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Hambantota (Sinhala: හම්බන්තොට, Tamil: அம்பாந்தோட்டை) (also known as Hámbangtotte in the 19th Century) is a coastal city in the south of Sri Lanka. It is the capital of the Hambantota District. An underdeveloped area that was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, it is currently undergoing a number of major development projects, including the construction of a new sea port, international airport and an international cricket stadium that will host games for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Hambantota is also a candidate city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

 

Etymology

When the Kingdom of Ruhuna was established it received many travellers and traders from the Far East, Siam, China and Indonesia and sought anchorage in the natural harbor at Godawaya, Ambalantota, in Hambantota. The ships or large boats these traders travelled in were called “Sampans” and their anchorage came to be known as “Sampantota” (which is now known as Godawaya). After some time the area became to be called “Hambantota”.[1]

[edit] History

Hambantota is famous for its salt flats and intensely hot arid zone climate. With sweeping sandy beaches on the side, it is a convenient base for exploring the nearby Bundala National Park, Yala National Park and the temples at Kataragama. Most inhabitants of Hambantota are Sinhalese and Malays.

[edit] Modern history

Around the years of 1801 and 1803, the British built a Martello tower on the tip of the rocky headland alongside the lighthouse overlooking the sea at Hambantota. The builder was a Captain Goper, who built the tower on the site of an earlier Dutch earthen fort. The tower was restored in 1999, and in the past, formed part of an office of the Hambantota Kachcheri where the Land Registry branch was housed. Today it houses a fisheries museum.

From 2 August to 9 September 1803, an Ensign J. Prendergast of the regiment of Ceylon native infantry was in command of the British colony at Hambantota during a Kandian attack that he was able to repel with the assistance of the snow Minerva.[2] Earlier, HMS  Wilhelmina had touched there and left off eight men from the Royal Artillery to reinforce him.[3] This detachment participated in Prendergast's successful defense of the colony.[4] If the tower at Hambantota was at all involved in repelling any attack this would be one of the only cases in which a British Martello tower had been involved in combat.

[edit] Ancient Hambantota

Hambantota District is part of the traditional south known as Ruhuna. In ancient times this region, especially Hambantota and the neighboring areas was the centre of a flourishing civilization. Historical evidence reveals that the region in that era was blessed with fertile fields and a stupendous irrigation network. Hambantota was known by many names ‘Mahagama’ ‘Ruhuna’ and ‘Dolos dahas rata’

About 200BC, the first Kingdom of Sri Lanka was flourishing in the north central region of Anuradhapura.

After a personal dispute with his brother, King Devanampiyathissa of Anuradhapura, King Mahanaga established the kingdom of Ruhuna in the south of the island. This region played a vital role in building the nation as well as nurturing the Sri Lankan Buddhist culture.

[edit] 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

A badly damaged house after the Tsunami of 2004

Hambantota was badly devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which was reported to have killed a large proportion of the town's population.

[edit] Government and Politics

The idea to develop Hambantota into an international port has been in the air for over 30 years.

Hambantota is the electoral district of the current President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Hambantota District comprises Beliatta, Mulkirigala, Tangalle and Tissamaharama electoral wards.

Hambantota is also scheduled to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.[5]

[edit] Economy

Hambantota is currently undergoing a major infrastructural development phase with an international airport, international port, railway line and tele-cinema village was built, amongst other development.[6]

36,000 ships pass Hambantota every year[7] because it is only 6-10 nautical miles north of the major east-west global shipping route across the Indian Ocean.[8]

If Hambantota is developed into a world-class port, ships could anchor there to re-stock on food, water, fuel, etc. and save up to 3 days off their journey to Singapore.[3]

It is estimated that 20% of the ships would call at Hambantota Port. 50,000 jobs will be created.

[edit] Timeline

Phase 1 began Oct 2009 - completed by Nov 2010

  • $360m[9]

  • 1700 ha of land for industrial use

  • 600m long jetty - 17m deep basin

Phase 2 - completed by 2014

  • $600m expansion of the Port [4]

Phase 3

  • new dockyard

[edit] Manufacturing

A cement grinding and bagging factory is being setup, as well as fertiliser bagging plants.

[edit] Wind farm

The Hambantota Wind Farm is the only wind farm in Sri Lanka. Wind energy development faces immense obstacles such as poor roads and an unstable power grid.

[edit] Infrastructure

[edit] Port

Hambantota is the selected site for a new international port, the Port of Hambantota. It is scheduled to be built in three phases, with the first phase due to be completed by the end of 2010 at a cost of $360 million.[10] As part of the port, a $550 million tax-free port zone is being setup, with companies in India, China, Russia and Dubai expressing interest in setting up shipbuilding, ship-repair and warehousing facilities in the zone. It is expected to be completed by November 2010. When all three phases are fully complete it will be able to berth 33 vessels at any given time, which would make it the biggest port in South Asia.[11]

As Nuwan Peiris, a leading maritime scholar, exlpains that Hambantota Harbour is nothing but a reflection of the geoplitical conflict between India and China. As he exlpains in "Hambantota Harbour and an Exile’s Return – Geo-Political Dimensions of an Invasive Species" (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers24%5Cpaper2347.html) that;

"Chinese involvement in a harbour project (Hambantota) in the down-south of the island has given this battle a renewed intensity. This Article further examines the geopolitical background that led to this battle, and looks how “energy security” becomes the core for geopolitical change in the South Asian landscape."

  • Bunkering facility - 14 tanks (8 for oil, 3 for aviation fuel and 3 for LP Gas)

The Chinese government is providing financial assistance for the project.[12]

[edit] Transport

[edit] Airport

The Hambantota International Airport is an international airport currently under construction in the town of Matala.[13] After completion, it would be one of two international airports in Sri Lanka, after the Bandaranaike International Airport situated at Colombo. The airport is estimated to cost US $210 million and by the end of construction will cover 2,000 hectares in total.[14]

[edit] Roads

[edit] Railway

In support of the new harbour, construction work started in 2006 on the Matara-Kataragama Railway Line project, a broad gauge railway being implemented at an estimated cost of $91 million.[6]

[edit] Landmarks

[edit] Education

[edit] Culture

[edit] Sports

The Hambantota Cricket Stadium, with a capacity of 25,000 seats, is currently being built in this area. The cost of this project is an estimated Rs. 900 million (US$7.86m).[15] Hambantota has also been chosen as one of the venues hosting cricket matches during the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Hambantota is one of two cities (the other being Gold Coast, Australia) to make a formal bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.[16]

[edit] Entertainment

[edit] Tele-cinema Village

A new tele-cinema village is being constructed at Ranmihitenna. It consists of three stages and will be constructed at a cost of two billion rupees. The first stage, opened on 30 March 2010 at a cost of 600 million rupees consists of an administration building, accommodation hall (with facilities for 96 individuals), a large studio, 31 sets, three showrooms for costumes, two seminar halls, two libraries, kitchens, back lots, workshops and common facilities.

 

 

Source : Wikipedia

 

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