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History of Sri Lanka

The civilization of Sri Lanka can be rooted back to the Homo sapiens, which might have existed in Sri Lanka a long time ago. While it was noted that Sri Lanka’s journey towards the civilization might have took around thousands of years, and this is evident from the Paleolithic & Mesolithic cultures. This also establishes the existence of Balangoda culture (5000 BC), which is referred as the stone age of Sri Lanka. This was the time, when only stone was used by the primitive man. As per the latest findings, it is believed that the domestication of the plants might have started at 10000 BC, or might be before that. Agriculture has been the primary occupation of Sri Lanka. Agriculturists or the cultivators have been honored on many occasions since they are considered as a special bond between the man and the land.

Also there has been the existence of lowland wet zones in Sri Lanka from the pre-historic times, and this has been discovered through a series of Cave excavations. Some of them are:

  • Fahien-Lena, Bulathsinhala (37000-5,400 BP)
  • Batadomba-Lena, Kuruwita (31000-11500 BP)
  • Beli-lena, Kitugala (30000-3500 BP)
  • Alu-Lena, Attanagoda  (10,500 BP)
  • Bellan-bandi Palassa, Embilipitiya (6,500 TL BP)

From the scientific records, it can be easily proved that the pre-historic age of Sri Lanka dare back to 125,000 years ago. One of the most important evidences in this regard is the presence of “red sand soil deposits” along the Southern, Northern, and North Western sea belts. There were excavations, which were carried out in Pathirawela and Bundala have proved that prehistoric settlements had two stages. Even though there were no evidence of human remains, tools made up of stones which were used by hominids dated to 125,000 years ago have been discovered. Also, a huge number of microlithic tools, used during the Stone Age were also found. These tools were used around 28,000 years of ago. More details about these studies could be found in “The Pre-History of Sri Lanka”, written by Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, and “New Light on the Pre History of Sri Lanka” written by Dr. W.H.Wijayapala.

The advance cultural characteristics could be learned from the protohistoric research excavations. However, in the same period, there was no evidence of usage of letters in Sri Lanka. On the contrary, there is enough evidence of technology, advanced pottery, animal taming, crop cultivation and iron usage. Protohistoric Iron Age is referred to the period between 1300 BC and 250 BC, which has been established through the recent studies. Some of the distinct features of this period are Kokebe, elaboration of funerary culture, discoveries from the excavations of pomparippu, Yapahuwa, Yatigalpotta, Kalotuwa, Ibbankatuwa, and Ranchamadama. Also from the studies, it has been proved that these cultures existed until the beginning of the early historic period.

Even though “Nittaewo” the traditional pigmies have vanished from Sri Lanka time ago, the remaining descendants of the Veddah tribe can be still found in the remote regions. Veddah’s are aboriginal tribe found in Sri Lanka. As per an estimation provided in the year of 2007, the population of Sri Lanka is poised to grow at 0.982 percent. At the same time, the birth rate will stand at 1.7 percent, and the death rate will stand at 0.6 percent at the same time.

Sri Lanka can be described as a multi-religious country, with the existence of all the religions. It includes Buddhism, Hindu, Muslim, and Christianity. One should not find it unusual when they see the church, mosque, Buddhist temple and Hindu temple standing side by side. However, Buddhists dominate the majority of the population, being around 69 percent of the Sri Lankans. They are followed by Hindus and Muslims, who constitute around 15.5 percent and 9 percent of the Sri Lankans. Christians constitute only 7.5 percent of Sri Lankans. The literacy rate of Sri Lanka stands at 88.6 percent.

The official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala and Tamil. Majority of the Sinhalese speaks the Sinhala language, which is classified as an Indo Aryan language. On the other hand, most of the Tamils as well as the Muslims speak the Tamil language, which is a Dravidian language. However, English is also spoken as well as understood in Sri Lanka, being the third common language. Most of the signboards on trains & buses, as well as the nameplates in Sri Lanka can be found in all the three languages.