Fifth century BC – Indo-Aryan migrants from northern India settle on the island; the Sinhalese emerge as the most powerful of the various clans.

Third century BC – Beginning of Tamil migration from India.

1505 – Portuguese arrive in Colombo, marking beginning of European interest.

1658 – Dutch force out Portuguese and establish control over whole island except central kingdom of Kandy.

1796 – Britain begins to take over island.

1815 – Kingdom of Kandy conquered. Britain starts bringing in Tamil labourers from southern India to work in tea, coffee and coconut plantations.

1833 – Whole island united under one British administration.

1931 – British grant the right to vote and introduce power sharing with Sinhalese-run cabinet.

1948 – Ceylon gains full independence.