In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to variety of names.

In antiquity, Sir Lanka was known to travelers by a variety of names. According to the Mahavansa, the legendary Prince Vijaya named the land Tambapanni, because his followers’ hands were reddened by the red soil of the area In Hindu mythology, such as the Ramayana, the island was referred to as Lanka (“Island”).

Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobana (Ancient Greek: Ταπροβανᾶ) or Taprobane (Ταπροβανῆ) from the word Tambapanni. The Persians and Arabs referred to it as Sarandib (the origin of the word “serendipity”) from Cerentivu or Siṃhaladvīpaḥ. Ceilao, the name given to Sir Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon; it achieved independence as the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.

The country is now known in Sinhalese as Sri Laṃka (. In 1972, its formal name was changed to “Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka”. Later in 1978 it was changed to the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. As the name Ceylon still appears in the names of a number of organizations, the Sri Lankan government announced in 2011 a plan to rename all those over which it has authority