The People of Sri Lanka Ancient Legends and Chronicles There had been a lot of research work, expeditions, scientific theories, philosophical thinking, religious ideologies published concerning the first appearance of mankind on earth. Theory of evolution indicates that man did not just appear on earth but during the course of time he evolved from the species of monkeys. It is a question left for discussion. The Biblical chronicles which is known to be the oldest document written on creation has failed to trace the exact details about the beginning of human existence. The Bible (in the book of Genesis) goes to describe about the appearance of mankind on earth as follows: In the beginning God created man and woman………. Without indications to know when was that beginning and where was that place of first signs of human appearance. Likewise there is no evidence to find as to when and where was the human existence traced in the soil of Sri Lanka. But legendary related that according to the Indian narration of the great Ramayanaya, man had been existing in Ceylon before 3,000 BC. There are other references which trace back to even millions of years. Buddhist Chronicles which were compiled by certain Buddhist monks in 500 BC as Mahavamsa described the origin of man in Ceylon was attributed to the arrival of Vijaya from India. But even at the time of Vijaya’s sailing into Thambapanni, in North Western region there had been people living in Ceylon since times unknown, otherwise Vijaya could not have married Queen Kuveni. Therefore, the human presence may have been in this island long before the recorded history. Those people had been the direct descendants of the aborigines who were thought to be Cobra worshipers and Demon worshippers (The Nagas and Yakshas). The time of origin of those two groups were not known. But it indicated a glimpse of early settlement of mankind in the island. They had been known as the unspoiled children of nature who were called Veddhas. They still remain in small numbers in Mahiyanganaya in Uva Province. They are proud to be called the descendants of the stone age inhabitants. The Veddhas cling to their indigenous life style, culture and traditions up to this date. The Sinhalese and Early Settlements The Sinhalese had never been found from any where in the world. They had been originated by a mixture of the Veddhas who used to inhabit the land since the times immemorial. There had been number of similarities such as skin complexion, dark long hair, language, habits between the Veddas and the Sinhalese. The Veddhas had been involved very strongly in formation of the Sinhala nation through means of inter marriage between the two groups. The first Sinhalese settlements were traced along rivers in the dry northern zone of the country. Unlike the Veddhas they deviated from hunting and killing of animals for their subsistence and accustomed themselves to agriculture and cultivation of dry food like rice, grains and vegetables. They found ways and means of preserving water which was very much essential for agriculture. The Sinhalese began to construct canals, storage tanks, reservoirs, and taught the whole world the art of conserving and managing water. Such early attempts on irrigation engineering reveal how brilliant had they been in power of thinking, understanding and inventing. The system of controlling water by means of valve pit was first discovered by the Sinhalese experts about 2,500 years ago. With the help of this invention they used to construct large scale irrigation work and preserve water for future use specially during times of drought. The Sinhala community expanded fast and began to settle down in many parts of the country. They also got mixed up with Tamils who migrated into the island from South India. Moreover the Moors or the Muslims who used to travel about through Ceylon for trade settled down in the country and mingled with the Sinhalese. Later during medieval era when the Europeans like the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British invaded Ceylon they also settled down in the country and mixed up themselves with the native Sinhala community. Except the unspoiled sons and daughters, the Veddhas the Sinhalese became a nation consisted of mixed blood. Thus the identity of the Sinhalese was gradually diminished. Thanks to the Buddhist influence on the nation there was a revival of patriotic feeling among the Sinhalese. Their main occupation was agriculture and cultivation of land with variety of edible crops such as paddy, kurakkan, yams, fruits and vegetables. The Sinhalese inherited certain qualitative behavioral patterns like honesty, faithfulness, compassion, duty consciousness, sense of responsibility they became famous for their hospitality with kind heartedness. Such high ideals have been commented by certain great writers, travelers, state leaders as edifying. The literacy they have acquired has been rated as above the standard level. In many aspects the Sinhalese remain an outstanding nation and they had been able to build up individuality and identity throughout years.