Matara (originally Mahathota) is a major city in Sri Lanka; it located in the southern coast of Southern Province, Sri Lanka, 160 km from Colombo. It is one of the major commercial hubs in the country, and it is the administrative capital of Matara District.
Matara historically belongs to the area that is called Ruhuna, which was one of the three kingdoms in Sri Lanka (Thun Sinhalaya). The temple in the middle of the town is also built by ancient kings, and now it is a very popular sacred place among the Buddhists in the area. In the 16th and 18th centuries, Matara was ruled by the Portuguese and the Dutch respectively. The culture and architecture can still be seen in the area. The popular light house in Point Dondra was built by the Dutch, and it is considered as one of the most beautiful and oldest light houses in Sri Lanka. The two fortresses that were built by the Portuguese and the Dutch can be found inside the city. Other important works by the Dutch are the St Marie's church and the market place in Nupe junction.
The most famous thinkers who lived in the area are Kumaratunga Munidasa and Gajaman Nona. The ethnic majority of Matara are Sinhalese; during the 16th and 17th centuries Moors arrived in the area as traders from Arabia, and today their descendants coexist with Sinhalese peacefully as an ethnic minority.