The City of Davao (Filipino: Lungsod ng Dabaw) is a highly-urbanized Philippine city. The city serves as the regional center of the Davao Region and the center of Metro Davao. It has a population of 1,449,296 according to 2010 census, making it the country's largest city outside Metro Manila. The City Mayors Foundation ranks Davao City as the 87th fastest growing city in the world, and it has been listed by the FDi magazine as the 10th "Asian City of the Future".
Local historians of Davao claim that the word davao came from the phonetic blending of the word of three Bagobo subgroups when referring to Davao River, an essential waterway which empties itself into Davao Gulf near the city. The aboriginal Obos who inhabit the hinterlands of the region called the river, Davoh; the Clatta or Guiangans called it Duhwow, or Davau, and the Tagabawa Bagobos, Dabu. To the Obos, the word davoh also means a place "beyond the high grounds", alluding to the settlements located at the mouth of Davao River which were surrounded by high rolling hills. When asked where they were going, the usual reply is davoh, while pointing towards the direction of the town. Duhwow also refers to a trading settlement where they barter their forest goods in exchange for salt or other commodities.
Spanish influence was hardly felt in the Davao until 1848, when an expedition of 70 men and women led by Don Jose Cruz de Uyanguren, a native of Vergara, Guipuzcoa, Spain, came to establish a Christian settlement in an area of mangrove swamps that is now Bolton Riverside. Davao was then ruled by a chieftain, Datu Bago, who held his settlement at the banks of Davao River (once called Tagloc River by the Bagobos). The chieftain was the most powerful datu in the area during that time. When Uyanguren met with the Mandaya chieftain Datu Daupan, he allied with the chieftain to help defeat Datu Bago, who treated their neighbors Mandayas as tributary barangays. Uyanguren attempted to defeat Datu Bago, but failed when their ships were outmaneuvered in crossing the narrow channel of the Davao River bend, where the Bolton Bridge is now located. Three months after the battle, he was forced to build the causeway that connects to the other side of the river, but Datu Bago's warriors raided the causeway and harassed the workers. However, a few weeks later after the battle, Don Manuel Quesada, Navy Commanding General of Zamboanga, arrived with a company of infantry and joined in the attack against Datu Bago’s settlement.
After Uyanguren defeated Datu Bago, he renamed the region Nueva Guipúzcoa and founded the town Nueva Vergara, which was Davao, in the year 1848, in honor of his home in Spain, and became its first governor. He himself was reported to have peaceful conquest of the entire Davao Gulf territory at the end of the year, despite lack of support from the Spanish government in Manila and his principals during the venture. He attempted to make peace with the neighboring tribes—the Bagobos, Mansakas, Manobos, Aetas, etc. -- to urge them to help develop the area; his efforts to develop the area, however, did not prosper.