The Jaffna Kingdom, also known as the Kingdom of Aryacakravarthi, was established with Nallur ( aka Sinkai Nagar) as the capital in the early 13th century by Indian invaders, at which time it was a separate island disconnected from the rest of Ceylon. The kingdom continued under the rule of the South Indian kings till the 14th century when it got independence from India and became a separate kingdom until its defeat (during the reign of King Cankili II) during the Portugese invasion in 1619. In spite of its founding as a kingdom in the 13th century, records show that it might have functioned as a seat of power with its own kings as early as the 1st century AD. After the Portugese invasion Jaffna town, Jaffapattao or Jaffnapattnam, served as their colonial administration center. During the Dutch Era, many destroyed temples were rebuilt along with the Jaffna fort. They also built several Presbyterian churches. The British Era, until the independence of Sri Lanka, saw several schools being built by missionaries along with roads and railroad lines to the mainland, and Jaffna prospered.
Jaffna as a kingdom appears to have had an advanced thriving economy based on production, fishing, elephants and pearls which were brought in from the Puttalam region that was part of the Jaffna Kingdom in ancient times. In fact the capital was said to have been moved from Nallur to Puttalam during the pearling season each year. Jaffna was less feudal than Kandy or Kotte and used monetary transactions rather than transactions using land or produce.