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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 Portugalmarker (Lusitania), or Lech, Czech and Rus for Polandmarker (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.

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 permanance of the nation.

Many dictator bestow titles upon themselves, which rarely survive the end of their regime. Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togomarker's titles included "father of the nation", "older brother", and "Guide of the People". Mobutu Sese Seko of Zairemarker'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".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. 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.

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. A motion in the Parliament of Slovakia to proclaim controversial pre-war leader Andrej Hlinka "father of the nation" nearly passed in September 2007.


The following people are still often called the "Father" of their respective nations.
Name Nation Title (native) Title (translation) Notes
Mohammed Zahir Shah Afghanistanmarker 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
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 Bahamasmarker Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bangladeshmarker Jatir Pita Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1971.
George Cadle Price Belizemarker Father of the Nation Former Chief Minister, Premier and two-term Prime Minister before retiring in 1997.
Sun Yat-sen Republic of Chinamarker (Taiwanmarker) Guófù Father of the Nation The Kuomintang (KMT) decreed the title in 1940.
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Cubamarker Padre de la Patria Father of the Motherland 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
František Palacký Czech lands Otec národa Father of the Nation Politician and historian. Whereas vlast "homeland" included all inhabitants (see Sudeten Germans), národ "nation" comprised only Czech speakers.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Czech lands Tatiček Little father First president of Czechoslovakia
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Indiamarker Bapu, Rashtrapita Father of the Nation First used by Subhas Chandra Bose in a radio address from Singaporemarker in 1944. Recognized by the Indian government.
Sukarno Indonesiamarker Bapak Bangsa/Pemimpin Besar Revolusi Indonesia Father of Nation/Great Leader of Indonesian Revolution First President of Indonesia.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysiamarker Bapa Kemerdekaan Father of Independence The first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Mauritiusmarker Father of the Nation First post-independence Prime Minister, in 1968.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Mexicomarker Padre de la patria mexicana Father of the Mexican Nation First revolutionary leader in the Mexican War of Independence.
Sam Nujoma Namibiamarker Founding Father of the Namibian Nation First President of Namibia, 1989–2004; title conferred by Act of Parliament in 2005.
William the Silent Netherlandsmarker 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)
Einar Gerhardsen Norwaymarker Landsfaderen Father of the Nation The post–World War II prime minister of Norwaymarker
Mohammad Ali Jinnah Pakistanmarker Baba-e-Qaum Father of the Nation Leader of the Muslim League, first Governor-General of Pakistan.
Sir Michael Somare Papua New Guineamarker Father of the Nation Leader at independence in 1975; also known as "the chief" and "the old man".
Peter I of Russia Russiamarker Отец Отечества Father of the Fatherland Was granted the title in 1721 by the Governing Senate, along with "Emperor of Russia" and "The Great".
Sir John Compton Saint Luciamarker Father of the Nation Prime Minister at independence in 1979. Also known as "Daddy Compton".
Don Stephen Senanayake Sri Lankamarker Father of the Nation First Prime Minister, from 1947 to 1952.
Julius Nyerere Tanzania Baba wa Taifa Father of the Nation First President of Tanzania
Mustafa Kemal Turkeymarker Atatürk [Great] Father of the Turks Adopted in accordance with a 1934 law establishing surnames in Turkey.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan United Arab Emiratesmarker Father of the Nation President of the UAE for its first 33 years (1971-2004)
George Washington United Statesmarker Father of His Country Commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, and first President of the United States
José Gervasio Artigas Uruguaymarker Padre de la independencia uruguaya Father of Uruguayan independence Fought against British, Spanish, and Portuguese colonial armies in Río de la Platamarker.
Ho Chi Minh Viet Nammarker Cha già dân tộc Father of the Nation Declaring the independence of Viet Nam from France and Japan, first President of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam


  1. Nehru's address on Gandhi's death. Retrieved on 30 April 2008.
  2. The Oude and Nieuwe Kerk in Delft

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