In earliest times, Kollam was an important commercial trade centre from the time of the Romans and he Phoenicians. In the 14th century, a Chinese Traveler Ibn Batuta regarded Kollam as one of the five ports which he visited during his travels in 24 years. Desinganadu, the rulers of Kollam used to exchange embassies with China and it was the only port in the country where the Chinese ships were halted while on their way from Canton of Persian Gulf.In 1502, the first trading center at Kollam was established by the Portuguese. Later on the Dutch came here and in 195, the British occupied the port.
The district of Kollam made remarkable development during the reign of the Travancore and in 1835;the state of Travancore was consisted of two revenue divisions having its headquarters at Kollam and Kottayam. When in 1949, the districts of Travancore and Cochin got integrated, Kollam was also among the three revenue divisions of the state. Later on it got converted into a district having a single revenue division with its headquarter at Kollam.