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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for Ports of Sri Lanka – Maritime trade hub
Joanna James Joanna James
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Ports of Sri Lanka – Maritime trade hub

Sri Lanka is strategically located at the centre of the Indian Ocean, giving the island nation strategic importance in international maritime trade. Here is a list of the country’s main ports.


Port of Colombo

Better known as the Colombo harbour, Port of Colombo is the busiest maritime trading and shipping hub in Sri Lanka. The port’s location in the Asian continent makes it an important hub for trade. Container terminals such as the South Asia Gateway Terminals use the port around the clock, daily. Located at the mouth of the Kelani River, Colombo Port ranks among the best 35 ports in the globe. It is capacitated to handle approximately 30 tonnes of cargo yearly. The harbour’s dredged depth is well over 15 meters, yet the optimal draft is approximately 10 meters for general cargo vessels. While Port authorities have set in motion a lot of new developments, even the current terminal facilities are well-equipped with modern cargo handling tools. Colombo Port is the naval base for the Western Fleet of Sri Lanka Navy. As any strategically important port, Colombo Port operates around the clock all seven days of the week. The port is also historically important as it had been in operation for over 2000 years.


The Port of Magampura

Better known as Hambantota Port is a recent addition to Sri Lanka. It officially opened for business on 18th November 2010. However, the location was a point of interest to navigators even in ancient times. Ancient Greek navigators had some knowledge of this particular location as a safe anchorage point for seafarers and explorers. Based on this information, Ptolemy called it Dionysil in his map of Taprobane. The approach channel of the port is 210 meters wide and 17 meters deep. There are two lighthouses standing guard at the port to guide sea vessels safely into the port. At the moment, the Port of Magampura handles bulk cargo. It also facilitates various other port-related activities. The port is located a few nautical miles away from the world’s most used shipping lane. Hence the Port of Magampura has the potential to serve as a key hub for major global sea trading routes.


Port of Trincomalee

Once the reason behind battles between Europeans, Port of Trincomalee is well-known for its scenic appeal. Admiral Lord Nelson, a British naval figure called Trincomalee the greatest harbour in the world. Portuguese Danish, Dutch, French and lastly British colonials held the port at various times in history, driven to do so by its strategic location in the Bay of Bengal., Steeped in legend and various stories of intrigue, the Port of Trincomalee now caters mainly to bulk cargo. It also handles various other port-related activities. The Eastern Command of Sri Lanka Navy is based at the Port of Trincomalee.
The port is the fifth-largest natural harbour in the world and it covers a water area of 2,000 hectares. Numerous picture-perfect bays and coves are scattered over the port’s coastline. Visitors flock to its silky beaches overlooking highlands.
The Port operates around the clock all 7 days of the week. But, at present, it only facilitates daylight navigation

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