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About Hambantota
 
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Introduction

 

Deep in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka the District of Hambantota stretches into the dry zone of the land. Hambantota District boasts a prosperous past civilization and is endowed with many natural resources. These resources offer opportunities for valuable income generation for the District and for the overall development of the country.

Hambantota District is clearly a gateway to profitable investment, playing a crucial role in the development of the southern region of Sri Lanka and presenting exciting opportunities for the responsible, visionary investor.

 
 
History

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.

During the height of this vibrant period the travelers and traders from the Far East, Siam, China and Indonesia sought anchorage in the natural harbor at Hambantota. The vessels these traders traveled in were called “SAMPANS” and their anchorage came to be known as “ SAMPANTOTA” (now this particular anchorage is known as Godawaya). By and by the area came to be called “HAMBANTOTA”.

 
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Investment Opportunities
                                                   
 

Hambantota District is accessible by road, the regional airport in Weerawila and of course by sea. An oil refinery, international airport, and commercial harbor have been proposed for Hambantota. These huge new projects will lead to change and development of great magnitude, opening opportunities for many sectors. Today a few industrial zones are already operating in the district: Bata-ata, Mirijjawila, and Beliatta. With work on the projects just beginning, the opportunities are almost limitless, clearly providing a ‘ground floor’ opportunity for investment.

Although labeled today as less developed, it should not be forgotten that this region has rich resources and an abundant supply of labor. Basic infrastructures such as water and electrical power, telecommunication services, banking facilities and promotion of entrepreneurs by various support organizations help create an atmosphere conducive to business development.

There is immense potential here in the natural and human resources of the region which have yet to be fully utilized.

Sunshines and wind are the natural resources most plentiful throughout the south in general and in Hambantota in particular, Sunshine and wind have been identified as potential generators of renewable energy, especially in the coastal belt. These are areas the entrepreneurial investor could successfully participate in.

The region boasts of some of the country’s most skilled craftspeople in jewellery and handicrafts.  Even the high level of unemployed, educated youth could be seen as a resource to be tapped for the development of the region.

The pola (Bazaar) is a well patronized market place where farm families market their produce and fish vendors do brisk business.

There are a number of factors favorable to the expansion of the industrial sector of the District. Raw materials such as citronella oil, cinnamon, sugar cane, forest resources, minerals etc., will provide the foundation for future industries in the District.

Traditional skills of the people in gold, silver, brass work, pottery, foundry work and carpentry is another factor that will help industrial programmes in the future.

 
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Agriculture

The economy of Hambantota district is traditionally agriculture based.
                 
Cultivation : -
 
The development of the agricultural sector could be enhanced  and with a systematic approach, once again brought back to the level of greatness it enjoyed in the days of yore. In Hambantota District agriculture is the main form of economic activity and over 55% of the total population depend on agriculture in its various forms for a living.

Paddy milling is a major industry in the region. Citronella, cinnamon, pepper, and coffee are just some of the minor export crops being cultivated in the region.

Fruit such as mango, melon, papaya, citrus, wood apple, pineapple and banana grow well here alongside low country vegetables like beans, tomato, gourd, and pumpkin.

Coconut is the main commercial crop in the District. The by-products of coconut cultivation could become a lucrative business for those interested. Copra-mills, coconut oil, coir mills, distilleries, the possibilities are endless. Even coconut shells are used by craftspeople to turn out little curios, costume jewellery, ladles etc.
 
                 
 
Fisheries : -
 

Hambantota District is known for its picturesque seashore and scenic bays has busy fishery harbors, which are expanding and developing as support facilities for fishing activities. Therefore fishermen can earn relatively large sums of money during limited fishing seasons. The fishing industry engages many people in the District, due to the vast extent of its sea area and the large number of lagoons situated along the coast. As with crops cultivated in the District, there is the opportunity for divergence in the fishing industry too. Prawn farming, for example, offers big potential. Here there is ample opportunity for the enterprising investor to provide ancillary services to the industry such as canning plants, ice plants and boat yards.

In Hambantota District there is a tremendous scope for aquaculture, a sector that has yet to be seriously exploited.

                 
 
Animal Husbandry :
                     
 
Animal husbandry is another economic activity which is carried on very successfully in the District. Hambantota is reputed for buffalo milk and curd, which also contribute significantly to the regional economy. Livestock farming and animal husbandry in cattle, poultry and goats are potentially profitable investment avenues.
 
Industries
 
   
 
The mere mention of salterns is synonymous with Hambantota. At present the salt industry, which produces 30% of the total salt production of the country, is the major industrial activity in the District and also one of the oldest in the land.  Salt is a raw material for a number of secondary industrial products such as magnesia, potash, magnesium sulphate and gypsum which are utilized in other industries.
 
 
 
 
The production of animal feed has been identified as a potential industry.
 
 
 
 
The ice plants in the Hambantota District barely meet the demand of the area as well as cater to the needs of distant places such as Ampara, Pottuvil and Batticaloa.
 
 
 
 
The cotton industry is a very active sector in the District. There are over 3000 units in operation engaged in textile weaving, sewing, and tile and brick work.
 
Tourism
 
 
The potential for a vibrant tourism industry to develop in Hambantota District is very promising. Given all the activity planned for the region and all the development envisaged, possibilities for the hospitality trade are tremendous. There is wide variety of interesting sites and activities to cater to the interests of everyone. From the lovely beaches there is the potential for wind surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Parks and sanctuaries abound for wildlife enthusiasts, Kalamatiya lagoon which provides for a bird sanctuary located between Ranna and Ambalantota .

If Hambantota today is interesting, its past is certainly more tantalizing. There are ruins and places of religious interest filled with legends and so steeped in rich history that it is enough to make one marvel at the bygone era.

Hot springs are a geological phenomenon in this country and a few are situated within the District of Hambantota. Some are located in close proximity to the famous forest monastery at Madunagala. Among other places of interest, is ‘Hummanaya’ or the blow-hole which is another sight to behold.

In the Bundala Bird Sanctuary, flamingos are often seen during the north east monsoons. Elephants retreat to the Bundala salt pans during times of drought.

The Weerawila Sanctuary encompasses the Wirawila and Tissa Wewa (reservoir). Many aquatic species of birds and a great many jungle animals settle here.

The eastern limit of the south coast is marked by Ruhuna National Park best known simply as ‘Yala’. It’s well known for sightings of wild elephants and many other forms of wildlife. This is one of the best places in the world for viewing leopards in their natural habitat.

Offshore from Yala are two sets of rocky islets, the Lesser and Greater Basses, each marked by a lighthouse. The world famous author and Scientist Arthur C Clarke considers scuba diving along the Basses reefs to be the best in Sri Lanka.
The township of Kataragama lies just beyond the south-eastern border of Hambantota District.
Kataragama is a place of religious importance to the Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims alike. People from all religions come on pilgrimage to worship and make offerings to their deities.

The Hill country lies also in close proximity to Hambantota District. Nuwara Eliya is 167 km from Hambantota.

Hambantota no doubt is a dream for the outdoor type, the bays to swim and fish in, the lagoons for a relaxed evening of bird watching and the jungles to roam in.
 
                                       
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