Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, the most populous city of India, and by some measures the most populous city in the world with an estimated population of about 13 million (as of 2006). The metro population is expected to be ranked 4th in the world by 2015 due to an annual growth rate of 2.2%.
Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India , and houses important financial institutions, such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies. Mumbai has attracted migrants from all over India because of the immense business opportunities, and the relatively high standard of living, making the city a potpourri of various communities and cultures. The city is home to India’s Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai is also one of the rare cities to accommodate a national park, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, within its city limits.
The name Mumbai is an eponym, etymologically derived from Mumba or Maha-Amba- the name of the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and Aai – mother in Marathi. The English name Bombay has its origins in the 16th century when the Portuguese arrived in the area and called the place with various names, which would finally take on the written form Bombaim, still common in current Portuguese use. After the British gained possession in the 17th century, it was anglicized to Bombay, although it was known as Mumbai or Mambai to Marathi and Gujarati speakers, and as Bambai in Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. The name was officially changed to Mumbai in 1995, but the former name is still used by some of the city’s inhabitants and famous institutions.
Present Mumbai was originally an archipelago of seven islands. Artifacts found near Kandivali, in northern Mumbai indicate that these islands had been inhabited since the Stone Age. Documented evidence of human habitation dates back to 250 BC, when it was known as Heptanesia (Ptolemy) (Ancient Greek: A Cluster of Seven Islands). In the 3rd century BCE, the islands formed part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Aºoka. The Hindu rulers of the Silhara Dynasty later governed the islands until 1343, when the kingdom of Gujarat annexed them. Some of the oldest edifices of the archipelago – the Elephanta Caves and the Walkeshwar temple complex date from this era.