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Father of the Nation is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment of their country, state or nation. The term founding fathers may be used if more than one person is considered key.



Pater Patriae (plural Patres Patriae), also seen as Parens Patriae, was a Roman honorific meaning "Father of the Fatherland", bestowed by the Senate on heroes, and later on emperors.

The founding myths of many nations regard all the people as descendants of a progenitor, who is often eponymous, such as Lusus for Portugal (Lusitania), or Lech, Czech and Rus for Poland (Lechia), the Czech lands, and Rus'.

In the Hebrew Bible, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (or Israel) are literally fathers of the Land of Israel, since the Children of Israel are the descendants of Jacob.[1]

In the monarchial tradition, the monarch was often considered "father/mother of the nation", where the monarch is considered analogous to the tradition of a father or patriarch to guide over his family. This concept is expressed in the Divine Right expoused in some monarchies, while in others it is codified into constitutional law as in Spain, where the monarch is considered the personification and embodiment, the symbol of the unity and permanence of the nation.

Many dictators bestow titles upon themselves, which rarely survive the end of their regime. Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo's titles included "father of the nation", "older brother", and "Guide of the People".[2] Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire's included "Father of the nation", "the Guide", "the Messiah", "the Helmsman", "the Leopard", "the Sun-President", and "the Cock who Jumps on Anything That Moves".[3] In postcolonial Africa, "father of the nation" was a title used by many leaders both to refer to their role in the independence movement as a source of legitimacy, and to use paternalist symbolism as a source of continued popularity.[4] On Joseph Stalin's seventieth birthday in 1949, he was bestowed with the title "Father of Nations" [plural], for his establishment of "people's democracies" in countries occupied by the USSR after World War II.[5]

The title "Father of the Nation" is sometimes politically contested. The 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh declared Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to be "father of the nation". The BNP government removed this in 2004, to the protests of the oppostition Awami League, led by Rahman's daughter Sheikh Hasina.[6] A motion in the Parliament of Slovakia to proclaim controversial pre-war leader Andrej Hlinka "father of the nation" nearly passed in September 2007.[7]


The following people are still often called the "Father" of their respective nations.

Name Nation Title (native) Title (translation) Notes
Mohammed Zahir Shah Afghanistan Father of the Fatherland Former King of Afghanistan. Title bestowed by the 2002 loya jirga and confirmed by Article 158 of the Constitution of Afghanistan[8]
Sir Henry Parkes Australia Father of Federation Earliest advocate of a Federal Council of the then colonies of Australia, a precursor to the Federation of Australia.
Sir Lynden Pindling Bahamas Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1973.[9]
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bangladesh Jatir Pita ,Banglabandhu Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1971.
George Cadle Price Belize Father of the Nation Former Chief Minister, Premier and two-term Prime Minister before retiring in 1997.[10][11]
Sun Yat-sen Republic of China (Taiwan) Guófù Chinese: 國父 Father of the Nation The Kuomintang (KMT) decreed the title in 1940.
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Cuba Padre de la Patria[12] Father of the Motherland[13] Leader of the first Cuban independence movement which fought the Ten Years' War.
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor (Karel IV) Czech lands Otec vlasti Father of the Homeland King of Bohemia. Title coined by the rector of the Charles University of Prague at the emperor's funeral[14]
František Palacký Czech lands Otec národa Father of the Nation Politician and historian.[14] Whereas vlast "homeland" included all inhabitants (see Sudeten Germans), národ "nation" comprised only Czech speakers.[15]
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Czech lands Tatíček Masaryk Dear father (Bohemian dialect,informal) Masaryk First president of Czechoslovakia[14]
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi India Bapu, Rashtrapita[16] Father of the Nation First used by Subhas Chandra Bose in a radio address from Singapore in 1944.[17] Recognized by the Indian government.[18]
Sukarno Indonesia Bapak Bangsa/Pemimpin Besar Revolusi Indonesia Father of Nation/Great Leader of Indonesian Revolution First President of Indonesia.
Jomo Kenyatta Kenya Father of The Nation First President of Kenya from 1963 to his death in 1978 who helped create the Kenyan Comstitution
Ibrahim Rugova Kosovo Father Of The Nation First President of Kosovo.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysia Bapa Kemerdekaan Father of Independence The first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Mauritius Father of the Nation[19] First post-independence Prime Minister, in 1968.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Mexico Padre de la patria mexicana[20] Father of the Mexican Nation[21] First revolutionary leader in the Mexican War of Independence.
Sam Nujoma Namibia Founding Father of the Namibian Nation First President of Namibia, 1989–2004; title conferred by Act of Parliament in 2005.[22]
William the Silent Netherlands Vader des Vaderlands Father of the Fatherland Leader of the successful Dutch Revolt against Spain, which led to the Dutch Republic (the first independent Dutch state)[23]
Einar Gerhardsen Norway Landsfaderen Father of the Nation The post–World War II prime minister of Norway[24]
Mohammad Ali Jinnah Pakistan Baba-e-Qaum[25][26] Father of the Nation Leader of the Muslim League, first Governor-General of Pakistan.
Sir Michael Somare Papua New Guinea Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1975; also known as "the chief" and "the old man".[27]
Peter I of Russia Russia Отец Отечества Father of the Fatherland Was granted the title in 1721 by the Governing Senate, along with "Emperor of Russia" and "The Great".[28]
Sir John Compton Saint Lucia Father of the Nation Prime Minister at independence in 1979. Also known as "Daddy Compton".[29]
Janez Bleiweis Slovenia Oče naroda Father of the Nation[30] Leader of the Slovene National Movement in the Austrian Empire (later in Austria-Hungary), between 1848 and 1881.
Don Stephen Senanayake Sri Lanka Father of the Nation First Prime Minister, from 1947 to 1952.[31]
Johan Ferrier Suriname Vader des Vaderlands Father of the Nation First president after the independence of the country in 1975 (the term Vader des Vaderlands has its roots in the Netherlands)
Julius Nyerere Tanzania Baba wa Taifa Father of the Nation First President of Tanzania[32]
Mustafa Kemal Turkey Atatürk [Great] Father of the Turks Adopted in accordance with a 1934 law establishing surnames in Turkey.[33]
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan United Arab Emirates Father of the Nation President of the UAE for its first 33 years (1971–2004)[34][35]
George Washington United States Father of His Country[36] Commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, and first President of the United States
José Gervasio Artigas Uruguay Padre de la independencia uruguaya[37] Father of Uruguayan independence[38] Fought against British, Spanish, and Portuguese colonial armies in Río de la Plata.


  1. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1982). "Israel, History of the People of". The international standard Bible encyclopedia. Vol.2. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 909. ISBN 0802837824. "The Israelites are named for their patronymic ancestor Jacob (Israel) ... Although Abraham is accounted the father of the nation, the Israelite tribes traced their lineage from Abraham through Isaac to Jacob." 
  2. ^ Triulzi, Alessandro (1996). "African cities, historical memory, and street buzz". in Iain Chambers & Lidia Curti. The Post-colonial Question. Routledge. pp. 88. ISBN 0415108578. 
  3. ^ Haskin, Jeanne M. (2005). The Tragic State of the Congo: From Decolonization to Dictatorship. Algora Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 0875864171. 
  4. ^ Schatzberg, Michael G. (2001). Political Legitimacy in Middle Africa: Father, Family, Food. Indiana University Press. pp. passim, see index; and esp. p.8 & p.213. ISBN 0253339928. 
  5. ^ Paczkowski, Andrzej (2003). The Spring Will be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom. translated by Jane Cave. Penn State Press. p. 210. ISBN 0271023082. 
  6. ^ "Country profile: Bangladesh". BBC News. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  7. ^ Balogová, Beata (2007-12-17). "2007 was turbulent for the ruling coalition". The Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  8. ^ "The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan". 
  9. ^ "The death of Jeffrey Thompson". Freeport News (The Nassau Guardian (1844) Ltd). March 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-17. "it has been well documented that Sir Lynden Pindling was the leader of the political movement that led to the attainment of majority rule on January 10, 1967, and that he is recognized as the Father of the Nation — the man who was the country's leader when The Bahamas obtained its independence from Great Britain on July 10, 1973." 
  10. ^ "Rt. Hon. George Price". (CARICOM). March 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-30. "Rt. Honourable George Cadle Price, "Father of the Nation" of Belize" 
  11. ^ "The Father of the Nation Turns 90". 7 News Belize. January 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-13. "Even Prime Minister Dean Barrow calls George Price the father of the nation" 
  12. ^ "Homenaje a Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Padre de la Patria" (in Spanish). Trabajadores. 2005-06-19. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  13. ^ Hautrive, Iliana (2004-10-10). "Cuba commemorates the 136 anniversary of the beginning of its wars of independence". Trabajadores. Retrieved 2009-01-16. "Cuba commemorates this Sunday the beginning of its wars of independence, the 10 of October of 1868, when the insigne patriotic Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, considered the Father of the Motherland, gave the freedom to his slaves to begin the fight by the liberation of the Nation." 
  14. ^ a b c Roberts, Andrew Lawrence (2005). From Good King Wenceslas to the Good Soldier Švejk: A Dictionary of Czech Popular Culture. Central European University Press. pp. 102. ISBN 963732626X. 
  15. ^ Sayer, Derek; Alena Sayer (2000). The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History. Princeton University Press. pp. 129. ISBN 069105052X. 
  16. ^ Sharma, K.K. (February 2007). "India at a Glance: Great Personalities of Modern India". Pratiyogita Darpan: 1338.,M1. 
  17. ^ Bose, Mihir (2004). Raj, Secrets, Revolution: A Life of Subhas Chandra Bose. Grice Chapman. pp. 277. ISBN 0954572645. 
  18. ^ Nehru's address on Gandhi's death. Retrieved on 30 April 2008.
  19. ^ "Centenary of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.". Mauritius Post Museum. Mauritius Post. 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-20. "Known as the "Father of the Nation", Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam has throughout his political career from 1940 to 1982 been closely associated with the significant emancipation of the people of Mauritius and has led the struggle for Independence." 
  20. ^ "El Grito, una tradición popular mexicana sin dueño" (in Spanish). El Periodico de Mexico. 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2009-02-07. "Miguel Hidalgo, considerado el "padre de la patria" mexicana" 
  21. ^ Vazquez-Gomez, Juana (1997). Dictionary of Mexican Rulers, 1325-1997. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. ISBN 9780313300493. 
  22. ^ "Promulgation of Conferment of Status of Founding Father of the Namibian Nation Act, 2005 (Act No. 16 of 2005), of the Parliament". Government Gazette (Windhoek: Republic of Namibia) (3567). 29 December 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  23. ^ The Oude and Nieuwe Kerk in Delft
  24. ^ (Norwegian) Bjørn Talen (1987-05-09). "Gratulerer, kjære landsmann!". Aftenposten. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  25. ^ "Quaid's 60th death anniversary being marked today". The News International. September 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-09. "Today the nation marks the 60th Death anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, known as Quaid-e-Azam, meaning "Great Leader" and Baba-e-Qaum meaning Father of the Nation." 
  26. ^ "Father of the Nation : Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah". Government of Pakistan. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  27. ^ East, Roger; Richard Thomas (2003). "Papua New Guinea". Profiles of People in Power. Routledge. p. 408. ISBN 185743126X. 
  28. ^ Anisimov, Evgeniĭ Viktorovich (1993). The Reforms of Peter the Great: Progress Through Coercion in Russia. translator John T. Alexander. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 143. ISBN 1563240475. 
  29. ^ "Obituary: Sir John Compton". Daily Telegraph. 10 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Phadnis, Urmila; Rajat Ganguly (2001). Ethnicity and Nation-building in South Asia (revised ed.). SAGE. pp. 181. ISBN 0761994394. 
  32. ^ Duval Smith, Alex (20 October 1999). "Tanzania weeps for father of the nation". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  33. ^ Parla, Taha; Andrew Davison (2004). Corporatist Ideology in Kemalist Turkey: Progress Or Order?. Syracuse University Press. pp. 37–8. ISBN 0815630549. 
  34. ^ "Abu Dhabi's Zayed Mosque tours to take on special Ramadan significance". Press release. August 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-17. "His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, a man affectionately known as 'The Father of The Nation' for his work as an architect of the UAE Federation." 
  35. ^ Wheeler, Julia (2 November 2004). "Obituary: Sheikh Zayed". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 2009-01-17. "He was frequently referred to as the father of the nation." 
  36. ^ Grizzard, Frank E. (2002). "Father of His Country". George Washington: a biographical companion. ABC-CLIO. pp. 105–7. ISBN 1576070824.,M1. 
  37. ^ "Efemérides Culturales Argentinas: Junio 19" (in Spanish). Ministry of Education, Argentina. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-20. "1764: Nace en Montevideo (Uruguay) José Gervasio Artigas, iniciador rioplatense del federalismo y padre de la independencia uruguaya. Falleció cerca de Asunción el 23 de septiembre de 1850." 
  38. ^ Edelmann, Alexander Taylor (1965). Latin American Government and Politics: The Dynamics of a Revolutionary Society. Dorsey Press. p. 309. "José Gervasio Artigas, who doggedly led his guerrilla bands against the Spanish armies and raised the flag of a free Uruguay, is affectionately remembered by his fellow countrymen as "the father of Uruguayan independence."" 

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