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The first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon was one of the leaders of the independence movement, D. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s new government introduced a new constitution in 1972 – whereby Sri Lanka became a republic.
The country’s name was also changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka – ‘Lanka’ being an ancient name for the island and ‘Sri’ meaning ‘resplendent’ or ‘venerable’. Throughout this period, Ceylon’s government developed programmes of welfare and nationalisation, leading to improvements in health and literacy, but the economy began to decline.
The Kingdom of Kandy was invaded in 1815 and its monarchy abolished, with the whole island coming under British rule.
Plantations growing rubber, coconut and coffee were established in the 19th century.
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By the third century BCE Anurādhapura had grown into one of the largest cities in South Asia and Buddhism was adopted by the city’s rulers, after the Indian emperor Ashoka sent a missionary to Anurādhapura in 250 BCE.
In 1802 the Dutch colony became a British possession.By 500 CE several million people lived in the northern Dry Zone centred around Anurādhapura – the vast majority of the island’s population.In around 1000 CE, the Hindu Colas, from South India, had gained control of Anurādhapura and moved the capital south by 100 km to Polonnaruwa, before the Sinhalese regained the crown.Modern humans arrived in South Asia from Africa in around 60,000 BCE, with the earliest definitive evidence of settlement in Sri Lanka dating to about 28,000 BCE.