Sri Lanka has had a variety of names in its history. Referred to as Lanka in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the ancient Greeks called it Taprobane and the Arabs knew it as Serendip or Serendib. In 1505 the Portuguese landed there and called it Ceilao (possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word "sinha", meaning lion; the Sinhalese people are the island’s main ethnic group). Ceilao was anglicised and became Ceylon, by which name it was known while it was part of the British Empire. It gained independence in 1948, and in 1972 it was officially renamed as Sri Lanka.
The Three Princes of Serendip is an old Persian folk tale, in which the titular wise princes make a series of discoveries completely by accident. From this, the 18th-century English writer Horace Walpole coined the word "serendipity", meaning "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way".