On This Day: Sri Lanka gains independence

On This Day: Sri Lanka gains independence

February 4, 1948: The proud island nation of Sri Lanka gained its full independence on this day back in 1948.

Then called Ceylon, the new constitution took effect after rising public pressure for change following the end of the Second World War.

During the war the island had served as an important base for the Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire.

It was Don Senanayake who held the honour of becoming the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

In the British Pathé video (which has no sound) Mr Senanayake can be seen  walking across the parade ground in Colombo alongside Prince Henry and the Duke of Goucester, while the Duchess of Gloucester watches on.

He raises the flag of the newly-independent nation in a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry, cheered on by thousands of jubilant islanders.

The day is now marked every year with much dancing, singing and performances that showcase the island's national unity and fascinating culture.