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From the mid-1630s, the King of Kandy helped the Dutch to dispossess the Portuguese; by 1656 the island had become a Dutch possession except for Kandy. British interests developed in the late 18th century when its army invaded and forced the Dutch to accept its protection.
In 1802 the Dutch colony became a British possession.
They have become known as Veddoid, after the modern-day Väddā tribal group, of whom they may be the ancestors.
Buddhist scholars in around the fourth and fifth centuries CE wrote the chronicles Dīpavamsa and Mahāvamsa, recording some of the early history of Sri Lanka, focusing in particular on the establishment of Buddhism and the political fortunes of different dynasties.
The Mahāvamsa tells of the arrival of a prince from India named Vijaya, and the Sinhalese have often seen him as the founder of Sinhala civilisation in the island.
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.
Early humans had also been to the island much earlier, leaving stone-age tools that can be dated to around 125,000 BCE.
By 500 CE several million people lived in the northern Dry Zone centred around Anurādhapura – the vast majority of the island’s population.