Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

According to abbreviationfinder, Colombo is the executive and judicial capital city of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. In 2004, Colombo had 672,743 residents, while the Colombo conurbation had 2,490,300 residents. Kotte – a tiny district within Colombo, 12.5 km southeast of the city center – is the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. See population of Sri Lanka.


The city of Colombo is located on the west coast of the island. It was founded 9 km south of the Kelani River. Colombo is a major port on the Indian Ocean. It has one of the largest man-made ports in the world and handles most of Sri Lanka’s foreign trade. [2]

Etymology of the name

The name Colombo was given to it by the Portuguese colonizers in 1505.

It is believed to derive from the Sinhalese word ‘kolon thota’, which means ‘harbor on the Kelani river’ or from ‘kola-amba-thota’, which means ‘harbor with lush mango trees’, being kola (leaves), and amba (mango).


The first written mention of the port may be that of Fa-hsien (337-422), a Chinese traveler of the fifth century of our era, who referred to the port as Gaolanbu.

In the 8th century AD, Arab merchants settled near the site of the present modern. Starting in the 16th century, the port was developed by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, who, in turn, settled on the island.

In 1815, when the Sinhalese chiefs deposed the king of the city of Kandy in the heart of Sri Lanka, and ceded their territory to the British, Colombo became the island’s capital. Western influence in the city has waned since Sri Lanka gained its independence in 1948.

The oldest districts of the city, which are closer to the port and north of Lake Beira, are known as the Fort and the Pettah (a name derived from the Tamil word pettai, which means ‘the city outside the fort’). El Fuerte continues to be a focal point of commercial and government activity, although less than in the past. Pettah has become a district of small shops, markets, and sidewalk stalls, with all the hallmarks of an oriental bazaar.

During the Dutch period, the urbanized area of Cinnamon Gardens, which lies south of Lake Beira, was an important cinnamon- producing region. [2]

Important buildings

Colombo has traditionally been considered the financial and economic center of the country, due to its port status. Today it is populated by huge modern buildings, including its own World Trade Center. [3]

In its narrow streets you can discover traces of its Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial past.

Colombo’s important buildings include:

  • the Secretary,
  • City Hall,
  • Clock Tower,
  • Negombo Fortress, built by the Dutch in 1644; here you can admire its original door,
    • the Clock Tower, which welcomed visitors,
    • the walls and warehouses that served as weapons warehouses,
    • the Sacred Tree, from Anuraghapura, which was planted by King Valagamba, [3]
  • the Cathedral of Santa Lucia,
  • the Galle Face Green (Colombo’s waterfront), [3]
    • the Galle Face Hotel,
  • the Wolvendahl church (built by the Dutch in 1749),
  • the Pettah bazaar, full of shops and stalls where you can make all kinds of purchases, from the typical delicacies of the country to precious stones and silver, [3]
  • Vijara-mahadevi park, the largest in the city
    • the National Museum, the largest in the country, located in the Cinnamon Gardens. The building is colonial in style and was inaugurated in the 19th century by “Sir” William Henry Gregory, British colonial ruler of Ceylon; It contains the country’s historical and cultural heritage, from paintings and sculptures, to maps, toys or movies. One of the most valuable objects that this museum houses are the jewels of the last king of Kandy, from the 17th century; [4]
    • the National Gallery of Art
    • the Natural History Museum
  • the hospital complex;
  • the University of Colombo (from 1921);
  • various Buddhist and Hindu temples,
  • The Queen’s House is another of the wonders that Colombo houses; This set of colonial buildings houses the official residence of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.


The city’s manufacturing industries are based on the processing of raw materials exported through the port. The general engineering industries are related to public services and to the sale, service, repair and assembly of motor vehicles and other machinery; light manufacturers process food, beverages, and tobacco.

Many factories are located on the outskirts of the city.

Colombo is also the commercial center of the island; the central offices of local and foreign banks, the Insurance Corporation (which has the insurance monopoly), brokerage houses and government corporations are located in the city. [2]


Trains connect Colombo with other major cities on the island.

There are also bus services within the city and to all parts of Sri Lanka.

The international airport is located in Katunayake and the Ratmalana airport handles domestic flights. [2]


Colombo has numerous parks and playing fields. Among them are Galle Face Green by the sea, Vihara Maha Devi Park and Ridgeway Golf Links. Cricket and football (soccer and rugby) fields are located throughout the city. Tennis and track events are also popular. You can enjoy bathing in the sea and surfing at Mount Lavinia Beach, located 11 km south of the city.

The National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka are located near Dehiwala.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

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