In 2009, Mumbai was named an alpha world city placing it amongst the richest and most powerful cities in the world, a far cry from its beginnings as home to several small fishing communities.
What is now Mumbai began as a collection of islands that were inhabited by fishermen for more than a thousand years before the arrival of the Mughal Empire in India in the mid-16th century.
Mumbai became a centre for trade during the colonial era, with its coastal location on the Arabian Sea positioning it for critical maritime trade with the Middle East and Europe, which resulted in the rapid growth of the city.
Mumbai’s historic prosperity can be seen in its impressive Victorian architecture across the city, which housed some of the most important civic and commercial organisations when Mumbai was under command of the British East India Company from the late 19th century to independence in 1947.
Today, Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India as the site of a number of important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange and the headquarters of numerous Indian and multinational corporations, as well as being the home of Indian cinema.
The financial power of the city is evidenced by its skyline: Mumbai is the skyscraper capital of India, with more than a thousand high-rises jostling with the imposing Victorian buildings, and hundreds more under construction.
Its coastal location means that Mumbai maintains its role as one of the most significant sea ports in India: it is an important base for the Indian Navy and its shipping industry is one of the most valuable in the country.
Jawaharlal Nehru Port is Mumbai’s major port, handling around 60% of India’s total containerised cargo, exporting predominantly textiles such as clothes and carpets, as well as exporting meat and medical products across the world.