In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. Known in India as Lanka or Sinhala, ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane /təˈprɒbəniː/ and Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word "serendipity"). Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon, and achieved independence as the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.
In Sinhala the country is known as ශ්රී ලංකා śrī laṃkā, and the island itself as ලංකාව laṃkāva, . In Tamil they are both இலங்கை ilaṅkai, . The name derives from the Sanskrit श्री लंका śrī (venerable) and lankā (island), its name in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In 1972, the name was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka". In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". The name Ceylon is still in use in the names of a number of organisations; in 2011, the Sri Lankan government announced a plan to rename all of those for which it is responsible.
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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:
“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.”
—Giambattista Vico (16881744)
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