Matara is a city on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, 160 km from Colombo. It is one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka. The town contains many remnants of Sri Lanka?s colonial past and is divided by the island?s third longest river, the Nilwala Ganga ? ?Blue River? ? a beautiful, wide expanse of water that splits the old town from the new.
In 16th and 18th centuries Matara was ruled by Portuguese and Dutch respectively. The culture and architecture can be still seen in the area. The popular Light house in point Dondra was built by Dutch and it is considered as one of the most beautiful and oldest light houses in Sri Lanka.
The Southern Province of Sri Lanka is a small geographic area consisting of the districts of Galle, Matara and Hambantota. Subsistence farming and fishing is the main source of income for the vast majority of the people of this region.
Important landmarks of the Southern Province include the wildlife sanctuaries of the Yala and Udawalawe National Parks, the holy city of Kataragama, and the ancient cities of Tissamaharama, Kirinda and Galle. (Although Galle is an ancient city, almost nothing survives from before the Portuguese invasion.) During the Portuguese period there were two famous Sinhalese poets called Andare who was from Dickwella and Gajaman Nona who was from Denipitiya in Matara District, composing poems on common man.