Colombo is capital of Sri Lanka. Sheltered from the South-west Monsoon by a barely perceptible promontory jutting out into the sea, Colombo's bay was an important site for Muslim traders before the colonial period. However, it is essentially a colonial city, whose rise to pre-eminence did not start until the 19th century and the establishment of British power. Before that it was a much less important town than Galle, but when the British took control of Kandy  and encouraged the development of commercial estates, the Island's economic center of gravity moved north. The capital, Colombo offered two east routes into  the Kandyan highlands.