This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Sri Lanka

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Last modified: 2002-07-13 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: sri lanka | ceylon | lion | sword | leaf: bo | pipul tree | buddhism | police | blue ensign | bo leaves |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya
Ilangai Jananayaka Socialisa Kudiarasu

[Sri Lanka] by Mark Sensen

See also:


DK Pocket Book (1997) shows the flag of Kandy, a.k.a. the Lion flag, "which was used as the national flag of Ceylon prior to 1815 when it became a British colony". It is the right part of the current Sri Lankan flag, but there are no leaves in the corners, but "finials derived from the spire on top of a Buddhist temple".
Ivan Sache, 10 October 1999

1948 flag

[1948 flag]
by Jaume Ollé, 7 July 2001
[1948 flag with maroon background]
by Jaume Ollé, 7 July 2001

The necessity of a National Flag was discussed even before Sri Lanka gained independence on February 4th, 1948. Mr. A. Sinnalebbe, MP for Batticaloa tabled a motion in the State Council on January 16th, 1948 suggesting that the Lion Flag of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe which was taken to Britain in 1815 should be made the National Flag. This was debated and later Prime Minister Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake named an Advisory Committee for the formulation of a National Flag. The Members of the Committee were Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (Chairmen), Sir John Kotalawela, Mr. J.R. Jayewardene, Mr. T.B. Jayah, Dr. L.A. Rajapakse, Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam and Senator S. Nadesan, and Dr. Senarath Paranavithana (Secretary).

Although a Committee for the formulation of a national flag was appointed no finality had been reached when the first Independence Day was celebrated on February 4th, 1948. However the Lion Flag fluttered on that day. The Lion Flag and the British Union Jack fluttered on the occasion of the opening of the first Parliament of independent Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) on February 11th, 1948. Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake unfurled the Lion Flag at the Octagon (Pattirippuwa) during the Independence celebrations held in Kandy on February 12th, 1948.
Collected from by Dov Gutterman, 8 January 1999.

I have seen two different versions of the flag adopted in February 1948. One is a yellow lion holding a sword in the right hand facing the hoist on a dark red background with four yellow silhouettes of a Buddhist pagoda in four corners with a yellow border and a black thin border inside. The other was exactly the same without the black thin border.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 May 2000

From Flags by Carol P. Shaw, Running Press Gem, 1994:

The design of this flag has evolved gradually in an attempt to achieve national unity since the country, then known as Ceylon, gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Originally, the flag's central emblem was a gold lion and sword on a red field, derived from the flag of the Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy. As a consequence, it was not popular with the minority groups in the country, and so was amended in 1951 to include a green and orange band, to represent the Muslim and Tamil communities respectively. Finally, when the country adopted the local name of Sri Lanka in 1972, the flag was modified once more, with four leaves of the pipul tree, a Buddhist symbol, added to the four corners of the dark red panel. This version of the flag was in official use from 1978.
In 1972 the leaves replaced "finials" that were previously located in the corners. In 1978 the leaves were made more "natural".

Nick Artimovich, 2 October 1996

The National Flag recommended by the special committee was presented to Parliament by Mr. D.S. Senanayake on March 2nd, 1951 and adopted. It had two strips, one green and the other yellow. Each of these strips had to be equal to one seventh the size of the flag.

When Sri Lanka was first made a Republic in 1972 the stylized Bo Leaves depicted in the National Flag were changed to resemble natural Bo leaves. The amended flag was first unfurled at the Republic Day celebrations held on May 22nd, 1972. The National Flag is incorporated in Section 6 Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka of September 09th, 1978.

Except for the new Bo leaves the present flag is the same flag recommended by the National Flag Formulation Committee on March 2nd, 1951.
Collected from by Dov Gutterman, 8 January 1999.

The Kandy kingdom flag officially hoisted on 4th February 1948 had sinhalese pines in the four corners. On 22nd May 1972 the sinhalese pines were changed to leaves of bo or pipul. On 7th September the was a very small change in the leaves that is very difficult to perceive and a change in the background colour shade.
Jaume Ollé, 27 May 2000

From Smith (1975):

The bo leaves of the sacred pipul tree in the corners are a symbol of the religion of the majority: Gautama is supposed to have received enlightenment, becoming the Buddha after meditation under a pipul tree.
This would mean that pipul is a tree and bo the name given to the leaves of this specific tree...
Ivan Sache, 10 October 1999

For two conflicting views on the meaning and political correctness of the Sri Lankan flag, see: and
Zeljko Heimer, 18 May 2000

Governor General (Ceylon)

[Sri Lanka] by Dirk Sch§nberger

Sri Lanka Police

The flag of the Sri Lanka Police can be found at
Zeljko Heimer, 18 May 2000

CHANNELS :: Compare Country infoCountry guide & StudyFlagsMapsSightseeingTravel WarningsHotel Directory DESTINATIONS :: AsiaAfricaCaribbean Middle EastNorth AmericaSouth AmericaCentral AmericaOceania PacificEuropePolar Regions UTILITIES :: WeatherWorld TimeISD CodesTravel Links Link Exchange
DestinationsMonuments WONDERS :: AncientModernNatural | Privacy Policy