Once known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka was a major economic hub and port for the British Empire, which granted it semi-independent ‘dominion’ status in 1948. Sri Lanka became a full republic on May 22, 1972 and is formally known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was Don Stephen Senanayake, who is widely considered the Father of the Nation. In 1972, William Gopallawa became the first President of Sri Lanka, replacing the British Empire’s Governor. Independence Day is also observed by Sri Lankan diaspora communities in other countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, and the United States. (Fun fact: Sri Lanka had the first female head of government in the modern world, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who was elected in 1960 and served for three terms).