Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India

Mumbai (Bombay), located on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent on the Arabian Sea, is one of the megacities of the Third World. It is the country’s first port and one of the subcontinent’s oldest industrial cities. Under the English rule it became the center of trade with cotton mills and a trading depot. Nowadays it is a modern industrial city with cotton textile industry as well as mechanical engineering, automobile industry and pharmaceutical industry.

The city has over 14 million residents and an enormous population growth. It is the city with the sharpest social differences between rich and poor. A variety of ethnic groups from all parts of the country and from abroad live in the Mumbai metropolitan area, a total of over 21 million people.

Geographical location

According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Mumbai (Bombay) is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The name Bombay is derived from the Portuguese Bom Bahia and means “beautiful bay”. Since 1997 the city officially bears the Indian name Mumbai, previously: Bombay. It is located on the west coast of the Indian peninsula on the Arabian Sea and extends over a number of islands. The Gulf of Mumbai extends north of the city to Ahmedabad (Fig. 1).

With around 14 million residents, Mumbai is the largest metropolis on the subcontinent and one of the largest cities on earth. Mumbai has India’s most important trading ports and one of the largest natural ports in the world. With over 21 million residents, the metropolitan region is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the world.

Mumbai is located in the tropical climatic area and is exposed to the southwest monsoon with torrential rainfall due to its exposed coastal location. Every year the floods turn paths and streets into muddy streams.

On the history of the city

Originally Mumbai (Bombay) was spread over seven islands. They are now connected to road and railroad embankments and have grown together to form a single headland. There was already a port at this point in the 13th century, from which a lively exchange with traders from Arabia was carried out. The first great wave of immigration from Iran in the middle of the 17th century led to a surge in trade. The first cotton mills and trading depots were established. Administration buildings and dock facilities were built. In the 18th century, Mumbai became the first trading port of the British East India Company.The number of cotton and silk spinning mills increased in the 19th century. The railway network was expanded and spread across the subcontinent. The port was expanded. Under English rule, Mumbai became the center of trade. The fertile hinterland of the city favored industrialization with a rich jute and cotton production.

Today’s Mumbai

City structure

The cityscape of Mumbai reflects its history and its social structure. The old town with its markets and bazaars documents the colorful mix of people and the diverse handicrafts of the country.

Large parts of downtown Mumbai are still characterized by British colonial buildings.

In the north of the old town the new, modern Mumbai has developed. The population here lives separately according to language and religion. Modern industrial plants are located in this area.

The poorest of the city live in the slums, in the endless northern suburbs of Mumbai.

Mumbai, one city, two worlds

The city of Mumbai is one of the third world megacities. Today it already has over 11 million residents. The annual population growth is around 250,000 to 300,000 residents, which roughly corresponds to the population of Karlsruhe. If this growth continues, Mumbai will have a population of over 24 million in 2010.

Around 300 families from all parts of the country move to the city every day, and they leave their homes for various reasons. Drought, floods, lack of land, indebtedness or the abandonment of handicrafts due to industrialization are the cause. In the north of Mumbai are the slums of the city. The countless newcomers move there. People try to create a roof over their heads with the most primitive shelters made from waste. Around 500,000 people in Mumbai live without a permanent roof over their heads, sleep on sidewalks between blankets and cardboard boxes, in huts made of tarpaulin or in emergency shelters. Often they also seek proximity to industrial or upscale residential areas, always in the hope of finding something useful in the garbage of the rich or of begging for something. Hunger, Malnutrition and poor hygiene are causes of diseases such as tuberculosis, dysentery and leprosy. Prostitution, alcoholism, drug use and crime are part of everyday life here. The appeal of the modern city of Mumbai, the secret capital of India, is still great, and the hope of earning a few rupees or finding work is unbroken. The new Mumbai is a modern city. High-rise buildings define the cityscape. The square meter prices for an office here are now higher than those in New York. 15% of all Indian industrial plants are here. Traditional textile industry, automobile and shipbuilding, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, petrochemical and plants for the production of the most modern electronics as well as nuclear research facilities are located in Mumbai. It is also a banking center. Many insurance companies and trading houses have their headquarters here. The purchasing power of the rich results in a high range of services. Private clinics, private schools, colleges, shopping malls attract people and well-funded companies alike. Film studios are located in Mumbai. The feature film industry has become very important alongside the studios in Madras. India draws a third of all tax revenues from Mumbai. Mumbai is a cultural center with several universities and museums. At the end of the 19th century, the Indian National Congress met here as the sponsor of the struggle for independence. Today Mumbai is the center of the women’s emancipation movement, which is particularly important in India.

Mumbai, India