port and city, Sri Lanka, situated on a large harbour on the island's southern coast. Galle dates from the 13th century, possibly much earlier, but it became the island's chief port during the period of Portuguese rule (1507-c. 1640). Under Dutch rule it was the island capital until 1656, when Colombo replaced it. The rise of Colombo's port in the second half of the 19th century led to Galle's decline, but congestion at Colombo has caused some shipping to be diverted to Galle. The city, 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Colombo, has good road and rail connections; a cement factory is in operation there. The historic section of the city, containing a fort and other colonial-era buildings, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. In December 2004 most of Galle was destroyed or heavily damaged by a large tsunami that had been triggered by a strong earthquake in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia. Pop. (2001 est.) 90,934.
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