The area of South Florida that later developed into the city of Miami was settled over four thousand years ago by native tribes, the most prominent among which were the Calusa tribe. When the first Europeans arrived here in 1513 (led by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon), the Calusa had already built well-established settlements along the Miami River, which the natives called “Mayaimi” (roughly translated into Big Water). The European settlers soon adopted the native name when the city emerged out of the early settlements.
There are other theories about the origin of Miami’s name, though… Some say that the city was named after a Native American tribe that inhabited the region. It is this tribe that was called Mayaimi and not the river, say supporters of this theory. Others believe that Lake Okeechobee was called Mayaimi by the Native Americans in the region.
The city of Miami is also referred to by nicknames such as the Magic City, Capital of Latin America, and the Gateway to the Americas.