The British occupied the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1796, and in 1833 merged the Tamil and Sinhala nations into one unit for administrative convenience. The island was the historical homeland of two ancient civilisations – the ancient Dravidian (Tamil) population, and the Sinhala people who arrived on the island with their legendary Prince Vijaya from the `city of Sinhapura in Bengal’ in the 6th century BC. When the Portuguese first landed on the island in the beginning of the 16th century, and the Dutch after them, both imperial powers governed the Tamil nation as a separate kingdom, recognising the Tamil homeland and the ethnic identity and integrity of the Tamil people. Between the 1840s and 1850s, a million mainly poor, oppressed castes from Tamil Nadu were imported. The mix stored up problems for the future, resulting in a long-standing civil-war around 30 years after the country gained independence from Britain in 1948.