Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sri Lanka's strategic importance

From the HindustanTimes.com comes a pretty good summary of how strategic the island of Sri Lanka is:
If the world is showing an extraordinary interest in the peace process in Sri Lanka; if the western donor nations have given $3 billion for post-tsunami reconstruction work in the island; and if India wants to be kept informed about what is going on constantly, it is because of Sri Lanka's strategic importance.

This conclusion is inescapable if one reads 'Strategic Significance of Sri Lanka' by Sri Lankan researcher Ramesh Somasundaram of Deakin University.

In this 2005 publication, brought out by Stamford Lake, Somasundaram tells us that Sri Lanka has had strategic importance in world history since the 17th century, attracting the Portuguese, Dutch, French, the British, and the Indians, in succession. Now, we may add a new entity, "the international community", to the list of interested parties.

The author gives three reasons for such interest: (1) Sri Lanka is strategically situated (2) It is ideally situated to be a major communication center, and (3) It has Trincomalee, described by the British Admiral Horatio Nelson as "the finest harbour in the world".

Sri Lanka occupies a strategic point in the Indian Ocean, whose vast expanse covering 2,850,000 sq miles, touches the shores of the Indian subcontinent in the North; Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia in the East; Antartica in the South; and East Africa in the West.

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