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History of Ceylon Pepper

The name “Pepper” is derived from the Sanskrit name “pippali”.  The History of Pepper in the island dates back to well over 2000 years.  According to historical accounts spice cultivation and export have occurred even during the early kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.  In the middle ages, during the 16th century, it was the lure of spices that led the Europeans to invade countries in the East and pepper was one of the first, if not the first, spice traded between the East and the West.  Pepper was a much prized commodity at that time and was often referred to as “King of Spices” or “Black Gold”.  With the British colonization of the island in the 19th century, spices were planted in spice gardens of Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, for commercial purposes.  Pepper was mostly distributed in the up country wet zone.  However, the establishment of plantation crops such as Tea, Coffee and Cocoa by the British affected the spice cultivation, which regained its position only towards the latter part of the 20th Century.