The history of Sri Lanka goes back to prehistoric times. Archaeological findings indicate that the island was inhabited as early as 500,000 years ago.
Legend has it that the forefather of the Singhalese, the North Indian Prince Vijaya entered the island about 540 B.C. together with 700 followers. 180 generations of Ceylonese kings followed and governed the country during more than 2,000 years. Architecture and visual arts developed to their zenith during the bloom of Buddhism. Many of the dagobas and ruins which can still be seen today originate from this time. In 1592 Kandy was declared as the new capital.
The Period of Colonialism
1505 marks the beginning of 450 years of colonial powers with the arrival of the Portuguese. The small seafarer's nation expels the Arabian traders of the coastal regions and takes control of the trade with cinnamon and precious stones. They spread Christianity with a rather tough approach while their missionaries build schools, hospitals and churches.
In 1658 the Dutch defeat the Portuguese in a blood-filled battle and take over supremacy of the island. They are far less interested in Christian conversion than in economic success. The commercial monopoly with cinnamon is controlled by the VOC – the Dutch East India Company – which thereby also controls the coastal regions.
In 1796 the British repeat history and expel their predecessors, only this time without much bloodshed, and make Ceylon a British crown colony in 1802. They implement coffee plantations in the highland, which are destroyed by the coffee plague and consequently substituted with the more robust tea plants. Through the construction of roads, railway lines and schools they contribute considerably to improve the infrastructure and education of the population.
In 1948 the island becomes an independent member of the British Commonwealth and ends 450 years of foreign rule.
On 22nd of May 1972 Ceylon became a Republic with the name Sri Lanka which means beautiful shining land.
On 26th of December 2004 Sri Lanka was effected by a terrible natural catastrophe. An earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a Tsunami and devastated huge parts of the east and south coast and also some parts of the west coast.
On 17th of November 2005 presidential elections were held. Mahinda Rajapakse known as nationalist was the winner. He ended on 16th of May 2009 the civil war between Tamil terrorists and the Central government of Sri Lanka.
In 2011 the first part of the highway was opened with a distance of 95,3km (Colombo-Galle), in 2013 the connection Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo was opened.
On 8th January 2015 Maithripala Sirisena was directly elected as an executive president (simultaneously state and government) for six years. He promised reconciliation and cooperation with all political parties and all communities.