Slave Island is part of the Colombo city and located directly south of the Fort area of Colombo. The name Slave Island was given during the period of British occupation and administration, and refers to the slaves who were housed there during the Dutch colonial period, Most of the slaves were brought from Africa and many returned to Africa. However, a very small group of African descendants are scattered throughout Sri Lanka and are collectively known as Sri Lankan Kaffirs. The suburb contains Beira Lake, a large lake and its esplanade is visited by many for recreation. Slave Island is mostly a commercial area with offices and shopping centres. Presently a gigantic construction is happening opposite the Beira lake which will hold a massive shopping, recreation and apartment complex known as the Colombo City Center. This will make this area a hive of activity.
Slave Island is so named because the Dutch used to house their slaves there duing their colonial period. Curiously, Slave Island has and island of its own. World-renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa designed the Sima Malaka meditation island in conjunction with the Gangaramaya Temple just across the road. It sits on the Beria Lake and is the perfect retreat for those looking to escape the city among the serene Thai Buddha statues. Its mother-temple was built in the 19th century and features a small museum, beautiful stone carvings and Buddhist paintings.