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Sri Lanka’s worst ever maritime disaster reveals the true cost of our identity crisis | Sandali Handagama

<p>We must find a way to embrace shipping, the ocean and our place in the world without shackling ourselves to unpayable foreign debt</p><p>Growing up in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, it was drilled into me from an early age that my island was destined to be a maritime hub. At school, I was taught that Sri Lanka was once the heart of the <a href="https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/did-you-know-sri-lankan-harbour-cities-and-maritime-silk-roads">maritime Silk Road</a>, a network of trade routes that connected the east and west from 130BC to the mid-1400s.</p><p>My textbooks were filled with tales about how Sri Lanka’s strategic positioning and rich natural resources were so prized that it was consecutively colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires for almost four centuries.</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/31/sri-lanka-faces-disaster-burning-ship-spills-chemicals-beaches">Sri Lanka faces disaster as burning ship spills chemicals on beaches</a> </p><p>I cried as I watched the blazing fire, because of what it meant for my country and its stunning beaches and biodiversity</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/04/sri-lankans-face-up-to-unmeasurable-cost-of-cargo-ship-disaster">Sri Lankans face up to ‘unmeasurable cost’ of cargo ship disaster</a> </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/11/sri-lankas-worst-ever-maritime-disaster-reveals-the-true-cost-of-our-identity-crisis">Continue reading...</a>

We must find a way to embrace shipping, the ocean and our place in the world without shackling ourselves to unpayable foreign debt

Growing up in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, it was drilled into me from an early age that my island was destined to be a maritime hub. At school, I was taught that Sri Lanka was once the heart of the maritime Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected the east and west from 130BC to the mid-1400s.

My textbooks were filled with tales about how Sri Lanka’s strategic positioning and rich natural resources were so prized that it was consecutively colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires for almost four centuries.

Related: Sri Lanka faces disaster as burning ship spills chemicals on beaches

I cried as I watched the blazing fire, because of what it meant for my country and its stunning beaches and biodiversity

Related: Sri Lankans face up to ‘unmeasurable cost’ of cargo ship disaster

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