Colombo (/kəˈlʌmboʊ/; Sinhalese: කොළඹ Kolamba,
pronounced [ˈkəlɐmbɞ]; Tamil: கொழும்பு,
translit. Koḻumpu) is the commercial capital and largest
city of Sri Lanka. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo
metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and
752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the
island and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the west
coast of the island and adjacent to the
Greater Colombo area which
includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri
Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia.
Colombo is often referred to as the
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of,
and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of
Sri Lanka and the district capital of Colombo
Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern
life and colonial buildings and ruins. It was the legislative
Sri Lanka until 1982.
Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the
East-West sea trade routes,
Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000
years ago. It was made the capital of the island when
Sri Lanka was
ceded to the
British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was
retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when
administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte,
Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
Like many cities, Colombo's urban area extends well beyond the
boundaries of a single local authority, encompassing other municipal
and urban councils such as
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Municipal
Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council,
Council, Kaduwela Municipal Council and Kotikawatte Mulleriyawa
Pradeshiya Sabha. The main city is home to a majority of Sri Lanka's
corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Famous
Galle Face Green, Viharamahadevi Park,
Colombo Racecourse, Planetarium, University of Colombo,
Mount Lavinia beach, Nelum Pokuna Theatre,
Colombo Lotus Tower
Colombo Lotus Tower (under
construction) as well as the National Museum.
2.1 Portuguese era
2.2 Dutch era
2.3 British era
2.4 After independence
6 Government and politics
6.1 Local government
6.2 National capital
7 City limits
8 Capital Zone suburbs
9 Outer suburbs
11 Law enforcement and crime
14.2 Dutch-era buildings
14.3 British-era buildings
15.1 Annual cultural events and fairs
15.2 Performing arts
15.3 Museums and art collections
16 Twin towns and sister cities
18 See also
19 Notes and references
20 Further reading
Coat of arms of
Colombo from the
Dutch Ceylon era, depicting a mango
The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is
believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name
කොලොන් තොට Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river
Another belief is that the name is derived from the Sinhalese name
කොල-අඹ-තොට Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbour with
leafy mango trees". This coincides with Robert Knox's history of
the island while he was a prisoner in Kandy. He writes that, "On the
West the City of Columbo, so called from a Tree the Natives call Ambo,
(which bears the Mango-fruit) growing in that place; but this never
bare fruit, but onely leaves, which in their Language is Cola and
thence they called the Tree Colambo: which the Christians in honour of
Columbus turned to Columbo."
The author of the oldest Sinhalese grammar, Sidatsangarava, written in
the 13th century wrote about a category of words that exclusively
belonged to early Sinhalese. It lists naramba (to see) and kolamba
(ford or harbour) as belonging to an indigenous source. Kolamba may
also be the source of the name of the commercial capital
Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Indian, Greek,
Persian, Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago.
Ibn Battuta who visited the island in the 14th century,
referred to it as Kalanpu. Arabs, whose prime interests were
trade, began to settle in
Colombo around the 8th century AD mostly
because the port helped their business by the way of controlling much
of the trade between the Sinhalese kingdoms and the outside world.
Their descendants now comprise the local Sri Lankan Moor
Portuguese explorers led by Dom
Lourenço de Almeida first arrived in
Sri Lanka in 1505. During their initial visit they made a treaty with
the King of Kotte,
Parakramabahu VIII (1484–1508), which enabled
them to trade in the island's crop of cinnamon, which lay along the
coastal areas of the island, including in Colombo. As part of the
treaty, the Portuguese were given full authority over the coastline in
exchange for the promise of guarding the coast against invaders. They
were allowed to establish a trading post in Colombo. Within a
short time, however, they expelled the
Muslim inhabitants of Colombo
and began to build a fort in 1517.
The Portuguese soon realized that control of
Sri Lanka was necessary
for protection of their coastal establishments in
India and they began
to manipulate the rulers of the
Kotte kingdom to gain control of the
area. After skilfully exploiting rivalries within the royal family,
they took control of a large area of the kingdom and the Sinhalese
King Mayadunne established a new kingdom at Sitawaka, a domain in the
Kotte kingdom. Before long he annexed much of the
and forced the Portuguese to retreat to Colombo, which was repeatedly
besieged by Mayadunne and the later kings of Sitawaka, forcing them to
seek reinforcement from their major base in Goa, India. Following the
fall of the kingdom in 1593, the Portuguese were able to establish
complete control over the coastal area, with
Colombo as their
capital. This part of
Colombo is still known as
houses the presidential palace and the majority of Colombo's five star
hotels. The area immediately outside
Fort is known as Pettah (Sinhala
පිට කොටුව piṭa koṭuva, "outer fort") and is a
Dutch engraving of
Colombo in about 1680
In 1638 the Dutch signed a treaty with King Rajasinha II of Kandy
which assured the king assistance in his war against the Portuguese in
exchange for a monopoly of the island's major trade goods. The
Portuguese resisted the Dutch and the Kandyans but were gradually
defeated in their strongholds beginning in 1639. The Dutch
Colombo in 1656 after an epic siege, at the end of which a
mere 93 Portuguese survivors were given safe conduct out of the fort.
Although the Dutch (e.g., Rijcklof van Goens) initially restored the
captured area back to the Sinhalese kings, they later refused to turn
them over and gained control over the island's richest cinnamon lands
Colombo which then served as the capital of the Dutch
maritime provinces under the control of the Dutch East
Colombo street scene in the early 20th century with a tramcar and the
old Town Hall in the background
Map of Colombo, ca 1914
Although the British captured
Colombo in 1796, it remained a British
military outpost until the Kandyan Kingdom was ceded to them in 1815
and they made
Colombo the capital of their newly created crown colony
of British Ceylon. Unlike the Portuguese and Dutch before them, whose
primary use of
Colombo was as a military fort, the British began
constructing houses and other civilian structures around the fort,
giving rise to the current City of Colombo.
Initially, they placed the administration of the city under a
"Collector", and John Macdowell of the Madras Service was the first to
hold the office. Then, in 1833, the Government Agent of the Western
Province was charged with the administration of the city. Centuries of
colonial rule had meant a decline of indigenous administration of
Colombo, and in 1865 the British conceived a Municipal Council as a
means of training the local population in self-governance. The
Legislative Council of Ceylon
Legislative Council of Ceylon constituted the
Council in 1865 and the Council met for the first time on the January
16, 1866. At the time, the population of the region was around
During the time they were in control of the Colombo, the British were
responsible for much of the planning of the present city. In some
parts of the city tram car tracks and granite flooring laid during the
era are still visible today.
The formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule at Independence
This era of colonialism ended peacefully in 1948 when Ceylon gained
independence from Britain. Due to the tremendous impact this
caused on the city's inhabitants and on the country as a whole, the
changes that resulted at the end of the colonial period were drastic.
An entire new culture took root. Changes in laws and customs, clothing
styles, religions and proper names were a significant result of the
colonial era. These cultural changes were followed by the
strengthening of the island's economy. Even today, the influence of
the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British is clearly visible in
Colombo's architecture, names, clothing, food, language and attitudes.
Buildings from all three eras stand as reminders of the turbulent past
of Colombo. The city and its people show an interesting mix of
European clothing and lifestyles together with local customs.
Colombo referred to the area around the
Fort and Pettah
Market which is famous for the variety of products available as well
as the Khan Clock Tower, a local landmark. At present, it refers to
the city limits of the
Colombo Municipal Council. More often, the
name is used for the
Conurbation known as Greater Colombo, which
encompasses several Municipal councils including Kotte, Dehiwela and
Colombo lost its status as the capital of
Sri Lanka in the
1980s, it continues to be the island's commercial centre. Despite the
official capital of
Sri Lanka moving to the adjacent Sri
Jayawardanapura Kotte, most countries still maintain their diplomatic
missions in Colombo.
Beira Lake at night
Colombo's geography is a mix of land and water. The city has many
canals and, in the heart of the city, the 65-hectare (160-acre) Beira
Lake. The lake is one of the most distinctive landmarks of
Colombo, and was used for centuries by colonists to defend the
city. It remains a popular attraction, hosting regattas, and
theatrical events on its shores. The Northern and North-Eastern border
of the city of
Colombo is formed by the Kelani River, which meets the
sea in a part of the city known as the Modera (mōdara in Sinhala)
which means river delta.
Colombo features a tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate
classification, falling just short of a tropical rainforest climate.
Colombo's climate is fairly temperate all throughout the year. From
March to April the average high temperature is around 31 °C
(87.8 °F). The only major change in the
occurs during the monsoon seasons from May to August and October to
January. This is the time of year where heavy rains can be expected.
Colombo sees little relative diurnal range of temperature, although
this is more marked in the drier winter months, where minimum
temperatures average 22 °C (71.6 °F). Rainfall in the city
averages around 2,500 millimetres (98 in) a year.
Climate data for Colombo,
Sri Lanka (1961–1990, extremes
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Average relative humidity (%) (at Daytime)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: NOAA
World Meteorological Organization
World Meteorological Organization (precipitation
Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes)
Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is located in the heart of the city along the Indian
Ocean coast, and is a popular destination for tourists and residents
Galle Face Hotel
Galle Face Hotel is a historic landmark on the southern
edge of this promenade.
Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo.
The temple's architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan,
Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture.
Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park) is an urban park
located next to the
National Museum of Colombo and the Town Hall. It
is the oldest and largest park in
Colombo and features a large Buddha
As part of the Urban Regeneration Program of the Government of Sri
Lanka, many old sites and buildings were revamped to modern public
recreational spaces and shopping precincts. These include Independence
Memorial Hall Square,
Pettah Floating Market
Pettah Floating Market and Old Dutch Hospital
The Seema Malakaya of the Gangarama Temple in the
Beira Lake in the
Slave Island area, is one of many religious structures in Colombo
Colombo is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city. The population of
Colombo is a mix of numerous ethnic groups, mainly Sinhalese, Sri
Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Moor. There are also small communities
of people with Chinese, Portuguese Burgher, Dutch Burgher, Malay, and
Indian origins living in the city, as well as numerous European
Colombo is the most populous city in Sri Lanka, with
642,163 people living within the city limits. In 1866 the city had
a population of around 80,000. According to the census of 2001 the
demographics of urban
Colombo by ethnicity is as follows.
% Of Total
Sri Lankan Tamils
Sri Lankan Moors
Sri Lankan Malays
Sri Lankan Chetty
Government and politics
Colombo Municipal Council
Colombo is a charter city, with a Mayor Council form of government.
Colombo's mayor and the council members are elected through local
government elections held once in five years. For the past 50 years
the city had been ruled by the
United National Party
United National Party (UNP), a right
leaning party, whose business friendly policies resonate with the
population of Colombo. However the UNP nomination list for the 2006
Municipal elections was rejected, and an Independent Group
supported by the UNP won the elections.
Uvais Mohamed Imitiyas was
subsequently appointed Mayor of Colombo.
The city government provides sewer, road management and waste
management services, in case of water, electricity and telephone
utility services the council liaises with the water supply and
drainage board, the Ceylon electricity board and telephone service
Colombo was the capital of the Coastal areas controlled by the
Portuguese, Dutch and the British from the 1700s to the 1815 when the
British gained control of the entire island following the Kandian
convention. From then until the 1980s the national capital of the
island was Colombo. During the 1980s plans were made to move the
administrative capital to
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte and thus move all
governmental institutions out of
Colombo to make way for commercial
activities. As a primary step the Parliament was moved to a new
Kotte and several ministries and departments were also
moved. However the move was never completed. Today many governmental
institutions still remain in Colombo. These include the President's
House, Presidential Secretariat,
Prime Minister's House
Prime Minister's House (Temple
Trees), Prime Minister's Office, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka,
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, important government ministries and
departments; such as Finance (Treasury), Defence, Public
Administration & Home affairs, Foreign affairs, Justice and the
Military headquarters, Naval headquarters (SLNS Parakrama), Air Force
headquarters (SLAF Colombo) and Police national and field force
Colombo is divided into 15 numbered areas for the purposes of postal
services. Within these areas are the suburbs with their corresponding
Colombo showing its administrative districts.
Slave Island, Union Place
Havelock Town, Kirulapana,
Mutwal, Modara, Mattakkuliya, Madampitiya
Capital Zone suburbs
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Legislature
Colombo City is the hub of Sri Lanka's economic activity
The great majority of Sri Lankan corporations have their head offices
Colombo including Aitken Spence, Ceylinco Corporation, Stassen
group of companies, John Keells Holdings, Cargills, Hemas Holdings,
and Akbar Brothers. Some of the industries include chemicals,
textiles, glass, cement, leather goods, furniture, and jewellery. In
the city centre is the World Trade Centre. The 40 story Twin Tower
complex is the centre of important commercial establishments, in the
Fort district, the city's nerve center. Right outside the
Fort area is
Pettah which is derived from the Sinhalese word pita which means 'out'
Arcade Independence Square
Arcade Independence Square shopping mall
Metropolitan area has a GDP of $48 billion or 40% of the
GDP, making it the most important aspect of the Sri Lankan economy.
The per capita income of
Colombo Metro area stood at US$8623 and
purchasing power per capita of $25,117, making it one of the most
prosperous regions in
South Asia considering Western Province
contribute for 50% of GDP in
Sri Lanka . The
(CM) area is the most important industrial, commercial and
administrative centre in Sri Lanka. A major share of the country's
export-oriented manufacturing takes place in the CM area which is the
engine of growth for Sri Lanka.
Galle Face Green, where many major events take place, is a favorite
location for many. It is in close proximity to many of the major
hotels. Formerly, it was the site of the city's race course, golf
course and the cricket field
The Western province contributes less than 40% to the GDP and about
80% of industrial value additions although it accounts for only 5.7%
of the country's geographic area and 25% of the national population.
Given its importance as the primary international gateway for Sri
Lanka and as the main economic driver of the country, the government
Sri Lanka (GoSL) has launched an ambitious program to transform
Colombo and its area into a metropolis of international standards.
Bottlenecks are preventing the
Colombo metropolitan area from
realizing its full economic potential. To facilitate the
transformation of Colombo, the government has to address these
bottlenecks which have for long been obstructing economic and physical
Pettah is more crowded than the
Fort area. Pettah's roads are always
packed and pavements are full of small stalls selling items from
delicious sharbat to shirts. Main Street consists mostly of clothes
shops and the cross roads, which are known as Cross Streets where each
of the five streets specializes in a specific business. For example,
the First Cross Street is mostly electronic goods shops, the Second
cellular phones and fancy goods. Most of these businesses are
Muslim traders. At the end of the Main Street further
Fort is the Sea Street — Sri Lanka's gold market —
dominated by Tamil interests. This mile-long street is full of
jewellery shops, including the former head office of SriLankan
Law enforcement and crime
The Supreme Court of
Sri Lanka is located in Colombo
Sri Lanka Police the main law enforcement agency of the island
liaise with the municipal council, but is under the control of the
Ministry of Defence of the central government. Policing in Colombo
and its suburbs falls within the Metropolitan Range headed by the
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Metropolitan), this also includes
Colombo Crime Division. As with most Sri Lankan cities, the
magistrate court handles felony crimes, the district court handles
As in other large cities around the world,
Colombo experiences certain
levels of street crime and bribery. Indeed, the corruption extends to
the very top, US reports show. In addition, in the period from the
1980s to 2009 there have been a number of major terrorist
LTTE has been linked to most of the bombings and
assassinations in the city.
Welikada Prison is situated in Colombo
and it is one of the largest maximum-security prisons in the
Colombo's streets at night
Colombo has most of the amenities that a modern city has. Compared to
other parts of the country,
Colombo has the highest degree of
infrastructure. Electricity, water and transport to street lamps,
phone booths, etc. have a considerably good standard. The majority of
the major shopping malls in
Sri Lanka are in the city, of which all
are wi-fi enabled. Apart from that, many luxurious hotels, clubs and
restaurants are in the city. In recent times there has been an outpour
of high rise condominiums, mainly due to the very high land
Container handling at
Colombo Harbour is the largest and one of the busiest ports in Sri
Colombo was established primarily as a port city during the
colonial era, with an artificial harbour that has been expanded over
the years. The
Sri Lanka Navy maintains a naval base, SLNS Rangalla,
within the harbour.
Port of Colombo
Port of Colombo handled 3.75 million twenty-foot equivalent units
in 2008, 10.6% up on 2007 (which itself was 9.7% up on 2006), bucking
the global economic trend. Of those, 817,000 were local shipments with
the rest transshipments. With a capacity of 5.7 million TEUs and a
dredged depth of over 15 m (49 ft), the
is one of the busiest ports in the world, and ranks among the top 25
Colombo has an extensive public transport system based on buses
operated both by private operators and the government owned Sri Lanka
Transport Board (SLTB). The three primary bus terminals — Bastian
Mawatha, Central, and the Gunasinghapura
Bus Terminals — are in
Pettah. Bastian Mawatha handles long distance services whereas
Gunasinghapura and Central handle local services.
Commuter Rail within the city
Main article: Rail transport in Sri Lanka
Train transport in the city is limited since most trains are meant for
transport to and from the city rather than within it and are often
overcrowded. However, the Central
Bus Stand and
Fort Railway Station
function as the island's primary hub for bus and rail transport
respectively. Up until the 1970s the city had tram services, which
were discontinued. Other means of transport includes auto rickshaws
(commonly called "three wheelers") and taxicabs. Three wheelers are
entirely operated by individuals and hardly regulated whilst cab
services are run by private companies and are metered.
Main Line –
Fort to Veyangoda; onwards to Kandy, Badulla,
Matale, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Kankesanturai.Trincomalee,
Talaimannar (presently just Madhu Road).
Coastal Line –
Colombo to Panadura; onwards to
Galle and Matara.
Puttalam Line –
Colombo to Ja-Ela; onwards to
Negombo and Puttalam.
Kelani Valley Line
Kelani Valley Line –
Colombo to Avissawella.
Post-war development in the
Colombo area also involves the
construction of numerous expressway grade arterial road routes. The
first of these constructed is the Southern Expressway, which goes from
Kottawa, a southern suburb of Colombo, to Matara City in the south of
the country. Expressways under construction in the Colombo
metropolitan area include the
Colombo–Katunayake Expressway which
was opened in October 2013 and the
Colombo orbital bypass Outer
Circular Highway (Arthur C. Clarke Expressway) which is due to be
opened in 2014. The
Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (E03) runs from
Peliyagoda, a nourthern suburb of Colombo, to
Airport and it linked with one of the major commercial hubs and a
major tourist destination of the country, the city of Negombo.
A1 highway connects
Colombo with Kandy.
A2 highway connects
Galle and Matara
A3 highway connects
Negombo and Puttalam
A4 highway connects
Ratnapura and Batticaloa
An international ferry liner, the Scotia Prince, is conducting a ferry
service to Tuticorin, India. Ferry services between the two countries
have been revived after more than 20 years.
Ratmalana Airport is the city's airport, located 15 km
(9.3 mi) south of the city centre. It commenced operating in 1935
and was the country's first international airport until it was
Bandaranaike Airport in 1967.
Ratmalana Airport now
primarily services domestic flights, aviation training and
international corporate flights.
Colombo Skyline – 2017
The two World Trade Centre towers used to be the most recognized
landmarks of the city. Before they were completed in 1997, the
Bank of Ceylon
Bank of Ceylon tower was the tallest structure and the most
prominent city landmark. Before the skyscrapers were built it was the
Old Parliament Building that stood majestically in the
Old Colombo Lighthouse
Old Colombo Lighthouse close to it. Another important
landmark is the Independence Hall at Independence Square in Cinnamon
Even before the parliament was built some claim that the Jami Ul-Alfar
Mosque was recognized as the landmark of
Colombo by sailors
approaching the port. The mosque is still one of the most visited
tourist sites in Colombo.
Another landmark is St.Paul's Church Milagiriya, one of the oldest
churches in Sri Lanka, first built by the Portuguese and re-built by
the British in 1848.
Fort district has Cargills & Millers complex that is protected
by a special government law from demolition. This is done mainly to
preserve the historic beauty of the
Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is the city's largest and most elegant promenade.
Lined with palm trees and adjacent to the coast, this mile-long
stretch in the heart of the city is a constant beehive of activity.
The green is especially busy on Fridays and Saturdays. In the evenings
it plays host to families and children playing sports and flying
kites, lovers embracing under umbrellas and health enthusiasts taking
their evening walks. There are numerous small food stalls and a small
stretch of beach. The green was recently[when?] given a makeover and
since then has been even more popular with the local community. The
Green frequently hosts international and local concerts and
performances, such as the recently concluded World Drum Festival.
Cannons that were once mounted on the rampart of the old fort of
Colombo laid out for observance and prestige at the Green, giving a
colonial touch to the city. The famous colonial styled
Hotel, known as Asia's Emerald on the Green since 1864, is adjacent to
Galle Face Green. The hotel has played host to distinguished guests
British Royal Family
British Royal Family and other royal guests and
celebrities. After a stay at the hotel, Princess Alexandra of Denmark
commented that "the peacefulness and generosity encountered at the
Galle Face Hotel
Galle Face Hotel cannot be matched." Also facing
Galle Face Green
Ceylon Inter-Continental Hotel, Sri Lanka's first five-star
hotel. Around the corner from
Galle Face are prominent coffee bars,
chic bars and boutiques.
Royal College Colombo, the oldest public school in the city.
Education institutions in
Colombo have a long history.
many of the prominent public schools in the country, some of them
government-owned and others private. Most of the prominent schools in
the city date back to the 1800s when they were established during the
British colonial rule, such as the Royal College Colombo
established in 1835. Certain urban schools of
Sri Lanka have some
religious alignment; this is partly due to the influence of British
who established Christian missionary schools. These include
the Anglican, Bishop's College(1875); the Methodist, Wesley College
Colombo (1874); the Buddhist,
Ananda College (1886); the Muslim,
Zahira College (1892); the St.Benedict's College (1985), the Catholic,
St. Joseph's College (1896). The religious alignments do not affect
the curriculum of the school except for the demographics of the
Colombo has many International Schools that
have come up in the recent years.
Higher education in the city has a long history, beginning with the
establishment of the
Colombo Medical School
Colombo Medical School (1870), the
College (1875), School of Agriculture (1884) and the Government
Technical College (1893). The first step in the creation of a
Colombo was taken in 1913 with the establishment of the
University College Colombo
University College Colombo which prepared students for the external
examinations of the University of London. This was followed by the
establishment of the
University of Ceylon
University of Ceylon in Colombo. Today the
University of Colombo
University of Colombo and the University of the Visual &
Performing Arts are state universities in the city. The Sri Lanka
Institute of Information Technology has a metropolitan campus in the
city centre. There are several private higher education institutions
in the city.
See also: Education in Sri Lanka
Hindu temple in the
Slave Island area
Colombo has wildly varying architecture that span centuries and depict
many styles. Colonial buildings influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch
and British exist alongside structures built in Buddhist, Hindu,
Islamic, Indian and Contemporary architectural styles. No other place
is this more evident in the
Fort area. Here one may find new towering
skyscrapers as well as historic buildings dating far back as the
The Portuguese were the first colonists to settle in Colombo;
establishing a small trading post, they had laid the foundations for a
small fort which in time became the largest colonial fort in the
island. The Dutch expanded the fort thus creating a well old fortified
harbour. This came into the possession of the British in the late
1700s and by the late 19th century the seeing no threat to the Colombo
Harbour, began demolishing the ramparts to make way for the
development of the city. Although now there is nothing left of the
fortifications, the area which was once the fort is still referred to
as Fort. The area outside is Pettah or පිටකොටුව
Pitakotuwa in Sinhalese which means outer fort.
The VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) logo of Dutch East India
Company on the gates of Wolvendaal Church
There are none of the buildings of the Portuguese era and only a few
from the Dutch period. These include the oldest building in the fort
area, the former Dutch Hospital, the Dutch House which is now the
Colombo Dutch Museum
Colombo Dutch Museum and several churches. The President's House
(formerly the Queen's House) was originally the Dutch governor's
house, and successive British governors made it their office and
residence. However, it has undergone much change since the Dutch
period. Adjoining the President's House are the Gordon Gardens, now
off limits to the public.
Much of the old buildings of the fort area and in other parts of the
city date back to the British times, these include governmental,
commercial buildings and private houses. Some of the notable
government building of British colonial architecture includes; the old
Parliament building which is now the Presidential Secretariat, the
Republic Building which houses the Ministry of Foreign affairs, but
once housed the Ceylon Legislative council, the General Treasury
Building, the old General Post Office an Edwardian style building
opposite the President's House, the Prime Minister's Office, the
Central Telegraph Office, the Mathematics department of the University
Colombo (formally the Royal College, Colombo). Notable
commercial buildings of the British era include the
Galle Face Hotel,
Cargills & Millers' complex, and Grand Oriental Hotel.
The historical Cargills & Millers building continues as the
headquarters of Cargills (Ceylon) PLC
The Old Parliament Building near the
Galle Face Green, now the
The Neoclassical style
Colombo National Museum
Annual cultural events and fairs
Vesak Thorana In Colombo
Christmas Celebrations In Colombo
Colombo's most beautiful festival is the celebration of Buddha's
birth, enlightenment and death all falling on the same day. In
Sinhala this is known as Vesak. During this festival, much of the
city is decorated with lanterns, lights and special displays of light
(known as thoran). The festival falls in mid May and lasts a week.
Many Sri Lankans visit the city to see the lantern competitions and
decorations. During this week people distribute, rice, drinks and
other food items for free in dunsal which means charity place. These
dunsal are popular amongst visitors from the suburbs.
Since there is a large number of Muslims in Colombo. Eid Ul Fitr and
Eid Ul Adha are two Islamic festivals that are celebrated in Colombo.
Many businesses flourish during the eventual countdown for Eid Ul Fitr
which is a major Islamic festival celebrated by Muslims after a
Colombo is generally very busy during the eve of
the festivals as people do their last minute shopping.
Christmas is another major festival. Although Sri Lanka's Christians
make up only just over 7% of the population, Christmas is one of the
island's biggest festivals. Most streets and commercial buildings
light up from the beginning of December and festive sales begin at all
shopping centres and department stores. Caroling and nativity plays
are frequent sights during the season.
The Sinhala and
Hindu Aluth Awurudda' is a cultural event that takes
place on 13 and 14 April. This is the celebration of the Sinhala and
Hindu new year. The festivities include many events and traditions
that display a great deal of Sri Lankan culture. Several old clubs of
the city give a glimpse of the British equestrian life style; these
Colombo Club, Orient Club, the 80 Club, the Colombo
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre is a major venue for the
Colombo has several performing arts centers which are popular for
their musical and theatrical performances. The most famous performing
arts centers are the Lionel Wendt Theatre, the Elphinstone, and Tower
Hall, all of which have a very rich history and made for western style
Navarangahala found in the city is the country's
first national theatre designed and build for Asian and local style
musical and theatrical productions.
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre is a world-class theatre
that opened in December 2011. Designed in the form of the Lotus
Pond in Polonnaruwa, the theatre is a major theatre destination.
Museums and art collections
The National Museum of Colombo, established on 1 January 1877 during
the tenure of the British Colonial Governor
Sir William Henry Gregory,
is in the
Cinnamon Gardens area. The museum houses the crown
jewels and throne of the last king of the kingdom of Kandy, Sri
There is also the
Colombo Dutch Museum
Colombo Dutch Museum detailing the Dutch colonial
history of the country.
Colombo does not boast a very big art gallery.
There is a small collection of random Sri Lankan paintings at the Art
Gallery in Green Path; next to it is the Natural History Museum.
One of the most popular sports in
Sri Lanka is cricket. The country
emerged as champions of the 1996
Cricket World Cup and became runners
up in 2007 and 2011. In the
ICC World Twenty20
ICC World Twenty20 they became runners up
in 2009 and 2012 and winners in 2014. The sport is played in parks,
playgrounds, beaches and even in the streets.
Colombo is the home for
two of the country's most popular international cricket stadiums,
Sinhalese Sports Club's cricket stadium and R.
(named after late president Premadasa).
Colombo has the distinction of being the only city in the world to
have four cricket test venues in the past: Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Sinhalese Sports Club
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground,
Colombo Cricket Club
Colombo Cricket Club Ground and
Premadasa Stadium. The
Sugathadasa Stadium is an
international standard stadium for athletics, swimming and football,
also held the
South Asian Games in 1991 and 2006. Situated in Colombo
Royal Colombo Golf Club
Royal Colombo Golf Club is one of the oldest in Asia. Other
sporting clubs in
Colombo Swimming Club, Colombo
Rowing Club and the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka.
Rugby is also a popular sport at the club and school level. Colombo
has its own local football team
Colombo FC and the sport is being
developed as a part of the FIFA Goal program.
Port City is to include a new Formula One track,
constructed in the vicinity of the
Colombo Harbour. According to Dr.
Priyath Wickrama, the Chairman of the
Sri Lanka Ports Authority, an
eight lane F1 track will "definitely" be a part of the New
This would host The Sri Lankan Grand Prix.
Colombo Marathon is an internationally recognised marathon established
Almost all major media businesses in
Sri Lanka operate from Colombo.
The state media has its offices in Bullers Road and does carry out
regional transmission from there. This includes the Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), formerly known as
Radio Ceylon and
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. The SLBC is the oldest radio
South Asia and the second oldest in the world. Many of the
private broadcasting companies have their offices and transmission
stations in or around Colombo. As with most metro areas, radio bands
are highly utilised for radio communications. Some of the prominent
radio stations broadcasting in the
Colombo area are Sirasa FM, FM
Derana, Hiru FM, Shakthi FM, Vettri FM, Sooriyan FM, Kiss FM, Lite FM,
Yes FM, Gold FM, Sith FM, Y FM and many more.
Television networks operating in the
Colombo metro area include the
state-owned television broadcasting networks which are broadcast from
the Rupavahini Corporation of Sri Lanka, broadcasting television in
the official languages Sinhala and Tamil. English language television
is also broadcast, more targeted to the demographics of the English
speaking Sri Lankans, expatriate communities and tourists. There are
as well several private operators. Many of the privately run
television stations networks were often based upon operational
expansions of pre-existing commercial radio networks and broadcast
See also: Television in Sri Lanka
Twin towns and sister cities
State / Region
Northwestern Federal District
Colombo's colonial heritage is visible throughout the city, as in the
historical Wolvendaal Church, established by the Dutch in 1749
Nelum Pokuna Theatre
Nelum Pokuna Theatre at night
British era Legislative Council Building,
Colombo fort. Today it
houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Town Hall of Colombo
Town Hall of Colombo at night, it is the headquarters of the
Colombo Municipal Council
Colombo Municipal Council and the office of the Mayor of Colombo
The Edwardian style old General Post Office
A Test match between
Sri Lanka and England at the SSC Ground, Colombo,
St. Lucia's Cathedral, the seat of the
Archbishop of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo
Beira Lake and southern side of the Gangaramaya Temple
Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is one of the oldest Mosques in Colombo
Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour is the seat of the Anglican
Bishop of Colombo
The statue of
Charles Henry de Soysa
Charles Henry de Soysa at De Soysa-Liptons Circus,
is the first of a native, in Colombo.
The Viharamahadevi Park, (formerly Victoria Park) is the oldest and
largest park of Colombo
Built in 1857, the
Old Colombo Lighthouse
Old Colombo Lighthouse also known as the Colombo
Fort Clock Tower is the oldest clock-tower
BMICH Conference Hall, is the largest such venue
Colombo Town Guard
Colombo Town Hall
List of East Asian ports
List of Mayors of Colombo
List of tallest buildings and structures in Sri Lanka
National War Memorial, Colombo
Place names in Sri Lanka
South Asian capitals
Yachting Association of Sri Lanka
Notes and references
^ "Britannica World Data". 1 March 2014. Encyclopedia Britannica 2014,
pp726. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
^ a b "A6 : Population by ethnicity and district according to
Divisional Secretary's Division, 2012". Census of Population &
Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka.
Colombo is the Commercial Capital". Official
Sri Lanka government
website. Archived from the original on 2014-12-20. Retrieved
^ Kumarage A, Amal. "Impacts of Transportation Infrastructure and
Services on Urban Poverty and Land Development in Colombo, Sri Lanka"
(PDF). 1 November 2007. Global Urban Development Volume 3 Issue 1.
Retrieved 8 March 2015.
^ "The 10 Traits of Globally Fluent Metro Areas" (PDF). 2013.
Brookings Institution. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April
2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
^ "Colombo: The Heartbeat of Sri Lanka/ Metro
Development Project". 21 March 2013. The World Bank. Retrieved 17
^ "Turning Sri Lanka's Urban Vision into Policy and Action" (PDF).
2012. UN Habitat, Chapter 1, Page 7. Archived from the original (PDF)
on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
^ Jayewarden+-e, Mr. "How
Colombo Derived its Name". Retrieved
^ a b c d "History of Colombo". Archived from the original on
2011-12-02. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
^ a b World Executive
Colombo Hotels and City Guide
Colombo – then and now". Padma Edirisinghe. The Sunday Observer.
14 February 2004. Archived from the original on 30 September
^ Indrapala 2007, p. 70
^ Gair 1998, p. 5
^ John, Still (1996). Index to the Mahawansa:Together with
Chronological Table of Wars and Genealogical Trees. AES. p. 85.
^ Prof. Manawadu, Samitha. "Cultural Routes Of
Sri Lanka As Extensions
Of International Itineraries : Identification Of Their Impacts On
Tangible & Intangible Heritage pp 3" (PDF). Retrieved
^ a b c d "European Encroachment and Dominance:The Portuguese". Sri
Lanka: A Country Study. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ Ross,, Russell R.; Savada, Andrea Matles (1990-08-14). Sri Lanka: A
Country Study. Defence Dept., Army. pp. 360p.
^ a b "European Encroachment and Dominance:The Dutch". Sri Lanka: A
Country study. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ a b Ross,, Russell R.; Savada, Andrea Matles (1990-08-14). Sri
Lanka: A Country Study. Defense Dept., Army. pp. 360p.
^ "European Encroachment and Dominance:The British Replace the Dutch".
Sri Lanka: A Country study. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ a b c Adrian, Wijemanne (March 1, 1996). War and Peace in
Post-Colonial Ceylon 1948–1991. Orient Longman. pp. 111p.
^ "Administrative Districts of the
Colombo Municipal Council". Colombo
Municipal Council. Archived from the original on 6 January 2013.
Retrieved 11 February 2013. [better source needed]
^ GoAbroad.com, Embassies located in Sri Lanka
^ a b The lake in the middle of Colombo, Lanka Library
^ 35th boat race and 31st Regatta: Oarsmen of Royal and S. Thomas'
clash on Beira waters, Daily News, October 10, 2003
Colombo weather". Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ a b "World Weather Information Service – Colombo". World
Meteorological Organization. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
^ "COLOMBO Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
^ "Klimatafel von
Colombo (Kolamba) /
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)" (PDF).
Baseline climate means (1961–1990) from stations all over the world
(in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved November 19,
^ "Gangaramaya Temple". John Keells Hotels Group. Archived from the
original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
^ a b "Department of Census and Statistics". Archived from the
original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved November 22, 2016. ,
Additional source "The case of Colombo, Sri Lanka" (PDF). Archived
from the original on December 26, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
The totals are calculated through enumerations made from Colombo
Divisional Secretariat and the Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretariat,
which is also part of
Colombo Municipal Council. CS1 maint: BOT:
original-url status unknown (link)
Port of Colombo. World
Port Source. Retrieved on 2011-10-17.
Colombo UNP list rejected, BBC News, February 16, 2006
^ Independent group wins CMC, BBC News, May 21, 2006
^ Rotational mayors as
Colombo gets trishaw driver as her 1st citizen,
Sunday Times, May 28, 2006
^ "The Supreme Court Of Sri Lanka". Justice Ministry. Archived from
the original on November 18, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
^ "Ministries of
Sri Lanka Government". Government of Sri Lanka.
Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved November 22,
^ a b "
Colombo Economy". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
^ "Press release 20010712" (PDF). CBSL. 10 July 2011.
^ "Executive Summary The
Colombo Metropolitan (CM) area" (PDF).
Ministry of Defence & Urban Development. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
^ "World Airline Directory." Also ranked of the best land in the world
of WWNEconomy Flight International. 14–20 March 1990 "Airlift
^ Organizational Structure, Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka
^ The drama behind the arrest of Sepala Eknayake, by Edward
Gunawardena Retd. Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Island.lk. Retrieved on 2011-10-17.
^ "Travel Warning, United States Department of State". Archived from
the original on September 22, 2006. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
^ [better source needed] Jane's Sentinel examines the
success of the
LTTE in resisting the Sri Lankan forces Archived April
15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.[better source needed]
^ President orders SB`s release Archived October 22, 2007, at the
Wayback Machine., LankaNewspapers.com, February 16, 2006
^ "Colombo". lanka-houses.com. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
^ "A Speedy and safe journey to Galle". Dailynews.lk. 2011-08-16.
^ Gamini Gunaratna,
Sri Lanka News Paper by LankaPage.com (LLC)-
Latest Hot News from
Sri Lanka (2011-11-07). "Nearly half of the work
completed on outer circular highway around Sri Lankan capital".
Colombopage.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
Colombo ferry sets sail – Times Of India.
Timesofindia.indiatimes.com (2011-06-14). Retrieved on 2011-10-17.
^ "Princess Alexandra's Visit". Archived from the original on April
13, 2007. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
^ "Historical Overview of Education in Sri Lanka, The British Period:
(1796–1948)". Archived from the original on April 11, 2011.
Retrieved November 22, 2016.
^ a b Harsha, Aturupane; Paul Glewwe; Wisniewski Suzanne (July 2007).
"The Impact of School Quality, Socio-Economic Factors and Child Health
on Students' Academic Performance: Evidence from Sri Lankan Primary
Schools" (PDF). Colombo: World Bank. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
^ Harsha, Aturupane; Paul Glewwe; Wisniewski Suzanne (February 2005).
Treasures of the Education System in Sri Lanka: Restoring Performance,
Expanding Opportunities and Enhancing Prospects (PDF). World Bank
Report. Colombo: World Bank. ISBN 978-955-8908-14-3. Retrieved
^ a b "History of the University of Colombo". Archived from the
original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
^ a b c d
Colombo Fort. Kermeey.blogspot.com (2006-02-19). Retrieved
^ a b c d "Tintagel, Colombo". Reddottours.com. 2010-01-07. Retrieved
^ Dutch Colonial Remains. Colonialvoyage.com. Retrieved on 2011-10-17.
^ a b Venerable Mahinda. "Significance of Vesak". www.buddhanet.net.
^ "Nelum Pokuna". Daily Mirror. 2011-12-15. Retrieved
^ Prins, Stephen. "A National Treasure". Retrieved
2010-05-17. [better source needed]
History of Colombo
History of Colombo National Museum". Retrieved 2007-02-02.
History of Colombo
History of Colombo National Museum". Retrieved November 22,
2016. [permanent dead link]
^ Ceylon, the Land of Eternal Charm, Ali Foad Toulba (Asian
Educational Services) p.237 ISBN 9788120614949
Find more aboutColomboat's sister projects
Definitions from Wiktionary
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Learning resources from Wikiversity
The following books contain major components on Colombo:
Changing Face of
Colombo (1501–1972): Covering the Portuguese, Dutch
and British Periods, by R.L. Brohier, 1984 (Lake House, Colombo)
Port of Colombo
Port of Colombo 1860–1939, K. Dharmasena, 1980 (Lake House,
Decolonizing Ceylon: Colonialism, Nationalism, and the Politics of
Space in Sri Lanka, by Nihal Perera, 1999 (Oxford University Press)
History of Colombo
Colombo Municipal Council
Colombo Town Hall
Mayor of Colombo
Galle Face Hotel
Colombo Dutch Hospital
Parks and Gardens
Galle Face Green
National Museum of Colombo
Nelum Pokuna Performing Arts Theatre
Colombo Dutch Museum
Colombo Golf Club
Colombo Sports Clubs
University of Colombo
Royal College Colombo
Ceylon Medical College
Sri Lanka Law College
List of schools in Colombo
Suburbs of Colombo
Main Article: Colombo
Provincial capitals of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan cities with a 50,000+ population
500,000 and more
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Metropolitan cities of Sri Lanka
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (Administrative)
Note: * also a Provincial capital, # also a Municipal council