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For the American televison series see Columbo.
Towers of downtown Colombo
Towers of downtown Colombo

Colombo (derived from Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "harbour with mango trees", altered by the Portuguese to honour Christopher Columbus), population 377,396 (Colombo metropolitan area: 2,234,289) (2001), is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. (The new administrative capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte.) Colombo is located at 6°54' North, 79°50' East (6.90, 79.8333).

A vast majority of Sri Lankan corporations have their head offices located in Colombo. Some of the industries include chemicals, textiles, glass, cement, leather goods, furniture, and jewelry. An oil refinery is located near the city.

Colombo was known to Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders more than 2,000 years ago. Muslims settled there in the 8th century and controlled much of the trade between Sinhalese kingdoms and the outside world. The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century and built a fort to protect their spice trade. The Dutch captured the city in the 17th century. The British made the city the capital of their crown colony of Ceylon in 1802.

The University of Colombo, several colleges, an observatory, a national museum, and numerous churches, mosques, and Buddhist and Hindu temples are in Colombo; on the outskirts are two Buddhist universities. The city has some of the best modern infrastructure in South Asia including the biggest port of the subcontinent.

The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, formerly known as Radio Ceylon, is situated in Colombo. The SLBC is the oldest radio station in South Asia.

See also

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