Colima was inhabited for several thousand years by indigenous populations, such as the Otomí, Nauhuatl, Tolteca, Chicimeca, and Tarasca, prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
Modern history began in1522 when Gonzalo de Sandoval was scouting safe harbors in which to build ships and discovered the Bay of Salagua. While there he met with local chieftains, which led to the now-famous naming of the beach Playa de la Audiencia.
A year later, the powerful Kingdom of Tzintuntzan, which ruled the area at the time, was defeated in a decisive battle by the Spanish, after which de Sandoval immediately established the Spanish settlement that is now the city of Colima.
The name Manzanillo is derived from the Manzanilla trees that were used to construct ships for the Spanish. The Bay of Manzanillo, founded by the navigator Alvaro de Saavedra, became Latin America’s first shipyard. Several ships were built for Hernan Cortes’s voyage to California. Additionally, some ships used in the Spanish conquest of the Philippines were also built in the port of Manzanillo. The importance of the port was validated in 1540 when the Spanish built a road from Manzanillo to Mexico City to transport goods from Manzanillo.
For the next 300 years, pirates of many nations attacked ships coming from Manzanillo for their precious cargo, the riches of Mexico.
By 1825, the Port of Manzanillo officially opened for business and on June 15,1873, Manzanillo was elevated to the status of a city. President Porfirio Diaz declared the city the official port of entry to Mexico in 1908.
Today, Manzanillo is a city of about 185,000 and Mexico’s busiest port on the Pacific Ocean. Much of the imported cargo is transported to Mexico City. It is the economic engine for both business and tourism in Colima.
Tourism has been a major contributor to the city’s business success, and has made Manzanillo one of the country’s most important tourist destinations.
Manzanillo also is known as the “sailfish capital of the world,” hosting major sport fishing events since 1957.