Sri Lanka

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In traditional Sanskrit and Pali literaturethe island is called Sinhaladvipa, the wordnbala deriving from the Sinhalese wordinba (lion), and since the 15th century agolden lion holding a sword of authorityhas appeared on the crimson field of thetate banner. This flag with a yellow bordera symbol of Buddhism, was adopted as thefirst flag of independent Ceylon on4 February 1948. The lion denotes thedesire for peace, while the crimsonsymbolizes national pride. In 1950 thestripes of green (for the Muslims) andsaffron (for the Tamils) were added. In1972 and 1978 the finials in the cornerswere modified to represent the leaves ofthe fig tree (Ficus religiosa) under whichSiddartha Gautama sat when he receivedenlightenment and became the Buddha.The four leaves stand for love, compassion,sympathy and equanimity, which are virtuesextolled by Buddhism.