Galle (ගාල්ල in Sinhala; காலி in Tamil) (pronounced as one syllable in English, IPA: /gɔːl/, the same as “Gaul”, and in Sinhalese, IPA: [gaːlːə]) is a town situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle was known as Gimhathiththa (although Ibn Batuta in the 14th century refers to it as Qali) before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, when it was the main port on the island. Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British, who developed the harbor at Colombo.


Galle is sizeable town, by Sri Lankan standards, and has a population of 90,934, the majority of whom are of Sinhalese ethnicity; there is a large Sri Lankan Moor minority who claim to be descendants of the Arab traders that apparently established the ancient port of Galle.

Ethnicity Population % Of Total
Sinhalese 66,114 72.71
Sri Lankan Tamils 989 1.09
Indian Tamils 255 0.28
Sri Lankan Moors 23,234 25.56
Other (including Burgher, Malay) 342 0.38
Total 90,934 100

Source: 2001 Census


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