Anuradhapura is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It was the third capital of the kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara. The city, now a World Heritage site, was the centre of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. The city lies 205 km (127 mi) north of the current capital of Colombo in the North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu River. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. It is believed that from the fourth century BCE until the beginning of the 11th century CE it was the capital of the Sinhalese. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centres of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over 16 square miles (41 km2).