Names of Sri Lanka
In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: Known in India as Lanka or Singhala, ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane 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 under the name Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.
In Singhala the country is known as Sri Lanka, and the island itself as Lankava. In Tamil they are both Ilangkai. The name derives from earlier Sanskrit forms by which the island is believed to have been known in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
In 1972, the official name of the country 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 as part of the names of some organzations; in 2011, the Sri Lankan government announced a plan to rename all of those for which it is responsible.