Sri Lanka Sinhalese: officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia near south-east India. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the north-west and the Maldives to the south-west. Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II. Sri Lanka was known from the beginning of British colonial rule until 1972 as Ceylon . Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which decisively ended when the Sri Lankan military defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009.