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Colombo Capital and chief seaport of Sri Lanka, on the sw coast. Settled in the 6th century bc, it was taken by Portugal in the 16th century and later by the Dutch. It was captured by the British in 1796, and gained its independence in 1948. Colombo has one of the world's largest artificial harbours. Sites include a town hall and the Aqua de Lupo Church. Apart from shipping, the city has light industries. Pop. (2001) 642,020.