5th century BC: Indo-Aryan Sinhalese- and Dravidian-speaking Tamil peoples, from northern and southern India respectively, settled the island.
250 BC: Devanampiyatissa becamethe first Buddhist king of the island. According to tradition, he was converted by a missionary sent from India by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka. Buddhism united the island’s inhabitants by the end of the second century BC and formed a basis for political and economic development.
161 BC-137 BC: The Sinhalese leader Duttagamani Abhaya ruled the Anuradhapura kingdom, having defeated a rival Tamil monarch at the end of a fifteen-year war.
AD 65: King Vasabha founded the Lambakanna dynasty, which ruled the kingdom for four hundred years.
276-303: During the reign of King Mahasena, a complex irrigation system was constructed to facilitate the cultivation of rice. Heterodox Buddhist sects flourished.
432: The Pandyas, Tamils from extreme southern India, invaded Sri Lanka and ended the Lambakannas’ rule. Dhatusena, however, defeated the Pandyas and the Moriya dynasty ascended to the throne in 459, re-establishing a Sinhalese monarchy.
684: The Pallavas of southern India established a Sinhalese royal fugitive, Manavamma, on the throne of the Anuradhapura kingdom; he founded the second Lambakanna dynasty, which reigned for a further 400 years.
8th century: Moorish traders introduced Islam to the island and a small community of Muslims was established.
993: The Lambakannas became involved in dynastic wars between the Pandyas, Pallavas and Cholas in southern India. The Cholas invaded the kingdom because of the Lambakannan alliance with the Pandyas, and looted and burned Anuradhapura.
1017: The Cholas captured the southern province of Ruhuna.
1023: The new capital of Polonnaruwa, which controlled the route to Ruhuna, was captured by the Cholas.
1065: The Sinhalese Prince Kitti ruled Ruhuna under the title of Vijayabahu I.