Sri Lanka is a beautiful island country off the southeast coast of India. From pristine beaches and historic ruins to incredible wildlife and picturesque tea plantations, Sri Lanka holds many little-known wonders.
Sri Lanka has more than 2,550 years of continuous written history by means of the Mahawansha, and was also mentioned in several ancient Indian texts. One of the most famous is the Ramayana, in which the island, which was referred to as Lanka, was the island fortress of the king Ravana. And over many centuries Sri Lanka has had many names.
The Aryans arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century BC, probably from northern India and mixed with locals to make Sinhalese ethnic group. Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-3rd century BC, and a great civilization developed at such cities as Anuradhapura (kingdom from c. 200 BC to c. 1000 AD) and Polonnaruwa (c. 1070 to 1200). Other notable but relatively more recent kingdoms are Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Gampola, Kandy and Jaffna Kingdoms.
Partially occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the coastal parts island was ceded to the British in 1796, and became a british colony in 1802. The entire island was ceded to the British in 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; the name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. (Sri Lanka Wikitravel)