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About Hambantota
 
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Introduction

In Sri Lanka’s southern province, the district of Hambantota stretches into the country’s dry zone. Hambantota district boasts many natural resources including the ocean, fertile fields and national parks. These resources continue to offer opportunities for valuable income generation for the district and for the overall development of the country.

Hambantota was hit hard from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. With support from both national and international organisations, Hambantota has now fully recovered and has commenced a new chapter of great opportunity to offer international level services.
This is due to a targeted investment focus from government and international countries for several large development projects.

Given Hambantota’s natural resources and recent large development investments, Hambantota district now presents exciting opportunities for the visionary investor with potential to be a gateway to growing investment and economic development of Sri Lanka’s Southern region.

   
History

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

In about 200 BC, 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 southern part of the island. This region played a vital role in building the nation as well as nurturing the Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture.

During the height of this vibrant period travellers and traders from the Far East, Siam, China and Indonesia sought anchorage in Hambantota’s natural harbour. The vessels these traders travelled in were called “Sampans” and their anchorage came to be known as “Samptantota” (now this anchorage is known as Godawaya). By and by the area came to be called “Hambantota”.

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Investment Opportunities
                                                   
 

Over recent years, Hambantota has been a focus of much development to create a hub for international business, functions, tourism, sports and leisure.
Hambantota is now home to several completed large investment projects as follows:

  • Mattala Rajapaska International Airport (MRIA), 18 km away was opened in March 2013 and offers much potential to be fully utilised in the future.  (The regional Weerawila Airport is also nearby). 
  • The Hambantota Port Development Project has completed Phase 1 of the international port project with plans to be the biggest port in South Asia.  China is a predominant investor in this project.
  • Magam Ruhanupura International Convention Centre (MRICC), opened in November 2013 is a state of the art centre that brings sophisticated, international standard facilities for conferences, meetings and other high level functions.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa (or Sooriyawewa) International Cricket (MRIC) Stadium is a was completed for the February 2011 Cricket World Cup with a capacity of 35,000 people.
  • Hambantota Wind Farm - Sri Lanka’s first wind farm has taken advantage of the wind to generate renewable energy

Projects that are still in development include:

  • The Matara-Kataragama Railway Line project has commenced construction with planned completion suggested as 2019.
  • Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of 15,000 acres has been proposed with over 1,000 acres situated in Hambantota to build factories, LNG plants and refineries.
  • Industrial zones operating in the district include Bata-ata, Mirijjawila, and Beliatta.

With many projects completed and more in progress, Hambantota is a prime location for innovative investors to leverage these new developments.  Hambantota has limitless potential with plentiful natural resources and an abundant supply of willing labourers. 

Natural resources such as citronella oil, cinnamon, sugar cane, forest resources, minerals, and many other products continue to provide a solid foundation for future industries in the district. 

The region boasts of some of the country’s most skilled artisans, especially jewellery designers and crafters The HDCC engages local peoples’ skilled work with materials including gold, silver and brass and envision future opportunities for economic growth.           

Key infrastructure, utilities and financial services (such as water and electrical power, telecommunication services, banking facilities) provide a conducive atmosphere for business development.

At a grass roots level, the weekly pola (bazaar) is a well-patronized market place in Hambantota town where families sell their farm produce and fish vendors maintain brisk business.

 

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Agriculture

The strongest aspect of Hambantota’s economy is based in the agriculture sector.
                 
Cultivation : -
 

While the agriculture sector is booming, the HDCC looks for ways to improve and expand this area. In Hambantota agriculture is the main form of economic activity and over 55 per cent of the total population depends on agriculture in its various forms to make a living.

Paddy milling, the production of rice, is a major industry in the region. Citronella, cinnamon and pepper join it as other key sectoral successes.

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 but coconut is the District’s main commercial crop. The by-products of coconut cultivation already led a burgeoning industry. 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 and other products that make the perfect souvenir.

 
                 
 
Fisheries : -
 

Hambantota District, known for its picturesque seashore and scenic bays, is home to its expanding fishery harbours. Due to this growth, 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 greater impact in the fishing industry. Prawn farming, for example, offers big potential as a leading industry under the right entrepreneur. 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 will grow beyond our local fishermen.    
                 
 
Animal Husbandry :
                     
 
Animal husbandry is another of the District’s successful industries. Hambantota is reputed for buffalo milk and curd (like Greek yogurt), which also contributes significantly to the regional economy. Livestock farming and animal husbandry in cattle, poultry and goats are among our current suggested profitable investment avenues.
 
Industries
 
   
 

The mere mention of saltpan is synonymous with Hambantota. At present the District’s salt industry, which produces 60 per cent of the total salt production of the country, is one of the oldest in the land.  Salt is a raw material for several 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 popular ice production plants in the Hambantota District barely meet the demand of the area as well as cater to the needs of places such as Ampara, Pottuvil and Batticaloa.                           

The cotton industry is a very active sector in the district. There are over 3,000 units in operation engaged in textile weaving, sewing, and tile and brickwork.     
 
 
 
Tourism
 
 

Hambantota is already well on its way to be a promising tourism destination. This is highlighted by the current and future development projects, including the Dry Zone Botanical Garden and the Ridiyagama Safari. 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 snorkelling. Parks and sanctuaries abound for wildlife enthusiasts, Kalamatiya lagoon that provides for a bird sanctuary located between Ranna and Ambalantota, are among the District’s enchanting destinations.

If Hambantota today is interesting, its past is also tantalizing. There are ruins and religious sites filled with legends and so steeped in rich history it is enough to make one marvel at the bygone eras.

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

In the Bundala Bird Sanctuary, flamingos are among the enchanting creature inhabiting the area. Did you know elephants retreat to the Bundala saltpans during times of drought?

The Weerawila Sanctuary encompasses the Wirawila and TissaWewa reservoir. Visitors can watch for aquatic species of birds and a great many jungle animals.

The eastern limit of the south coast is marked by Ruhuna National Park best known simply as ‘Yala’. Often described as Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ come to life, this is a must see for any traveller. This is one of the best places in the world for viewing leopards in their natural habitat and to admire elephants from afar.

Two sets of rocky islets, the Lesser and Greater Basses, each marked by a lighthouse, offshore of Yala are also worth a visit. The world-famous author and scientist Arthur C Clarke considers scuba diving along the Great Basses Reefs (only five minutes from Yala!) 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. It is one of the best places to connect with Sri Lanka’s deep spiritual roots.
The Hill country lies also near Hambantota District. Travellers looking to visit tea plantations are close to the world famous ‘Virgin White Tea’ plantation, Ella and Nuwara Eliya.



 
                                       
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