Colombo has most of the amneties that a modern city has. The majority of the major shopping malls in Sri Lanka are located in the city, of which all are wi-fi enabled. In recent times there's been an outpour of high rise condominiums in the city, mainly due to the very high land prices.
The Jami Ul Alfar mosque, Pettah is one of the most visited landmarks in Colombo
The Murugan Hindu temple in slave island area
The two World Trade Center towers use to be the most recognized landmarks of the city. Before these towers were completed in 1997, the adjacent Bank of Ceylon tower was the tallest structure and the most prominent landmark of the city. Before the skyscrapers were built it was the Old Parliament Building that stood majestically in the Fort district with the Old Colombo Lighthouse situated close to it. Another important landmark of the city is the Independence Hall at Independence Square in Cinnamon gardens.
Even before the parliament was built some claim that the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque was recognized as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port. The mosque is still one of the most visited tourist sites in Colombo.
The Fort district also has the famous Cargills & Millers complex that is protected by a special government law from demolition. This is done mainly to preserve the historic beauty of the Fort area.
The Galle Face Green is the city's largest and most elegant promenade. Lined with palm trees and adjacent to the coast, this mile-long stretch in the heart of the city is a constant beehive of activity. The green is especially busy on Fridays and Saturdays. In the evenings it plays host to families and children playing sports and flying kites, lovers embracing under umbrellas and health enthusiasts taking their daily evening walks. There are numerous small food stalls and a small stretch of beach to get wet. The green was recently given a make over and since then has been even more popular with the local community. The Green also frequently hosts numerous international and local concerts and performances, such as the recently concluded World Drum Festival.
Cannons that were once mounted on the rampart of the old fort of Colombo laid out for observance and prestige at the Green, giving a colonial touch to the city. The famous colonial styled Galle Face Hotel, known as Asia's Emerald on the Green since 1864, is also adjacent to Galle Face Green. The Hotel has played host to distinguished guests including the British Royal Family and other Royal Guests and Celebrities. Apparently after having stayed at the hotel, Princess Alexandra of Denmark had commented that "the peacefulness and generosity encountered at the Galle Face Hotel cannot be matched". Around the corner from Galle Face are prominent coffee bars, chic bars and boutiques.
Colombo street in the early 20th century with a tramcar
Main Street in the Fort with the Ghaffoor Building in the background
Colombo has an extensive public transport system based on buses. The bus service is operated both by private and government own Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB). Train transport within the city is limited since most trains are meant for transport to and from the city rather than within the city and are often overcrowded. However the Central Bus Stand and Fort Railway Station functions as the islands primary hub for bus and rail transport respectively. Up until the 1970s the city had a trams service, which was discontinued. Other means of transport includes auto rickshaws (commonly called "three wheelers" in Sri Lanka) and taxicabs. Three wheelers are entirely operated by individuals and hardly regulated whilst cab services are run by private companies and are metered.
Construction of the Colombo Metro Rail, a Mass Rapid Transit railway system, similar to that of other advanced Asian cities has begun, this is to control the excessive traffic in the city. The project is carried out by NEB Rapid Infrastructure Projects Pvt.Ltd. an Indian and Singaporean collaboration. 
Bandaranaike International Airport serves the city for all International flights while the Ratmalana Airport serves all local flights.
* A1 highway connects Colombo with Kandy.
* A2 highway connects Colombo with Galle.
* Main Line – Colombo to Badulla.
* Southern Line – Colombo to Matara
* Northern Line – Colombo to Kankesanturai deviates from the Main Line at Polgahawela junction - presently operating only up to Vavuniya
* Puttalam Line – Colombo to Puttalam
* Kelani Valley Line (Narrow Gauge) - Colombo to Yatiyantota - presently operating only upto Avissawella
* Mannar Line (Earlier Indo-Lanka Line) Colombo To Talaimannar - Divides from Nothern Line at Medawachchiya junction - Not operational
The Port of Columbo handled 3.75 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2008, 10.6% up on 2007 (which itself was 9.7% up on 2006), bucking the global economic trend. Of those, 817,000 were local shipments with the rest transhipments. The port is close to its capacity for container handling. An expansion project, the South Harbour project, will increase the port's capacity. (Containerisation International, p.26, January 8 2009)
Education institutions in Colombo has a long history. Colombo has many of the prominent public schools in the country some of them government owned and others are private. Most of the prominent schools in the city date back to the 1800s when they were established during the British colonial rule, such as the Royal College Colombo (1835). Certain urban schools of Sri Lanka have some religious alignment, this is partly due to the influence of British who established Christian missionary schools, these include the Anglican, Bishop's College(1875); the Buddhist, Ananda College (1886); the Muslim, Zahira College (1892); the Catholic, St. Joseph's College (1896). This religious alignment does not effect the curriculum of the school except for the demography of the student population.
Higher education in the city has a long history, it begins with the establishment of the Colombo Medical College (1870), the Colombo Law College (1875), School of Agriculture (1884) and the Government Technical College (1893). The first step in the creation of a University in the island was taken in 1913 with the established of the University College Ceylon in 1921 which prepare students for the external examinations of the University of London, this was followed by the formation of the University of Ceylon, which had a campus in Colombo. Today the University of Colombo and the University of the Visual & Performing Arts are state universities in the city. The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology also has a metropolitan campus in the center of the city. There are several private higher education institutions within the city.
See also: Education in Sri Lanka
Colombo has wildly varying architecture that span centuries and depict various styles. Many colonial buildings influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British exist alongside structures built in Buddhist, Hindu , Islamic, Indian and Contemporary architectural styles. No other place is this more evident in the heart of the city the Fort area. Here one may find new towering skyscrapers as well as historic buildings dating far back as the 1700s.
 Colombo Fort
The Portuguese were the first colonist to settle in Colombo, establishing a small trading post they had laid the foundations for a small fort which in time became the largest colonial fort in the island. The Dutch expanded the fort thus creating a well old fortified harbour. This came in to the possession of the British in the late 1700s and by the late 19th century the seeing no threat to the Colombo harbor, began demolishing the ramparts to make way for the development of the city. Although now there is nothing left of the fortifications the area which was once the fort is still refereed to as Fort and the area out side the fort; Pettah or pita-koutuwa in Sinhalese which means outer fort.
 Dutch era buildings
There are none of the buildings of the Portuguese era and only a few from the Dutch times. These include the oldest building in the fort area, the Dutch Hospital; the Dutch House which is now the Colombo Dutch Museum and several churches. The President's House (formal the Queen's House) add original been the Dutch governors house and successive British Governors made it their office and residence, however it has under gone much change since the Dutch period. Adjoining the President's House is the Gordon Gardens, now off-limits to the public.
 British era buildings
The Sirimathipaya Mansion of Sir Ernest de Silva which is now the Prime Minister's Office is an example of architecture of the British era.
Much of the old buildings of the fort area and in other parts of the city date back to the British times, these include governmental, commercial buildings and private houses. Some of the notable government building of British colonial architecture includes; the old Parliament building which is now the Presidential Secretariat, the Republic Building which houses the Ministry of Foreign affairs, but once housed the Ceylon Legislative council, the Treasury building, the old General Post Office an Edwardian style building opposite the President's House, the Prime Minister's Office, the Mathematics department of the University of Colombo (formally the Royal College, Colombo). Notable commercial buildings of the British era include, the Galle Face Hotel, Cargills & Millers complex, Grand Oriental Hotel. Several old clubs of the city gives a glimpse of the British equestrian life style, these include the Orient Club, the 80's Club, the Colombo Cricket Club.
 Annual cultural events and fairs
Vesak Lanterns, a type of pooja (offering) known as Aloka pooja (offering of light). Followed by the buddhists
The Neoclassical style Colombo National Museum
Colombo's most beautiful festival is the celebration of Lord Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Death all falling on the same day. In Sinhala this is known as Vesak.  During this festival, much of the city is decorated with lanterns, lights and special displays of light(known as Thoran). The festival falls in mid May and lasts a week when many Sri Lankans visit the city to see the lantern competitions and decorations. During this week people distribute, rice, drinks and various other food items for free in places what is known as Dunsal which means charity place. These Dunsals are popular amongst visitors from the suburbs.
Christmas is another major festival in the city. Although Sri Lanka's Christians make up only just over 7% of the population, Christmas is one of the island's biggest festivals. Most streets and commercial buildings light up from the beginning of December and festive sales begin at all shopping centres and department stores. Caroling and nativity plays are also frequent sights during the season.
 Performing arts
Colombo has several performing arts centers which are popular for their musical and theatrical performances. The most famous performing arts centers are the Lionel Wendt Theater, the Elphinstone and the Tower Hall, all of which have a very rich history and made for western style productions. The Navarangahala also found in the city is the country's first national theatre designed and build for Asiatic and local style musical and theatrical productions.
 Museums and art collections
The National Museum of Colombo, was established on 1 January 1877 during the tenure of the British Colonial Governor Sir William Henry Gregory is situated in cinnamon gardens area. Next to it is the Natural History Museum. The museum houses the crown jewels and throne of the last king of the Kingdom of Kandy, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. There is also the Colombo Dutch Museum detailing the Dutch colonial history of the country. Colombo does not boast a very big art gallery. There is only a small collection of Sri Lankan masterpieces at the Art Gallery in Green Path.
A Test match between Sri Lanka and England at the SCC Ground, Colombo, March 2001.
Undoubtedly the most popular sport in Sri Lanka is cricket. The country emerged as champions of the 1996 Cricket World Cup and became runners up in 2007. The sport is played in parks, playgrounds, beaches and even in the streets of the city. Colombo is also the home for two of the country's international cricket stadiums, Sinhalese Sports Club's cricket stadium and R. Premadasa Stadium (named after late president Premadasa). Rugby is also a popular sport at the club and school level. Colombo has the distinction of being the only city in the world to have 4 cricket Test venues in the past: P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo Cricket Club Ground and Ranasinghe Premadasa Stadium. The Sugathadasa Stadium situated in the city, is an international standard stadium for athletics, swimming and football, also held the South Asian Games in 1991 and 2006.
The city of Colombo also has its own local football team Colombo FC and the sport is being developed as a part of the FIFA Goal program.
Almost all major media businesses in Sri Lanka operate from Colombo. The state media has its offices in Bullers Road and carry out regional transmission from there, this includes the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), formerly known as Radio Ceylon and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. The SLBC is the oldest radio station in South Asia. Many of the private broadcasting companies have their offices and transmission stations in or around Colombo.
The city is a popular fashion center in South East Asia today. The industry has evolved to meet modern standards and conducts regular shows to showcase local talent.
 Sister cities
Friday, January 16, 2009