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town, southern Tamil Nadu state, southern India. The town lies on the Gulf of Mannar, east of Tirunelveli, to which it is connected by road and rail. It developed from a small fishing village into a flourishing Portuguese colony in the 16th century and further expanded during Dutch and British occupancies; the port later declined with the growth of Madras. From the late 1960s the harbour was deepened, warehouse and fishing facilities were improved, and industry was expanded. Most of the town's shipping is handled, nonetheless, at New Tuticorin, about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the original port. One of the major ports of India, it can receive vessels with drafts of up to 27 feet (8.24 m). It handles a large volume of coal traffic, as well as trade with Sri Lanka. Tuticorin has several colleges affiliated with Madurai-Kamaraj University. Pop. (1981) town, 192,949; metropolitan area, 250,677; (1991) town, 199,854; metropolitan area, 280,091.