Due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean on the East-West sea trade routes used by Roman, Arab, Persians and Chinese merchant vessels over 2,000 years ago, Sri Lanka has always been a part of the world’s history. There is a maritime museum close to the Colombo harbour which have artifacts to prove that Colombo has been a vibrant trading seaport which existed over 2000 years ago, much before the civilizations of America and Europe. This small seaport with a natural harbor was introduced as "Colombo" by the Portuguese in 1505 and is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river Kelani". It has also been suggested that the name may be derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbor with leafy mango trees".
It became the capital of Sri Lanka when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815 and witnessed the rule of three rulers- Portuguese, Dutch and British. However, the position of acting as the capital was retained after Sri Lanka gained independence on the 04th of February 1948. Colombo came to be regarded as the country's commercial hub in 1978 when the administrative office was shifted to Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.