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Sri Lanka (Sinhala: ශ්රී ලංකා, Śrī Lankā; Tamil: இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island in the Indian Ocean which has been known under various names over time.
Under British rule, the island was known as Ceylon from 1815-1948.
The Republic of Sri Lanka was officially adopted as the country's name with the new constitution of 1972, From the word Sielen, many European forms were derived: Latin Seelan, Portuguese Ceilão, Spanish Ceilán, French Selon, Ceylan, Dutch Zeilan, Ceilan and Seylon, and of course the English Ceylon.
Ptolemy called the Island Salike, and the inhabitants Salai. Helabima means "Land of Helas", which is a name that Sinhalese were called.
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A possible theory is that the name Lanka is derived from the Tamil word "ilanku" (இலங்கு), which means "to shine" or "to glitter", thus making Lanka a name that means "that which glitters".
It is still widely used by the aborigines of Central and Eastern India to mean an island and especially an islet in a river.
The word is considered as belonging to Austro-Asiatic languages.
The name remained in use in early modern Europe, alongside the Persianate Serendip, with Traprobana mentioned in the first strophe of the Portuguese national epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões.
John Milton borrowed this for his epic poem Paradise Lost and Miguel de Cervantes mentions a fantastic Trapobana in Don Quixote.