The flag of Sri Lanka is also known as the Lion Flag and was adopted in May of 1972. It consists of two main portions on a saffron yellow background, which borders each portion as well as in between. The largest portion is the right part of the flag and it takes up more than half the flag. This portion shows a golden lion on a burgundy background holding a sword in its right front paw. The sword is a kastane sword, which is a ceremonial blade of Sri Lankan origin. There is one golden bo leaf in each of the four corners of this portion. On the left side of the flag are two vertical bands. The one on the left is green and the one on the right is orange.
The lion represents the Sinhalese people as well as national bravery. The yellow on the flag and of the lion symbolizes Buddhism and the four main concepts of that religion are symbolized by the four bo leaves. The orange band represents the Tamil people, while the green represents the Moors. The maroon background with the lion also represents the Sinhalese. The lion symbol on the flag goes back to the first king of Sri Lanka, who came from India in 486 BC. The lion symbol continued to be used by the rulers following King Vijaya.
In 1815, the lion flag was replaced with the Union Jack as King George III was proclaimed the King of Ceylon. Between 1815 and 1948, the flag of British Ceylon was a blue ensign with the Union Jack in the upper left corner. In the right center portion was an emblem depicting an elephant and a temple in the background. Between 1948 and 1951, the flag of Ceylon once again bore the lion symbol. In this flag, the lion took up the majority of the flag on a burgundy background bordered thinly by black and then widely by gold. Four gold, elongated bo leaves were in the four corners. The flag of Ceylon between 1951 and 1972 was very similar to the modern Sri Lanka flag. The only difference is that the bo leaves in the corner were elongated rather than leaf-shaped.