The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century BC, probably from northern India.
Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-third century BC, and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty seized power in the north and established a Tamil kingdom. Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815.
As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.
The international dialling code for Sri Lanka is +94.