After decades of civil war, Sri Lanka is a war torn nation on a path for rebuilding and establishing itself on the world stage. Senior Enlisted leaders should be familiar with Sri Lanka, because of the diplomatic, military, and economic relationship Sri Lanka has with the United States. This paper will discuss the background, government, strategic importance, and the future direction of Sri Lanka.
The country of Sri Lanka is located in Southern Asia 18 nautical miles to the south east of the southern tip of India. It is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean and with an area of 25,332 square miles is slightly larger than West Virginia. The island’s landscape consists of 832 miles of sandy beaches extending to rolling plains, a central mastiff (mountain mass) and flat low lands. Sri Lanka’s territorial seas are the standard 12 nautical miles with a contiguous zone extending to 24 nautical miles. (world factbook)
The population of Sri Lanka is over 20 million. The Sri Lankan Department of Census and Statistics categorizes the population into five major ethnic groups: the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Moors, Sri Lankan Tamil, Indian Tamil, and others. The Sinhalese are the predominant ethnic group in the country consisting of 82% of the population. (Census). Interestingly enough, Sri Lankans judge the ethnic background of its people simply by the color of their skin, facial features, and the primary language spoken from birth. The official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala; however, the government gives recognition to both Sinhala and Tamil as the national languages of Sri Lanka. Under Sri Lankan constitutional law, English is the language to bridge communications between its people and the world. (World Factbook)
Sri Lanka’s value system and traditions stem from the four dominant ethnicities influenced by domestic and foreign entities of its multi-religious society. Buddhism is the most widely observed religion and is the official national religion of Sri Lanka (CORI). Less widely observed are Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Buddhism was instrumental in the establishment of the early Sinhalese kingdoms. It laid the ethical and philosophical foundation of Sinhalese culture and civilization. Tamils brought Hinduism from Southern India in the 5th and 6th Century when the Chola Dynasty ruled Southern India and Sri Lanka. Middle-Eastern traders eventually settled in Sri Lanka and brought with them Islam in the 10th Century. The Portuguese introduced Christianity in the 16th Century. Conversion to Christianity spread further from the Dutch Reformed Church, and during British colonization and rule Christianity spread on a mass scale. Eventually, the Sinhalese restricted Christianity with the use of political pressure. (tourism) The value system of the Sri Lankan people has grown and coincided together, however, the people have seen much conflict and disagreement concerning economic power, social status and political...