The scientific name Mangifera is composed of the word mango and the Latin ferre = to bring, collect, and can thus be translated as mango bearer.
The word mango probably comes from the Tamil word man-kay, which refers to the unripe mango fruit. Portuguese traders picked up this word in the Indian markets and ports and mistakenly named the fruit mango.
In Tamil, the main language of southern India, the ripe mango is called mamaran or mampalam. These names come from the word amra, the Sanskrit term for mango. Sanskrit is the language of the oldest Indian literary texts, the Vedas, in which the imposing mango tree stands for strength and might. This is why the word amra was often added as an epithet to the name of distinguished or admired persons. In the Vedas, written down 4000 years B.C., the mango is also called the food of the gods. A Burmese treatise relates that a gardener gave Buddha a mango fruit as a gift. When Buddha had eaten the flesh he entrusted the kernel to his cousin and servant Ananda with the words: "Plant it in a place which is prepared to receive it." To this day Indians give the gods the succulent fruit as a sign of wealth and divine sweetness. The well-known Indian paisley pattern may have been inspired by the curved shape of the fruit. The mango blossom is also connected with Hindu gods. And in Indian poetry the scent of the flower is said to fuel the pain of unrequited love.
Mango trees were already cultivated in the Indian state of Assam 4000 years ago. From there, mango cultivation spread to Malaysia and around 1400 AD through Mohammedan missionaries and pirates to the Philippines. We have the Portuguese to thank for the world-wide presence of the mango today. Presumably at the beginning of the 16th century they took the fruit from Goa to East Africa, from there to West Africa and finally, via various archipelagos, to Brazil. Seed kernels from Rio de Janeiro found their way to Barbados (1742) and Jamaica (1782) and reached Florida around 1833 via Mexico. After failure of the first crop they were successfully cultivated there in 1861 and only four years later also on Hawaii. The mango arrived in Queensland, Australia, around 1870. Today the mango is one of the most widely grown tropical fruits after bananas and citrus fruits. Annual production world wide is 40 million tonnes. India accounts for 50% of this production, followed by Mexico, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Brazil.