Colombo is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins and a city population of 647,100. The Colombo Metropolitan Region, defined by the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara, has an estimated population of 5,648,000, and covers an area of 3,694.20 km².. As per the Provincial Gross Domestic Product-2010, The Western Province, which includes the cities of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara recorded GDP per capita of USD 3,808, the highest recorded GDP per capita for any region in South Asia. It was formerly the political capital of Sri Lanka, before Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte.
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. However it was only 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. The main city is home to a majority of Sri Lanka's corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Famous landmarks in Colombo include the Galle Face Green, the Viharamahadevi Park as well as the National Museum.
The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river Kelani". It has also been suggested that the name may be derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbour with leafy mango trees". However, it is also possible that the Portuguese named the city after Christopher Columbus, the Italian sailor who lived in Portugal for many years before discovering the Americas on behalf of the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. His Portuguese name is Cristóvão Colombo. Colombo set sail westwards to look for India around the same time Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama set sail eastwards, landing at the Port of Calicut in India on 20 May 1498. Colombus landed in the Americas six years before that on 12 October 1492 and was already a famed sailor and explorer, celebrated both in Portugal and Spain by the time Dom Lourenço de Almeida accidentally landed in the port of Galle in 1505.
As Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Romans, Arabs, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago. Traveller Ibn Batuta who visited the island in the 14th century, referred to it as Kalanpu.Arab Muslims whose prime interests were trade, began to settle in Colombo around the 8th century AD mostly because the port helped their business and controlled much of the trade between the Sinhalese kingdoms and the outside world. Their descendants now comprise the local Sri Lankan Moor community.
The Portuguese EraColombo's colonial heritage is visible throughout the city, as in the historical Wolvendaal church, established by the Dutch in 1749
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) enabling them to trade in the islands' 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 coast line in exchange for the promise of guarding the coast against invaders. They were also allowed to establish a trading post in Colombo. Within a short time, however, they then expelled the Muslim inhabitants of Colombo and began to build a fort there 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 in order 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. However, following the fall of the Kingdom in 1593, the Portuguese were able to establish complete control over the entire 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 area immediately outside Fort is known as Pettah and is a commercial hub. The Dutch Era
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 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.q. 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 British era
The old Legislative Council Building, Colombo fort. Today houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,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 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.
Post Independence,The formal ceremony marking the start of self rule at Independence Square.
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 in their glory 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.
Historically, 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.
Although 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.
Geography and climate,The Beira Lake: the Seema Malakaya temple and the Gallery Island can be seen in the lake
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 (modara in Sinhala) which means river delta.
Colombo features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification. Colombo's climate is fairly temperate all throughout the year. From March to April the temperature averages around 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) maximum.The only major change in the Colombo weather 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 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall in the city averages around 2,400 millimetres (94 in) a year.
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, Moors and Tamils. There are also small communities of people with Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Malay and Indian origins living in the city, as well as numerous European expatriates. 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.
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 (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 providers.
“ Colombo being a model city in Asia, a caring organization looking after interests of citizens and users with an efficient quality service for creation of safe, healthy and wealthy life.
“Organization achieving excellence in providing citizen centred services to the public / customer, optimizing the use of available resources through a competent, motivated and dedicated team.
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 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 complex in 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 (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 headquarters.