CEYLON ISLAND has an area of 24,702 square miles, and in 1881 a population of 2,759,738, of whom 1,469,553 were males and 1,290,185 females. It is under the rule of a Governor and Council, whose jurisdiction extends to Dependent Islands, with an area of 1060 square miles, comprising the Maldives, west of Ceylon, and the Cocos Islands, S.W. of Sumatra,—total area, 25,762 square miles. The population in 1844 was estimated at 1,442,062; in 1857 it amounted to 1,697,975, besides about 30,000 soldiers and foreigners. In 1871 the total population in the island was 2,406,262.
The mountain zone in the centre of the island is about 4000 square miles, its summits rising to between 3000 to 7000 feet, the highest mountain being Piduratalla galla, 8296 feet ; Adam's Peak being 7353 feet; Neueraellia, 6200. The Mahaveli ganga, the Ganga of Ptolemy's map, has a course of 150 miles to its embouchure at Trincomalee. The rich and well-watered delta between Colombo and Galle is an overgrown waste. The Singhalese, whose property it is, have covered it with cocoa nut, bread-fruit, and jack-fruit trees, and on those they are content to live, or rather exist, passing the greater part of their time in sleep, while the women of their household work.
The races in 1881— European, . . . . 4,836 Moormen, . 184,542 Eurasians,Burghers,17,886 Malays, . . . . 8,895 Singhalese, . 1,846,614 Veddahs, . . . . 2,228 Tamils, . . . . 687,248 Others, . . . . 7,489 Arranged according to religion— Males. Females.
Christians, . . 139,658 128,319 Buddhists, . . 888,357 809,713 Hindus, . . . 328,779 264,851 Muhammadan, . 111,339 86,436 Others, . . . . 1,420 866 Ceylon island has long been known to the people of the west, to Arabians, Africans, Jews, and Greeks. It is the Taprobane of the Greeks, which name appears to have been derived from Tamra parni (iu Pali Tambapanni), a place said to have been near Putlam, where the Magadha colonists under Vijaya, B.C. 543, had landed, and afterwards it applied to the whole island. Tamraparni is
also, however, the name of the principal river in Tinnevelly, opposite Ceylon. Milton writes of this people ' From India and the Golden Chersonese And utmost Indian isle Taprobane, Dusk faces with white silken turbands wreathed.' It has been several times overrun by conquering nations, and has also been aggressive. It was conquered by Vijaya B.C. 543 ; but in the early centuries of the Christian era there were wars with the Chola of the Peninsula, with alternate fortunes, and in the 12t11 century A.D. king Pra kraina Bahu defeated the kings of the Southern India States, and also conquered Cambodia. In the 15th century A.D. a Chinese army pene trated to the hill country, defeated the Singhalese forces, and captured the king, whom they carried to China. Its northern portion was twice captured by the Tamil race ; and in A.D. 1505, when the Portuguese arrived, it was divided under seven separate rulers. In 1656 the Dutch finally expelled the Portuguese, and the British landed in Ceylon. in 1796. In 1815 the last king of Kandy, Vikrama Sinha, a cruel monster, was deposed and banished to India by the British.
The Singhalese are comparatively few in the north of the island, in Jaffna, Vanni, and Manaar, but increase to the south, where they are 90 per cent. of the population. On the other hand, the Tamil race are most numerous in the northern dis tricts.—Jaffna 271,000, Eastern Province 69,243; on coffee estates 115,092, and scattered through the island 78,314. The Singhalese are per cent., and the Tamil per cent.
Kandyans inhabit the bill country, and are a hardy, robust race, only recently intermingling with the low country. Their language is made up of three component parts,—Elu (or Singhalese pure), the Pali, and the Sanskrit. They possess an extensive literature, and their religion is Buddhism. The low country Singhalese are either Buddhists, Roman Catholics, or Protestants.