The seven islands that constitute Mumbai were originally home to communities of Marathi language speaking Koli people. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese Empire and subsequently to the East India Company when in 1661 Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza and as part of her dowry Charles received the ports of Tangier and Seven Islands of Bombay. During the mid-18th century, Bombay was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook reclamation of the area between the seven islands from the sea. Along with construction of major roads and railways, the reclamation project, completed in 1845, transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. Bombay in the 19th century was characterised by economic and educational development. During the early 20th century it became a strong base for the Indian independence movement. Upon India’s independence in 1947 the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as the capital.
Mumbai is the financial, commercial and the entertainment capital of India. It is also one of the world’s top ten centres of commerce in terms of global financial flow, generating 6.16% of India’s GDP, and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 70% of maritime trade in India (Mumbai Port Trust and JNPT), and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy. Mumbai has the eighth-highest number of billionaires of any city in the world, and Mumbai’s billionaires had the highest average wealth of any city in the world in 2008. The city houses important financial institutions and the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. It is also home to some of India’s premier scientific and nuclear institutes. The city is also home to Bollywood and Marathi cinema industries. Mumbai’s business opportunities attract migrants from all over India.
The name Mumbai is derived from Mumbā or Mahā-Ambā the name of the patron goddess (kuladevata) Mumbadevi of the native Koli community and ā’ī meaning “mother” in the Marathi language, which is the mother tongue of the Koli people and the official language of Maharashtra. The Koli people originated in Kathiawad and Central Gujarat, and according to some sources they brought their goddess Mumba with them from Kathiawad (Gujarat), where she is still worshipped. However, other sources disagree that Mumbai’s name was derived from the goddess Mumba.
The oldest known names for the city are Kakamuchee and Galajunkja; these are sometimes still used. In 1508, Portuguese writer Gaspar Correia used the name “Bombaim” in his Lendas da Índia (“Legends of India”). This name possibly originated as the Galician-Portuguesephrase bom baim, meaning “good little bay”, and Bombaim is still commonly used in Portuguese. In 1516, Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa used the name Tana-Maiambu: Tana appears to refer to the adjoining town of Thane and Maiambu to Mumbadevi.
Other variations recorded in the 16th and the 17th centuries include: Mombayn (1525), Bombay(1538), Bombain (1552), Bombaym (1552), Monbaym (1554), Mombaim (1563), Mombaym(1644), Bambaye (1666), Bombaiim (1666), Bombeye (1676), Boon Bay (1690), and Bon Bahia. After the English gained possession of the city in the 17th century, the Portuguese name was anglicised as Bombay. Ali Muhammad Khan, imperial dewan or revenue minister of the Gujarat province, in the Mirat-i Ahmedi (1762) referred to the city as Manbai.
The French traveller Louis Rousselet, who visited in 1863 and 1868, states in his book L’Inde des Rajahs, which was first published in 1877: “Etymologists have wrongly derived this name from the Portuguese Bôa Bahia, or (French: “bonne bai”, English: “good bay”), not knowing that the tutelar goddess of this island has been, from remote antiquity, Bomba, or Mamba Dévi, and that she still…, possesses a temple”.
By the late 20th century, the city was referred to as Mumbai or Mambai in Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati, Kannada and Sindhi, and as Bambai in Hindi. The Government of India officially changed the English name to Mumbai in November 1995.This came at the insistence of the Marathi nationalist Shiv Sena party, which had just won the Maharashtra state elections, and mirrored similar name changes across the country and particularly in Maharashtra. According to Slate magazine, “they argued that ‘Bombay’ was a corrupted English version of ‘Mumbai’ and an unwanted legacy of British colonial rule.” Slate also said “The push to rename Bombay was part of a larger movement to strengthen Marathi identity in the Maharashtra region.”[ While the city is still referred to as Bombay by some of its residents and by Indians from other regions, mention of the city by a name other than Mumbai has been controversial, resulting in emotional outbursts sometimes of a violently political nature.