The Name Matara its meaning -

During the past Matara was called " Mahathota". The river running through Matara is 'Nilwala River. There was a wide area across this river. Hence it was called "Mhathota" which means "The great ferry ".Out all the other "great ferries in Sri lanka,Mahathota attracted the attention of the poets. According to Reverend Sri Rahula's" Paravi Sndesaya " it is mentioned that Weerabamapanam made Matara as his capital and named "Mapatuna". Portuguese Priest Quarese's reason for the name "Matara" is also referring to Nilwala River. Portuguese called this place as " Maturai " , and which means a great fortress. Portuguese called as" Maturai" in 1672. In 1744 Hide Matheren called as "Madarai". One thing that is clear here is that the Portuguese mis-pronounced the word. According to the old books it is clear that the Portuguese called it as "Maturai". "Thurai" which is a Tamil word means "Ferry".
The presently used name "Matara" has been in used for the last three centuries connecting its contact with the river "Nilwala".
Flag of Matara -

Matara has been dominated from time to time by foreign rulers. As a result it is impossible to presume what was the official flag of Matara.In the past Matara became famous for its elephant orphanage .The head of the elephant orphanage was Gajanayaka.

The flag that belonged to him was the flag with the elephant on the center and four bloomed lotus flowers in the four corners of the flag. Even today this flag is being displayed at state functions as the flag of Matara along with the national flag. This practice is followed to remember the ancient history with which this flag is connected. Anybody seeing this flag can be proud of its perennial value.
About Administrations in Matara -

Portuguese Administration (1790-1795)

# Dutch Administration

# English Administration
Dutch Administration -

The Dutch which captured the Maritime Province divided it in to four Administrative areas. They were named as Sabaragamuwa, Sath Korle, Sathara Korele and Matara. Out of these, Matara District covered a larger area. Whole of Southern Province up to river Kaluganga was extended as Matara District .In the deed given by “King Dharmapala”to the Dutch it was mentioned that the area of Matara District extended from Kotte to River Walawe Ganga. According to the Dutch Priest “Franande de Quvrose" who wrote an explanatory report .Maritime Southern Province was divided in to nine areas for administrative purposes. All these nine provinces were named as “ Matara Maha Disawa ”. By these facts it is clear that Matara had been considered as an important area during the period of Dutch. The following maps show how they divided the area for administrative purposes
    The above maps of the Dutch show the division.
About Star Fort -

This fort was build by the Dutch during their rule and the original structure is maintained to date. Construction work on this fort was completed in 1765.Even today this fort can be seen in its original structure near the river Nilwala by the side of the Matara Hospital. As this structure is StarShaped it was called “Star Fort”. The roof of this building paved with cadjan leaves was one time the Engineering office. But today it is converted into a Museum. Later the cadjan roof was replaced with tiles made of clay.This fort becomes historically important for there is another Fort built during the rule of the Dutch. Maintenance of its originality by the successive governments makes anyone to understand the history of Matara even without referring to books.The letters marked VOC on the arch of the entrance to the Star Fort is a name of a company which is written in Dutch language as follows: " vercenigde ostindenche compagne ". This means United Eastern Trading Company. This was constructed by the Governor Redout Van Eat. The year engraved in the badge is 1765. The following wordings in Dutch language can be seen under the badge
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