Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई ) (pronounced /mumʋaːi/ in Marathi, and /mʊm'baɪ/ in English), formerly known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is the most populous Indian city with a 2005 estimated population of about 18 million. Mumbai is located on Salsette Island off the west coast of India. Along with the neighbouring towns, it forms one of the world's most populous metropolitan areas, with an extended population of 20 million. The city, which has a deep natural harbour, is also the largest port in western India, handling over half of India's passenger traffic.
Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, and houses important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies. Because of the immense business opportunities available in Mumbai and the relatively high standard of living, it has attracted migrants from all over India and South Asia, making the city a potpourri of various communities and cultures. Bollywood, the epicentre of the country's Hindi film and television industry is located in Mumbai. Mumbai is also one of the rare cities to accommodate a national park, Borivali National Park within its city limits.
The appellation Mumbai is an eponym, etymologically derived from Mumba — the name of the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and Aai — meaning mother in Marathi. In the 16th century, the Portuguese named the area Bom Bahia, which means Good Bay. This was later corrupted to Bomaím or Bombaim, by which name it is still known in Portuguese; and after the British gained possession, it was anglicised to Bombay. The name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, but the former name is still popularly used in the West and by many of the city's inhabitants and famous institutions.
Present-day Mumbai was originally made up of seven isles. Artefacts found near Kandivali in northern Mumbai indicate that these islands had been inhabited since the Stone Age. Documented evidence dates back to 250 BC when it was known as Heptanesia or a cluster of seven islands. In the 3rd century BCE, they were part of the Maurya empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka. The Hindu rulers of the Silhara dynasty later governed the islands until 1343, when it was annexed by the kingdom of Gujarat. Some of the oldest edifices of the archipelago–the Elephanta Caves and the Walkeshwar temple complex date to this era.
In 1534, the Portuguese appropriated the islands from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They were ceded to Charles II of England in 1661 as dowry or, more appropriately, wedding gifts of Catherine de Braganza. They in turn were leased to the British East India Company in 1668 for a sum of £10 per annum. The company found the deep harbour at Bombay eminently apposite, and the population rose from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the East India Company transferred their headquarters from Surat to Bombay.
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