Culture & History of Colombo

Located on the west coast of the beautiful Island Sri Lanka, Colombo is the lively commercial hub of the country. The city occupies a superb position on the East-West sea trade route, and therefore is home to the country’s largest and main port. Colombo’s port itself has a unique and remarkable history.

In 1815 Colombo became Sri Lanka’s capital city under the rule of the British Empire and it remained so until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Thereafter Colombo was regarded as the commercial centre since 1978, when the Kotte was established as the capital of Sri Lanka.

The name ‘Colombo’ was derived from the term ‘Kolon Thota’ which also meant port on the river Kelani.  Therefore it is quite evident that the city’s main highlight was the port. Many ancient civilisations considered Colombo a prime harbour due to its superb position in trade routes.    
Colombo is a city that has witnesses the many changes that took place during colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. With the invasion of the Portuguese in 1505, and later by the Dutch, this unique port city, which was developed on a delta, had evolved over time to accommodate the customs of the rulers. It was during this time that Colombo was the capital of the Maritime Provinces.  The final foreign invaders were the British who ruled the City from 1796.

With all these historical events taking place in Colombo, it was largely developed as a city following independence. However, the contributions made by the Portuguese, Dutch and British played a major role to what Colombo is today. The influences made by these nations are evident today in the food, clothes, lifestyle and even names used in this city.  Even though today this wonderful city is much more modern and chic, it still resembles the glorious past. The city’s buildings, parks and monuments are living proof for that amazing history.

In the past, Colombo was the area that covered the Fort and the Pettah Market. However, today Colombo is known to be city limits of the Municipal Council of Colombo.

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