This holiday is always celebrated on 4 February. Also known as Independence Day, it is Sri Lanka's National Day.
The holiday primarily celebrates Sri Lanka's independence from British rule on 4 February 1948, but is a day to remember Sri Lanka's struggle for independence from various regimes.
When Europeans first started arriving in the region for trade and imperial expansion, Sri Lanka was an attractive acquisition given its location and geography.
The Portuguese were the first to make a serious attempt at colonisation in the 16th century. About a century later, the island was coveted by the Dutch, leading to clashes between the Portuguese and Dutch.
Eventually, given their power base in the region and fearing the island could fall under French control, the British took control of the coastal areas in 1796, naming it Ceylon. By 1815 they were the first colonial power to control the whole island.
On 4 February 1948, British Ceylon was granted independence as Ceylon and became a dominion within the British Empire. Don Stephen Senanayake became its first Prime Minister.
In 1972 Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka, and became a republic within the commonwealth..
Sri Lankan National Day is celebrated with official ceremonies, and military parades. The main celebrations take place in the largest city, Colombo, where the President hoists the national flag and delivers a speech which is nationally televised.