Colombo, Or Colombo, A City Of Ceylon, the seat of government and principal seaport, on the W. coast; pop. in 1871, 100,238. It consists of an open and a fortified town. The latter stands on a rocky peninsula, jutting out into the sea, and having on the land side a lake, a moat, and drawbridges. The interior presents more of the appearance of a European town than any other place in India except Goa. The houses are built after a plain Dutch fashion, and many of the streets are shaded by trees. It is the residence of the civil and military authorities and most of the European families of Ceylon. The climate is humid but salubrious. The temperature in winter is about 79-1°; in summer, 80-9°. East of this portion of Colombo lies the open town, which is inhabited by a mixed population of Dutch and Portuguese descent. The suburbs are peopled by native Cingalese. The principal edifices are the government house, court house, English, Dutch, and Portuguese churches, chapels, barracks, a military hospital, and a lighthouse. There are various museums, schools, hotels, and libraries. The harbor, which is small, is defended by several forts. The roadstead is safe only during the S. E. monsoon. Colombo is the entrepot for most of the foreign trade of Ceylon, and has a number of commercial houses.
It is the seat of an Anglican bishop, and of a Roman Catholic vicar apostolic. The town was occupied by the Portuguese in 1517, taken by the Dutch in 1603, and by the English in 1796. The Na-tande canal, from Colombo to Putlam, was opened Sept. 23, 1856, and the opening of the first railway in Ceylon was celebrated with great pomp at Colombo in 1858. In 1872 the streets were lighted with gas.
Cathedral of Colombo.