Trade flourished between China, Southeast asia and Arabia by the first few centuries of the common era. Sri Lanka was a key stopping point on the southern or sea-bound branch of the Silk Road. Ships stopped there not only to restock on food, water and fuel, but also to buy cinnamon and other spices.
The archicture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377BC-1017AD), to the golden age of Polonnaruwa, and finally through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469-1815AD). In 1212 ethnic Tamil invaders from the Chola kingdom in southern India drove the Sinhalese south. The Tamils brought Hinduism to the island.
From the 16th century onwards multiple invaders appeared on Sri Lanka's shores; the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Netherlands and finally the British. UK troops defeated the last native Sri Lankan ruler, the King of Kandy, and began to govern Ceylon as an agricultural colony that grew rubber, tea, and coconuts.