Eventually annexed by the British in 1799, Mangalore remained part of the Madras Presidency until India's independence in 1947.
The city was unified with the state of Mysore (now called Karnataka) in 1956.
It is also the largest city in the Coastal and Malnad regions of Karnataka, besides being a commercial, industrial, educational and healthcare hub on the West Coast.
Mangalore city urban agglomeration extends from Ullal in the south to Mulki in the north, covering a distance of over 40 km.
During the first century CE, Pliny the Elder, a Roman historian, made references to a place called Nitrias, as a very undesirable place for disembarkation, on account of the pirates which frequent its vicinity, while Greek historian Ptolemy in the second century CE referred to a place called Nitra.
Ptolemy's and Pliny the Elder's references were probably made to the Netravati River, which flows through Mangalore.
In Konkani, Mangalore is referred to as Koḍiyāḷ, while the Beary name for the city is Maikala.
It is the administrative headquarters of the Dakshina Kannada (formerly South Canara) district in south western Karnataka.
1110 – c.1160), the city was visited by the Tunisian Jewish merchant Abraham Ben Yiju, who travelled between the Middle East and India during the 12th century.
The Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, who had visited the town in 1342, referred to it as Manjarur, and stated that the town was situated on a large estuary, called the "estuary of the wolf," and was the greatest estuary in the country of Malabar.
Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Greek monk, in his 6th century work Christian Topography mentions Malabar as the chief seat of the pepper trade, and Mangarouth (port of Mangalore) as one of the five pepper marts which exported pepper.
From the middle of the seventh century to the end of the 14th century, the South Canara region was ruled by its own native Alupa rulers.
The Alupas ruled over the region as feudatories of major regional dynasties like the Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Chalukyas of Kalyani, and Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra.