Sri Lanka

The VOC captured the island of Mannar in 1658. Mannar was one of the last Portuguese strongholds in Ceylon and the Portuguese put up a strong defence, but to no avail. The VOC secured the island and for the time being it ruled supreme in Ceylon, unchallenged by any of its European competitors. The island of Mannar lay close to the Indian coast. A visitor in 1658 called it an earthly paradise. The fort had every convenience; each of the soldiers had a young Ceylonese servant to look after his weaponry, and a woman to prepare his meals. The Company introduced Protestantism here. Mannar was a rich island. Particularly profitable was the trade in pearls which were plentiful in the waters around the island. Pearl fishing was organised on a major scale under the strict supervision of the VOC. In addition Mannar was a source of cotton and clothing, red textile dye, fish and elephants. The fort at Mannar played a key role in the defence of the sea route to India and the VOC's trading interests. Built by the Portuguese, the fort remained largely unchanged under the Company.