20 September 2009

Taprobane to Ceylon

Sri Lanka has a long history and most prominently it has one of the longest written histories in the world. Throughout the time Sri Lanka was known by many names by different countries and historians.

The king Vijaya, a prince from Wanga Desha (probably West Bengal) named this land, ‘Thambapanni’. Subsequently he became the first recorded king of the island. As per the chronicles he landed here in 543 BC.

Later in the 2nd century AD, the Greek mathematician, Ptolemy marked this country as ‘Taprobane’ in his famous world map. The Taprobane he mentioned was quite bigger, yet the unmistakable location clarifies that he wanted to show Sri Lanka in the map.

Later on, the Arab merchants (as well as Persians) used to call this country as ‘Serendib’. Also there are records that Chinese called Sri Lanka as Si-Lan. The 14th century explorer Marco Polo, visited Sri Lanka and he went on to record that he found many pearls and precious stones in the Island of Seylan.

Since, 16th century AD, many European nations ruled Sri Lanka partially and later on the British controlled the entire country for more than a century (1815 – 1948). The Portuguese the first of the European nations who invaded, called the country Celao and subsequently Zeilan by the Dutch. The British named this island as Ceylon and it was used during major part of the 20th century until it was officially changed to ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1972.

To read more about Sri Lanka click here.

The picture above shows a moonstone, a typical stepping stone found in many Sri Lankan temples. To learn more about them read this post by Harumi.


poefusion said...

wow. great history.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Thanks for your comments :)

Sunny said...

Thank you for sharing such interesting history.
Sunny :)

George said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting history of your country. The ancient history is new to me, but it is extremely interesting.

Anonymous said...

History was my pet subject when I was in school, ... I had a wonderful teacher. Sadly it's been too long and I have forgotten most of it... its hard to explain but Lankan history is just so unique and interesting...like no other i've studied since. Thanks for the memory refreshment :)...

Kirigalpoththa said...

You are welcome :)

Yes I find the history and archaeology very amusing and exciting!

You are most welcome and glad you like it.
I thought it is good to give a brief historical account of Sri Lanka. Then it is easy to relate this when I do posts on places that have historical significance.

Thanks all for your comments!

Janith said...

Sri Lanka definitely has an interesting history... and for a country so small, it has been featured extensively in the historical records from other nations, which goes to show what an important position it held in the ancient world and the trade routes between the East and the West... :)

Great post K!

Kirigalpoththa said...


You are correct. The location of Sri Lanka, is the main reason that many explorers, travellers and merchants went on to mention about Sri Lanka in their records.
Still we have this advantage..and it is just a matter of exploiting the full potential..

Thanks a lot for your comments!

Harshi said...

Great post..! I've come across some of these names before but didn't know them all. Thanks a lot for the brief but interesting history lesson. =D

Kirigalpoththa said...

I'm glad you like the post! :)

sumedha Obeysekera said...

As I heard word "serendipity" was added to english dictionary after the incident of naming Sri Lanka as "serendib"

Kirigalpoththa said...

Thanks for that facts! Very interesting!!

Butterfly Blogs said...

Grate site you have

Kirigalpoththa said...

Thanks very much for dropping by and for your comments!
Saw your very impressive site.
Keep it up!