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
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
Data as of October 1988