Mumbai, also known as Bombay up until 1995, is one of the largest and most important cities in India. It is also the capital city of the state of Maharashtra.
Due to its strategic geopolitical location, Mumbai is one of the most populated cities in the country and often marks its place in the list of top ten cities in the world. Located on the western coast of the country, the city of Mumbai has a GDP of around $368 billion (PPP), justifying its title as the economic and financial capital of the country. Contributing to a whopping 6.16% of the total GDP of India, it is also in the list of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the world.
The factors leading to the massive growth of Mumbai lies in the fact that the city is home to some of the most renowned government and international institutions in India. It is also home to the country's biggest entertainment industry, Bollywood.
In British times, most of the trade was based on textiles and seaports, but that has changed since the liberalisation with the city now diversifying in various sectors such as the IT, finance, entertainment, diamond and fashion industry. The importance of the city is amplified by the fact that 5 of the Fortune 500 companies are based in Mumbai.
Reliance Industries, which is the largest company in the country in terms of revenue, currently ranking 58 in Forbes Rank in the world, is also based in Mumbai. Some of the biggest and oldest corporations in India, such as the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the Tata Group, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) are also headquartered in Mumbai.
The Reserve Bank of India, which is the country's central bank also founds its home in the city of Mumbai. This is aided by the fact that the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which is India's largest and Asia's oldest stock exchange, is located on Dalal Street. The area also houses hundreds of several other reputed financial institutions.
According to the United Nations, Mumbai is currently ranked as an Alpha city (also called World City), which means it has a tremendous political, social and economic impact on the world stage. The ever-growing migrant population has led to the city becoming one of the most populated cities in the country. Currently, Mumbai sits on the 20th position on the list of most densely populated cities on the planet.
Unsurprisingly, Mumbai has a rich history, with various Victorian-era buildings spanning throughout the city. UNESCO has identified three World Heritage Sites, namely the Elephanta Caves, the famous Shivaji Chhatrapati Terminus (built in the British Era) and a collection of Victorian-style buildings known as the Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble. Spread in the Fort precinct of the city, most of the buildings are set around the Oval Maidan and include the University of Mumbai and the building of the Mumbai High Court.
Apart from the aforementioned sites, some other notable landmarks include the iconic Gateway of India, Haji Ali Dargah, the Rajabai Clock Tower, Mount Mary Church and the Siddhivinayak Temple. The city itself is a popular tourist destination in the country, attracting millions of visitors every year.
Originally comprising of seven islands, the city was unified into a single landmass in 1845 and was the first city in the country to be connected by railway. Although the original islands span no more than 68 sq. km, the total area of Mumbai accounts for 603.4 sq. km along with its suburban districts.
After the construction of the Suez Canal, Mumbai found itself at the centre of sea trade because of its natural deepwater ports and easy access to the Arabian Sea. This made Mumbai the country's largest seaport, accounting for almost 70% of the total maritime trade in India.
The two largest ports in the city are the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and the Mumbai Port Trust, with the latter being one of the best natural harbours in the world. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust is single-handedly responsible for handling more than 60% fo the country's container cargo, making it one of the busiest ports in the world.
Naturally, this made the city a lucrative destination for businesses and investors alike, with people coming from all parts of the country looking to work and settle in the city. However, the majority of the working people settled in Mumbai are rather employed by the state and the Central government.
That being said, Mumbai is also home to cheap labour, with people from all corners of the country looking for work. Many of the semi-skilled workers are employed by the shipping industry. Daily wage workers also make up a sizable chunk of the city's workforce.
Apart from government employees, Mumbai is home to people working in the entertainment and the broadcasting industry. Majority of India's biggest production houses are, therefore, headquartered throughout the city.
Tourism is also a big deal in the city, with Mumbai accounting for more than 5% of the country's total tourists. The tourism industry in the city supports more than 700,000 people as of now. Tourism in Mumbai generates more than $4 billion annually.
As a result of Mumbai's ever-growing popularity, Mumbai is now the world's 9th wealthiest city, with the largest number of ultra-millionaires in the country. According to the Forbe's, Mumbai ranks 8th in the list of cities with the most number of billionaires on the planet. As of 2020, 38 billionaires have their homes in the city.
The strategic location of Mumbai in the Arabian Sea, coupled with the numerous industries it houses, makes it one of the most important cities on Earth. It is undoubtedly set to become an economic powerhouse in the near future, and might even surpass Tokyo population-wise. According to some estimates, by 2030, Mumbai's economy might even surpass that of Malaysia's.
As time passes, Mumbai is set to grow at a faster rate than ever before, and will always hold an important place in India's economic growth.