Prior to the year 1972, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon. For more than a century Sri Lanka was a British crown colony but on 4 February, 1948 the country achieved its independence to officially become the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Don Stephen Senanayake became Sri Lanka's first Prime Minister.The independence day of Sri Lanka is a great national occasion celebrated with parades and pageants combined with the spirit of patriotism and national pride. The celebrations begin with the hoisting of the national flag and singing the national anthem, followed by the traditional lighting of the lamp ceremony. Subsequently there are various cultural programs.