The settlers on the East Coast would have moved inland along the Mahavali Ganga. Somewhat later there was perhaps an independent band of immigrants who settled in Rohana in the southeast, on the mouth of the Valave Ganga, with Magama as their chief seat of government. The settlers came in numerous clans and tribes; the most powerful of whom were the Sinhalese.

"By 250 BC there is evidence of a recognizably literate culture in the main areas of settlement - a contribution, no doubt, of the early Aryan settlers - even though the outlying communities may have remained pre-literate.

"We have at present no archaeological evidence with regard to the early Indo-Aryan settlers. No sites have yet revealed date which could help us identify some of the other influences which may have played upon the Island from 650 BC. In particular we have no archaeological finds that could be traced back to either the west of east coasts of India.

"While the Island's proximity to India brought it within easy reach of a diversity of influences from there over much of its history, the narrow stretch of sea which separates it from the subcontinent ensured that the civilization which evolved in Sri Lanka was not a mere variant of an Indian prototype but something distinctive or autonomous though the Indian element was never totally obliterated. Nothing contributed to this more than Buddhism.

"Less obvious than the Indian influence, but over the centuries just as important, was the influence from South-East Asia resulting from Sri Lanka's strategic location athwart the main sea-routes of the Indian Ocean. Exciting archaeological discoveries in South-East Asia over the last decade suggest the possibility that the influence of this region on Sri Lanka may have begun in pre-historic times." ( From 'A History of SRI LANKA' by K.M. de Silva, published by the Oxford University Press, 1981).

Thus, a unique and distinctive hydraulic civilization found nowhere else in the world, developed on this Island. It was tempered by a vibrant and dynamic Buddhist religio-culture that permeated all aspects of life. Notable within this value system was the near-total absence of greed for material possessions (tanha), non-violence (ahimsa), giving (dana), kindness (karuna), loving-kindness (metta), and so on that shaped the people's world-view. These factors gave rise to a distinctive ethos, which created and shaped a unique milieu that subsists to this day. They were, therefore, (and still are), friendly, hospitable, warm-hearted, tolerant, easy-going and, by and large, peaceable.

All of this is a time-honoured legacy of remarkable qualities distilled over the ages in the vat of time. It has so distinguished this people that numerous foreign commentators and observers, have, over the centuries, been impelled to leave behind their favourable comments.

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