Colombo, Sri Lanka, the capital of the country and its chief commercial city and seaport. It is on the southwestern coast of the island, near the mouth of the Kelani River. Coconuts, rice, betel nuts, and rubber grow in the area around the city. Food processing, cigar making, and gem cutting are the principal businesses. The city has many churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples. The University of Sri Lanka is here.
Colombo was founded about 540 B.C. and called Kalan-totta. Portuguese settlers gave it its present name in 1517. The Dutch took possession in 1656; the British in 1796. It became the national capital upon independence in 1948.