An island off the south-eastern coast of India, 880 km north of the equator in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a free, independent and sovereign nation with a population of 21 million. The first entries in the Mahavamsa - or "Great History" - date back to 543BC, which coincides with the arrival of Prince Vijaya in Sri Lanka. Some 300 years later, commenced the early Anuradhapura Period, with King Devanampiya Tissa as the first ruler. Sri Lanka's beaches, hill country, and archeological sites attract visitors from around the world.