Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia is the largest suburb of the capital Colombo
, in Western Province, Sri Lanka
. It is situated immediately south of the Colombo city centre. It is a combination of certain key urban suburbs and communities combined for administrative purposes. The centres include Dehiwala and the beach resort of Mount Lavinia. It is home to Sri Lanka's National Zoological Gardens which remains one of Asia
's largest. Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia lie along the Galle Road artery which runs along the coast to the south of the country.
The town of Dehiwala has seen rapid industrialisation and urbanisation in recent years. Located on the border to Colombo, the cheaper land has resulted in a real estate boom with hyper-markets, department stores and apartment complexes dotting its skyline. There are also many housing schemes surrounding the wild-life inhabited Attidiya Lake further inland - one of these is Lotus Grove which is also reported to be the first enclosed complex of its kind in the country. Dehiwala during recent years have become an attractive location for holiday accommodation facilities for both business travelers and holiday makers as a result of its close proximity to Colombo and Mount Lavinia beach.
The town is largely a middle class and mostly residential suburb that had until now escaped most of the damaging industrialisation of neighbouring cities and urban centres. Famed for its "Golden Mile" of beaches, it has often been a hot spot for tourism and laid back nightlife. It is one of the most liberal regions in Sri Lanka and plays host to the island's annual gay pride and Rainbow Kite Festival.
There are other explanations rooted in geography and the natural surroundings, when it comes to the origin of the name Mount Lavinia. The Sinhalese who lived on the coastal belt had for long named the promontory "Lihiniya Kanda" or "Lihiniyagala" meaning the hill of the sea gull or the rock of the sea gull.