Sri Lanka: Ancient Civilization



This statute of Buddha was carved in the side of a
mountain in southern Sri Lanka when northern
Europeans were still living in log and dirt huts.

What does this evidence tell you about the
validity of the climatic determinist theory?



Answer: The greatest "civilizations" in the world are found in tropical latitudes, not in temperate climates, as climatic determinists would argue. The Sinhalese (74 percent of the current population) moved from north India and conquered the island, now called Sri Lanka, in the 6th century; Tamils (18 percent) arrived in the 11th century (labeled "Ceylon Tamils" on the ethnic map), settling in the northern and eastern sections of the island; and Arabs (7 percent) came in the 12th and 13th centuries (labeled "Ceylon Moor" on the ethnic map). The British imported more Tamils (labeled "Indian Tamils" on the ethnic map) from south India in the late 19th century to pick tea on their estates in the central highlands. Ethnic geographies are complex and, often, confusing to outsiders. Many of the Tamils, who arrived in the 10th century and have their own language and religion, are fighting for an independent country in the northern and eastern part of the island.


Created by Ingolf Vogeler on 1 February 1996; last revised on 07 March 2005.