vijaya's ancestors were of Indian descent (from the Kingdom of Vanga - in modern Bengal).

From the 3rd century BC, the Mahavihara Buddhist monks maintained chronicles of the country's history. In the 5th Century BC, Mahathera Mahanama compiled these chronicles into a single manuscript.

Another manuscript, the Culavamsa (Lesser Chronicle), compiled by Sinhala Buddhist monks, encompasses the era between the 4th Century BC to the British takeover in 1815.

Colonial Era (1517 - 1948)

  • 1505 - Francisco de Almeida (Portuguese) arrived in Sri Lanka
  • 1517 - The Portuguese founded a Fort in Colombo and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas.
  • 1592 - The Sinhalese moved their capital to a more secure Kandy.
  • 1602 - The King at Kandy appealed to the Dutch Joris Spillberg for help against the Portuguese.
  • 1638 - The Dutch attacked Colombo.
  • 1656 - Colombo was overthrown.
  • 1660 - The Dutch controlled the entire island, except Kandy.
  • 1796 - The British occupied the coastal areas of Sri Lanka and called it Ceylon
  • 1802 - Treaty of Amiens - The Dutch part of the island was formally ceded to the British and became a crown colony.
  • 1803 - The British invaded Kandy, but were suppressed
  • 1815 - The British occupied Kandy, ending Sri Lankan independence
  • 1817 - 1818 -The Uva Rebellion
  • 1818 - Treaty to preserve the Kandyan Monarchy as a British Dependency

Independence Movement

  • 1919 - The Ceylon National Congress was founded to agitate for greater autonomy. The party soon split along ethnic and caste lines
  • 1930s - Petition - 'Minister's Memorandum' by the Congress Minister to the colonial government to increase powers. They were forced to withdraw their petition by the Youth League
  • 1935 - Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party was formed demanding independence.

Political Independence

  • 1948 - Dominion status followed with Military Treaties with Britain and British air and sea bases remaining intact. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
  • 1949 - Disenfranchised the Indian Tamil Plantation Workers
  • 1952 - Senanayake died.
  • 1953 - Senanyake's son, Dudley Senanyake succeeded his father as the Prime Minister
  • 1956 - UNP was defeated at elections by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (included the Sri Lankan Freedom party and the Viplavakari Lanka Sama Samaja Party)
  • 1957 - British bases were removed and Sri Lanka officially became a non-aligned country.

The children also celebrate all International Days.