Colombo is the commercial centre of Sri Lanka. In the 16th Century when the Portuguese arrived, Colombo was a small trading post. They immediately realized the important strategic value of Colombo in order to dominate the coastal region. Protected by an impressive fortress they developed the harbour and the town. From those fortifications nothing much is left. The Dutch connected the lakes and lagoons around Colombo with canals like in Holland and laid out many more spice gardens, as they were very keen to increase the lucrative spice trade. Under the British rule the harbour was considerably enlarged and Colombo gained more and more in importance. After the opening of the Suez Canal the city became an important transit point in the British Empire
Modern Colombo is the place where Sri Lanka’s hustle and bustle takes place. Although it is the biggest city in Sri Lanka, this is the place where the commercial heart beats. In the northern part of the city is the fort area, where you can find the British fort, dating from the 19th century, and other remnants of the former colonial powers.