Islam in Sri Lanka
Islam is a minority religion in Sri Lanka. 9.7% of the Sri Lankan population practice Islam. 1,967,227 persons adhere to Islam as per the census of 2012. With the arrival of Arab traders in the 7th century A. D. Islam began to flourish in Sri Lanka; the first people to profess the Islamic faith were Arab merchants and their native wives, whom they married after having them converted to Islam. By the 8th century A. D. Arab traders had controlled much of the trade including that of Sri Lanka. Many of them settled down on the island in large numbers. However, when the Portuguese arrived during the 16th century, many of their descendants now called the Sri Lankan Moors were traders and merchants with spice trading networks spanning to the Middle East; the Portuguese colonists attacked and destroyed the Sri Lankan Moor settlements and trading networks. Many defeated; the population of Sri Lankan Moors declined during the Portuguese colonial rule due to the pogroms against the Moors. The Sinhalese ruler King Senarat of Kandy gave refuge to some of the Muslims in the central highlands and Eastern Province, Sri Lanka.
During 18th and 19th centuries and Malaysian Muslims bought over by the Dutch and British rulers contributed to the growing Muslim population in Sri Lanka. Their descendants, now the Sri Lankan Malays, adapted several Sri Lankan Moor Islamic traditions while contributing their unique cultural Islamic practices to other Muslim groups on the Island; the arrival of Muslims from India during the 19th and 20th centuries has contributed to the growth of Islam in Sri Lanka. Most notably and South Indian Muslims have introduced Shafi'i and the Hanafi school of thought into Sri Lanka, however although most Muslims on the island still adhere to the traditional practices of Sunni Islam. Muslims follow Sufi traditions; the Fassiya ash Shazuliya tariqa having its head quarters in Ummu Zavaya in M. J. M. Laffir mawatha, flourished by the Al-Fassi family in the 1870s is the most prevalent sufi order among the Srilankan muslims followed by Aroosiyathul qadiriya; the Deobandi Tablighi Jamaat, jamathe islame and thawheed jamath etc. too have centers in Colombo.
Sunni scholar Muhammad Abdul Aleem Siddiqi built Hanafi Masjid in Colombo for Sri Lankan Muslims. In modern times, Muslims in Sri Lanka are handled by the Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Department, established in the 1980s to prevent the continual isolation of the Muslim community from the rest of Sri Lanka. Muslims of Sri Lanka from the Moor and Malay ethnic communities on the island with smaller numbers of converts from other ethnicities, such as the Tamils; the districts of Ampara and Batticaloa in Eastern Province have the highest share of Muslims in Sri Lanka, followed by Puttalam, Mannar and Colombo. The Sri Lankan Moors are native speakers of the Tamil language while a few of them speak Sinhala as primary language, follow Islam as their religion. Sri Lankan Moors comprise 9.30% of Sri Lanka’s population, constitute the largest ethnic group within the Muslim community in the country. Islam was spread to Sri Lanka by contacts with the merchant ships operated by the Moor traders between Serendib, various ports in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
As per scholars, Sri Lankan Moors are descendant of the Marakkar, Mappilas and Pathans of South India. There are 749 Muslim schools in Sri Lanka, 205 madrasas which teach Islamic education, an Islamic university in Beruwala. Al Iman Schools in Colombo was the first organization of Islamic schools of its kind, teaching an integrated Islamic curriculum since 2008. In the early 20th century there were few Muslim professionals in accounting, engineering, etc. but at present they are exceeding the national average. Due to the lack of opportunity in Sri Lanka, many Muslim professionals are emigrating to get jobs abroad, such as to the Middle East, United States, Canada and Europe; the Moors have had better social and economic mobility, thanks to the historic head start they had in getting education and government jobs under the British colonial rule. In the eastern provinces of the country Muslims are predominant; these Muslims were settled on land given by the Sinhalese King Senarat of Kandy after the Muslims were persecuted by the Portuguese.
East coast Sri Lankan Moors are farmers and traders. According to the controversial census of 2007, the Moors are 5%, their family lines are traced through women, as in kinship systems of the southwest Indian state of Kerala, but they govern themselves through Islamic law. Many moors in the west of the island are traders, professionals or civil servants and are concentrated in Colombo, Beruwala, Dharga Town, Puttalam and Mannar. Moors in the west coast trace their family lines through their father. Along with those in the Central Province, the surname of many Moors in Colombo and Puttalam is their fathers first name, thus retaining similarity to the traditional Arab and middle eastern kinship system; the Malays of Sri Lanka originated in Southeast Asia and today consist of about 50,000 persons. Their ancestors came to the country when both Sri Indonesia were colonies of the Dutch. Most of the early Malay immigrants were indentured labours, posted by the Dutch colonial administration to Sri Lanka, who decided to settle on the island.
Other immigrants were convicts or members of
An administrative division, entity, area or region referred to as a subnational entity, constituent unit, or country subdivision, is a portion of a country or other region delineated for the purpose of administration. Administrative divisions are granted a certain degree of autonomy and are required to manage themselves through their own local governments. Countries are divided up into these smaller units to make managing their land and the affairs of their people easier. A country may be divided into provinces, which, in turn, may be divided in whole or in part into municipalities. Administrative divisions are conceptually separate from dependent territories, with the former being an integral part of the state and the other being only under some lesser form of control. However, the term "administrative division" can include dependent territories as well as accepted administrative divisions. For clarity and convenience the standard neutral reference for the largest administrative subdivision of a country is called the "first-level administrative division" or "first administrative level".
Next smaller is called "second-level administrative division" or "second administrative level". In many of the following terms originating from British cultural influence, areas of low mean population density might bear a title of an entity one would expect to be either larger or smaller. There is no fixed rule, for "all politics is local" as is well demonstrated by their relative lack of systemic order. In the realm of self-government, any of these can and does occur along a stretch of road—which for the most part is passing through rural unsettled countryside. Since the terms are administrative political subdivisions of the local regional government their exact relationship and definitions are subject to home rule considerations, tradition, as well as state statute law and local governmental definition and control. In British cultural legacy, some territorial entities began with expansive counties which encompass an appreciably large area, but were divided over time into a number of smaller entities.
Within those entities are the large and small cities or towns, which may or may not be the county seat. Some of the world's larger cities culturally, if not span several counties, those crossing state or provincial boundaries have much in common culturally as well, but are incorporated within the same municipal government. Many sister cities share a water boundary, which quite serves as a border of both cities and counties. For example and Boston, Massachusetts appear to the casual traveler as one large city, while locally they each are quite culturally different and occupy different counties. General terms for these incorporated places include "municipality," "settlement," "locality," and "populated place." Borough, burgh or "boro" City Shire Town Township Village Tribe Indian reservation Indian reserve Band Rancheria Due to variations in their use worldwide, consistency in the translation of terms from non-English to English is sometimes difficult to maintain. Sovereign state, a national or supra-national division.
Country, a national or sub-national division. Empire, a supra-national division. GADM, a high-resolution database of country administrative areas. ISO 3166-2 Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions — Part 2. List of administrative division name changes List of etymologies of country subdivision names List of administrative divisions by country United Nations' Second Administrative Level Boundaries dataset Statoids, an international convention with standardized two-letter-based multi-level summaries of administrative divisions worldwide
Sri Lankan Moors
Sri Lankan Moors are an ethnic minority group in Sri Lanka, comprising 9.2% of the country's total population. They are native speakers of the Tamil language with influence of Sinhalese and Arabic words, they are predominantly followers of Islam. The Sri Lankan Muslim community is divided as Sri Lankan moors, Indian Moors and Sri Lankan Malays as per their history and traditions; the Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka in waves beginning from the 8th century. The population of Moors are the highest in the Ampara and Batticaloa districts; the Portuguese named the Muslims in India and Sri Lanka after the Muslim Moors they met in Iberia. The word Moors did not exist in Sri Lanka before the arrival of the Portuguese colonists; the term'Moor' was chosen because of the Islamic faith of these people, was not a reflection of their origin. The Tamil term for Moors is "Sonakar", thought to be derived from the word Sunnah; the Tamil term Sonakar along with the Sinhalese term Yonaka, has been thought to have been derived from the term Yona, a term applied to Greeks, but sometimes Arabs.
Some scholars hold the view that the Sri Lankan Moors are descended from the Marakkar, Mappilas and Pathans of South India. The Moors have both Sinhalese Tamil speaking members within their community. Another view suggests that the Arab traders, adopted the Sinhalese and Tamil languages only after settling in Sri Lanka; this version claims. The cultural practices of the Moors vary from the other communities on the island. Thus, most scholars classify the Sri Lankan Moors and Tamils as two distinct ethnic groups, who speak the same language; this view is dominantly held by the Sinhalesefavoring section of the Moors, as well as the Sri Lankan government, which lists the Moors as a separate ethnic community. Although the caste system is not observed by the Moors such as it is in the other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, their kudi system is an extension of the Tamil tradition; the Sri Lankan Moors along with Mukkuvar dominated once in medieval era the pearl trade in Sri Lanka. Alliances and intermarriages between both communities were observed in this period.
They held close contact with other Muslims of Southern India through coastal trade. The Moors had their own court of justice for settling their disputes. Upon the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers in the 16th century, larger population of Moors were expelled from cities such as the capital city Colombo, a Moor-dominated city at that time; the Moors were thus migrating towards east and were settled there through the invitation of the Kingdom of Kandy. Robert Knox, a British sea captain of the 17th century, noted that the Kings of Kandy Kingdom built mosques for the Moors; the Sri Lankan Civil War was a 26-year conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka between government and separatist militant organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In this civil war Sri Lankan Muslim were targeted by LTTE and a few hundred Muslims died, whilst hundreds of thousands were expelled from their homes and their properties were destroyed. LTTE tried to make northern Sri Lanka into a Tamil country called Tamil Eelam.
Since 1888 under the initiative of Ponnambalam Ramanathan, the Sri Lankan Tamils launched a campaign to classify those Sri Lankan Moors who spoke Tamil as Tamils to bolster their population numbers for the impending transition to democratic rule in Sri Lanka. Their view holds that the Sri Lankan Moors were Tamil converts to Islam; the claim that the Moors were the progeny of the original Arab settlers, might hold good for a few families but not for the entire bulk of the community. According to some Tamil nationalists, the concept of Arab descent among Tamil speaking moors was, invented just to keep the community away from the Tamils and this'separate identity' intended to check the latter's demand for the separate state Tamil Eelam and to flare up hostilities between the two groups in the broader Tamil-Sinhalese conflict; the expulsion of the Muslims from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organization in October 1990.
In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE carried out riots and forcibly expelled the Muslim population from the Northern Province and confiscated their properties and destroyed the Mosques. The riots and expulsion by LTTE still carries bitter memories amongst the Sri Lanka's Muslims. In 2002, the LTTE militant leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran formally apologized for the riots and expulsion of the Muslims from the North. There has been a stream of Muslims travelling to and from Jaffna since the ceasefire; some families have returned and the re-opened the Osmania College now has 60 students enrolled. Osmania College was once a prominent educational institution for the city's Muslim community. According to a Jaffna Muslim source, there is a floating population of about 2,000 Muslims in Jaffna. Around 1,500 are Jaffna Muslims, while the rest are Muslim traders from other areas. About 10 Muslim shops are functioning and the numbers are growing.
Sinhalese language is spoken by those Moors whose maternal lineage is Sinhalese and Tamil is the mother tongue of the community whose maternal lineage are Tamil, however depending on where they live in the country, they may additionally speak Tamil, Sinhala and or English. According to the 2012 Census 58.7% o
Parliament of Sri Lanka
The Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the supreme legislative body of Sri Lanka. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the island, it is modeled after the British Parliament. It consists of twenty-five members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected by proportional representation with universal suffrage. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws; the President of Sri Lanka has the power to summon, prorogue, or terminate a legislative session and to dissolve the Parliament. President can dissolve Parliament only after the lapse of 4 1/2 years or if 2/3 majority of Members of Parliament requests him; the Speaker or, in his absence the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees or the Deputy Chairman of Committees, presides over Parliament. Parliament has the power to make laws, including laws having retrospective effect and repealing or amending any provision of the Constitution, or adding any provision to the Constitution.
The first legislature established in Ceylon was the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, which were established on March 13, 1833 according to the recommendations of the Colebrook-Cameron commission. The Executive Council was composed of the Colonial Secretary, the officer commanding the Military Forces, the Attorney General, the Auditor-General and the Treasurer; the duties of the council were advisory and the Governor of Ceylon, who presided over their meetings and consulted them, was at liberty to disregard their advice. At first it was made up of only British officials but included native citizens. At the beginning 16, 49 members, were elected for the Legislative Council, but a limited number of people were qualified to vote. In 1931 the Legislative Council was dissolved and in its place a more powerful State Council of Ceylon was established with its 101 members elected by universal adult franchise as provided by the Donoughmore Constitution. Prior to the granting of independence and the establishment of the Dominion of Ceylon on 4 February 1948, a new bicameral parliament was established in 1947, according to the recommendations of the Soulbury Commission after the State Council was dissolved.
It was based on the Westminster model with an upper house, the Senate, whose members were appointed and a lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, whose members were directly elected. The House of Representatives consisted of 101 Members and the Senate consisted of 30 Members, of whom 15 were elected by the House of Representatives and 15 nominated by the Governor-General of Ceylon; the Senate was abolished on 2 October 1971. On 22 May 1972 when the republican constitution was enacted, the House of Representatives was replaced with the National State Assembly which had 168 elected members; this itself was replaced by the Parliament of Sri Lanka when the constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was enacted in 1977. In 1987, a grenade was lobbed into a conference room inside the Parliament complex where government MPs were meeting. Two people were killed and sixteen injured, but the target of the attack, President J. R. Jayawardene escaped unhurt; the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna claimed responsibility for the attack.
On 20 August 2015, Two major parties the United National Party and Sri Lanka Freedom Party have signed Memorandum of Understanding to form the National Government in order to address major unresolved issue after the end of 30-year old ethnic conflict, This is the first time in Sri Lanka's political history that two major parties agrees to work in the joint government. The Presidential Secretariat announced that the Government will be functioning as joint government comprising two major parties. United National Party leader who won the most seats was appointed Prime Minister Of the 225 members, 196 are elected from 22 electoral districts, which are multi-member; the remaining 29 MPs are elected from National Lists allocated to the parties in proportion to their share of the national vote. Any Sri Lankan citizan may be elected to parliament unless disqualified to do so under the Article 90 of the Constitution, which includes; when Parliament first meets after a general election, it will elect three members to serve as the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees and the Deputy Chairman of Committees.
Whilst presiding, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker wears ceremonial dress. The Parliament Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General of Parliament, is in charge of all its administrative duties; until 1972, the post was known as Clerk of Parliament. The Secretary General is appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Constitutional Council; the Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for the maintenance of law and security on the House's premises and acts as master-of-ceremonies. The Serjeant-at-Arms carries the ceremonial mace, a symbol of the authorit
Hinduism in Sri Lanka
Hinduism has a long tradition and, the oldest religion in Sri Lanka. More than 2000 years civilization have proved so far from Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. Hindus make up 12.60% of the Sri Lankan population, are exclusively Tamils apart from small immigrant communities from India and Pakistan such as the Sindhis and Malayalees. In the 1915 census they made up 25% of the population, which included the indentured labourers the British had brought. Due to emigration, today they are still a sizeable minority. Hinduism is dominant in the Eastern provinces, where there are predominantly Tamil people. Hinduism is practised in the central regions as well as in the capital, Colombo. According to the government census of 2011, there are 2,554,606 Hindus in Sri Lanka constituting 12.6% of the country's population. During the Sri Lankan Civil War, many Tamils fled to other countries. There are Hindu temples abroad which were built by the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to maintain their religion and culture; the majority of Sri Lankan Hindus follow the teaching of Shaiva Siddhanta.
Some hindus follow Shaktism. Sri Lanka is home to the five abodes of Shiva, which are known as Pancha Ishwarams, The holy places build by king Ravana. Sri Murugan is one of the most popular Hindu deities in Sri Lanka, he is not only venerated by the Hindu Tamils but by Buddhist Sinhalese and aboriginal Veddas. A significant Hindu religious figure in Sri Lankan modern history is Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna. One of the mystics of the 20th century, Yogaswami was the official satguru and counseling sage of Lanka's several million Tamil Hindu population; the Ramakrishna Mission is somewhat active in the Amparai and Batticaloa districts while the Shaiva Siddhanta school of philosophy of Shaivism sect of Hinduism is prevalent in the North of Sri Lanka. Yogaswami belonged to the Shaiva Siddhanta and he was 161st head of the Nandinatha Sampradaya; the next person in the line of succession after Yogaswami was Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. According to legend, Sri Lanka was formed when sage Narada persuaded the God of Wind and Air, Vayu, to humble his close friend, Mount Meru.
Vayu spent the next year blowing strong winds at the mountain, shielded by Garuda, a mythical bird. When Garuda took respite for a while, Vayu caused part of the apex of the mountain to fall into the sea, forming the island of Sri Lanka; the first major Hindu reference to Sri Lanka is found in the Ramayana. The Ramayana tells; the throne of Lanka was usurped by his half-brother Ravana. Ravana was killed by Rama the avatar of Vishnu; the Ramayana mentions a bridge between India and Sri Lanka, known as Rama's Bridge, constructed with rocks by Rama with the help of Hanuman and others. Many believers view the sand bar islands connecting Sri Lanka to India as the remains of the bridge as seen in satellite images. Archeological evidence is found to support worship of Lord Siva in parts of Sri Lanka, from pre-historic times, prior to the arrival of Prince Vijaya. Ravana was a devout follower of Lord Siva. Evidence states; the Nagas practiced an early form of Hinduism that serpents. This form of animistic Shaivism is common in other parts of India.
The Nagas who inhabited the Jaffna Peninsula were the ancestors of Sri Lankan Tamils. The Nagas started to assimilate to Tamil language and culture in the 3rd century BCE, lost their separate identity; the Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple in Nainativu is believed to be one of the prominent 64 Shakti Peethams. Hinduism was the dominant religion in Sri Lanka before the arrival of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka by Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa; the Sinhalese embraced Tamils remain Hindus in Sri Lanka. However it was activity from across the Palk Strait that set the scene for Hinduism's survival in Sri Lanka. Shaivism was the dominant branch practiced by the Tamil peoples, thus most of the traditional Hindu temple architecture and philosophy of Sri Lanka drew from this particular strand of Hinduism. Thirugnanasambanthar mentioned the names of a number of Sri Lankan Hindu temples in his works; the arrival of European colonialists brought profound consequences to both Hindu and Buddhist communities.
In 1505, a Portuguese fleet, under the command of Captain–major Don Lourenço de Almeida, arrived off the coast of Sri Lanka. Deals were struck between rival native rulers and the Portuguese. Formal treaties between the two groups thereby heralded the entry of the alien forces in the political arena of Sri Lanka. Over time, the Europeans were able to take advantage of the fractured nature of Sri Lankan politics culminating in successful military wins against the rebellious natives, most notably against the Hindu Tamils in the North, whose leaders were made to swear allegiance to the king of Portugal in return for maintaining their distinct laws and customs. However, any so-called rulers had become puppets of their European overlords until in the end, further rebellion caused the Tamil Jaffna Kingdom to fall in the hands of the Portuguese in June 1619, when the incumbent ruler and his family were arrested and taken prisoner. According to the Portuguese administrative arrangements, the jurisdiction of Jaffna came directly under
Sri Lanka the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait; the legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo. Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years, it has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road. Sri Lanka was known from the beginning of British colonial rule as Ceylon. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century to obtain political independence, granted in 1948.
Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a 26-year civil war, which decisively ended when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The current constitution stipulates the political system as a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system, it has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement. Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of only two South Asian countries rated "high" on the Human Development Index, with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations; the Sri Lankan constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place", although it does not identify it as a state religion. Buddhism is given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution; the island is home to many cultures and ethnicities. The majority of the population is from the Sinhalese ethnicity, while a large minority of Tamils have played an influential role in the island's history.
Moors, Malays and the indigenous Vedda are established groups on the island. In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. According to the Mahavamsa, the legendary Prince Vijaya named the land Tambapanni, because his followers' hands were reddened by the red soil of the area. In Hindu mythology, such as the Ramayana, the island was referred to as Lankā; the Tamil term Eelam, was used to designate the whole island in Sangam literature. The island was known under Chola rule as Mummudi Cholamandalam. Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobanē from the word Tambapanni; the Persians and Arabs referred to it as Sarandīb from Cerentivu or Siṃhaladvīpaḥ. Ceilão, the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon; as a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon. The country is now known in Sinhala in Tamil as Ilaṅkai. In 1972, its formal name was changed to "Free and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka".
In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". As the name Ceylon still appears in the names of a number of organisations, the Sri Lankan government announced in 2011 a plan to rename all those over which it has authority; the pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and even as far back as 500,000 years. The era spans the Palaeolithic and early Iron Ages. Among the Paleolithic human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena and Belilena are the most important. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of anatomically modern humans which they have named Balangoda Man, other evidence suggesting that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which provides details of a kingdom named Lanka, created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for Kubera, the Lord of Wealth, it is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother Ravana, the powerful emperor who built a mythical flying machine named Dandu Monara.
The modern city of Wariyapola is described as Ravana's airport. Early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were ancestors of the Vedda people, an indigenous people numbering 2,500 living in modern-day Sri Lanka; 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 and other valuables. According to the Mahāvamsa, a chronicle written in Pāḷi, the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka are the Yakshas and Nagas. Ancient cemeteries that were used before 600 BC and other signs of advanced civilisation have been discovered in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese history traditionally starts in 543 BC with the arrival of Prince Vijaya, a semi-legendary prince who sailed with 700 followers to Sri Lanka, after being expelled from Vanga Kingdom (present-day Ben
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic group native to the island of Sri Lanka. They constitute number greater than 16.2 million. The Sinhalese identity is based on historical heritage and religion; the Sinhalese people speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language, are predominantly Theravada Buddhists, although a small percentage of Sinhalese follow branches of Christianity. The Sinhalese are found in North Central, Central and West Sri Lanka. According to the 5th century epic poem Mahavamsa, the Dipavamsa, a 3rd–5th century treatise written in Pali by Buddhist monks of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese are descendants of settlers who came to the island in 543 BCE from Sinhapura, in India, led by Prince Vijaya. From the Sanskrit word Sinhala, meaning "of lions"; the Mahavamsa records the origin of the Sinhalese people and related historical events. It traces the historical origin of the Sinhalese people back to the first king of Sri Lanka, the son of Sinhabahu (Sanskrit meaning'Sinha' +'bahu', the ruler of Sinhapura.
According to the Mahavamsa, Sinhabahu was the son of princess Suppadevi of the Vanga, who copulated with the king of the beast, a lion, gave birth to a daughter called Sinhasivali and to a son, whose hands and feet were like the paws of a lion and who had the strength of a lion. King Vijaya, lineage of Sinhabahu, according to the Mahavamsa and other historical sources, arrived to the island of Tambapanni, gave origin to the lion people, Sinhalese; the story of the arrival of Prince Vijaya to Sri Lanka, the origin of the Sinhalese people is depicted in the Ajanta caves, in a mural of cave number 17. Early recorded history of the Sinhalese is chronicled in two documents, the Mahavamsa, written in Pāli around the 4th century CE, the much Culavamsa; these are ancient sources which cover the histories of the powerful ancient Sinhalese kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa which lasted for 1500 years. The Mahavamsa describes the existence of fields of rice and reservoirs, indicating a well-developed agrarian society.
Prince Vijaya and his 700 followers left Suppāraka, landed on the island at a site believed to be in the district of Chilaw, near modern-day Mannar, founded the Kingdom of Tambapanni. It is recorded. Vijaya claimed soon the whole island come under this name. Tambapanni was inhabited and governed by Yakkhas, having their capital at Sirīsavatthu and their queen Kuveni. According to the Samyutta Commentary, Tambapanni was one hundred leagues in extent. After landing in Tambapanni Vijaya met Kuveni the queen of the Yakkhas, disguised as a beautiful woman but was a'yakkini' named Sesapathi. At the end of his reign, having trouble choosing a successor, sent a letter to the city of his ancestors, Sinhapura, in order to invite his brother Sumitta to take over the throne. However, Vijaya had died before the letter had reached its destination, so the elected minister of the people Upatissa, the Chief government minister or prime minister and leading chief among the Sinhalese became regent and acted as regent for a year.
After his coronation, held in the Kingdom of Tambapanni, he left it, building another one, bearing his own name. While he was king, Upatissa established the new capital Upatissa, in which the kingdom was moved to from the Kingdom of Tambapanni; when Vijaya's letter arrived, Sumitta had succeeded his father as king of his country, so he sent his son Panduvasdeva to rule Upatissa Nuwara. Upatissa Nuwara was eight miles further north of the Kingdom of Tambapanni, it was named after the regent king Upatissa, the prime minister of Vijaya, was founded in 505 BC after the death of Vijaya and the end of the Kingdom of Tambapanni. In 377 BC, King Pandukabhaya moved the capital to Anuradhapura and developed it into a prosperous city. Anuradhapura was named after the minister who first established the village and after a grandfather of Pandukabhaya who lived there; the name was derived from the city's establishment on the auspicious asterism called Anura. Anuradhapura was the capital of all the monarchs.
Rulers such as Dutthagamani and Dhatusena are noted for defeating the South Indians and regaining control of the kingdom. Other rulers who are notable for military achievements include Gajabahu I, who launched an invasion against the invaders, Sena II, who sent his armies to assist a Pandyan prince. During the Middle Ages Sri Lanka was well known for its agricultural prosperity under the Parakramabahu in Polonnaruwa during which period the island was famous around the world as the rice mill of the east. In the 13th century the country's administrative provinces were divided into three independent kingdoms: Kingdom of Sitawaka, Kingdom of Kotte and the Kandyan kingdom; the invasion by Magha in the 13th century led to migrations by the Sinhalese to areas not under his control. This migration was followed by a period of conflict among the Sinhalese chiefs who tried to exert political supremacy. Parakramabahu VI in the 15th century was the only Sinhalese king during this time who could bring back the unity of the whole island.
Trade increased during this period, as Sri Lanka began to trade Cinnamon and a large number of Muslim traders were bought into the island. In the 15th century a Kandyan