The Financial Capital of Sri Lanka - Colombo

Explore The Financial Capital of Sri Lanka – Colombo with our Travel Blog Article

The Financial Capital of Sri Lanka

The Financial Capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the central commercial and trade hub of Sri Lanka and its largest city. Previously the official capital city of Sri Lanka, but it is still felt as such. Although it has lost its title it is the the center of the Sri Lankan economy. It is located on the western coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. Adding a calming influence to the hustle and bustle of work is a busy and vibrant evening life, colonial architectural aura and a sea of people.

The City

Urban Area

Colombo itself is not technically confined to its city limits, its neighboring suburbs are also commonly referred in the same breath. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Dehiwala Mount Lavinia, Kolonnawa, Kaduwela among them.

The ficancial capital of the nation, the main city is the center of Sri Lankan finance and trade. Almost all of the major offices from trade to diplomacy are found within its city limits. Recently beautified and diversified to cater to the growing demand of a expanding tourism sector, Colombo has developed in to a worthy city on its own. Famous landmarks in Colombo include Galle Face Green, Viharamahadevi Park, Beira Lake, Colombo Racecourse, Planetarium, University of Colombo, Mount Lavinia beach, Dehiwala Zoological Garden, Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Colombo Lotus Tower, National Museum, Independence Square, Pettah Market, Dutch Hospital Precinct, Gangaramaya Temple and Simamalakaya.


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 became the capital of the island when Sri Lanka 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.


Origin of the Name

The name ‘Colombo’, first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhala name කොලොන් තොට Kolon thota, meaning “port on the river Kelani”.

Another belief is that the name is derived from the Sinhala name කොල-අඹ-තොට Kola-amba-thota which means ’Harbour with leafy/green 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 only 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 Sinhala grammar, Sidatsangarava, written in the 13th century wrote about a category of words that exclusively belonged to early Sinhala. It lists naramba (to see) and kolamba (ford or harbour) as deriving from the indigenous Vedda language. Kolamba may also be the source of the name of the commercial capital Colombo.


The Importance as a port

As Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Indian, Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago

As Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Indian, Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago. Traveller 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 community.


The Portuguese

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 (1484–1518), 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 the importance of Sri Lanka to consolidate power in the indian ocean

The Portuguese soon realized that control of Sri Lanka was necessary for the 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 Kotte kingdom 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 Fort and houses the presidential palace and the majority of Colombo’s five star hotels.


The Dutch

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 captured 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 including Colombo which then served as the capital of the Dutch maritime provinces under the control of the Dutch East India Company until 1796.


The English

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 constituted the Colombo Municipal 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 80,000.

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.

Changes that resulted at the end of the colonial period were drastic


end of colonialism

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.

Things to do in Colombo
Sightseeing (Landmarks) in Colombo

Galle Face Green & British Colonial Architecture

Viharamahadevi Park

Colombo Racecourse & Arcade

Nelum Pokuna Theatre

Independence Square & Arcade

Bandaranaike Memorial International Convention Centre

Colombo Lotus Tower

National Meuseum

Gangaramaya Temple & Seema Malakaya 

Red Mosque 


Mount Lavinia Beach

Dehiwala Zoological Garden

Major Nightlife Hubs in Colombo

Dutch Hospital Precinct

Park Street Mews

Galle Face Green

Mount Lavinia Beach

Colombo 7

Shopping in Colombo

One Galle Face

Colombo City Center

Marino Mall

One Pick Mall

Liberty Plaza

Majestic City

Pettah Wholesale Market


Laksala Handicrafts

Explore The Finacial Capital of Sri Lanka with our Travel Blog Article

Theaters in Colombo

Liberty Cinema at Colombo 3

Majestic Cinema at Majestic City Mall, Colombo 4

One Galle Face Mall

Colombo City Center Mall

Savoy Theater at Wellawatta

Sources : Wikipedia

Explore The Financial Capital of Sri Lanka – Colombo with our Travel Blog Article

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