Modern communication, Western medical services, education in English, as well as the plantation industry (first coffee and then tea, rubber and coconut) developed during British rule. By a process of peaceful, constitutional evolution, Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948 and became a sovereign republic in 1972, with membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations Organization. The country has enjoyed a democratic multi-party system ever since.
In the year 1977 the United National Party won the general election by a majority of 5/6 and in 1978 a new constitution was established with the Executive Presidency which conferred great power on the presidency. The open economy was introduced by the UNP government under the Executive Presidency of J.R.Jayawarden Since then, there have been six executive presidents including the current president His Excellency Maithreepala Sirisena.