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By the middle of the 18th century Havana had more than seventy thousand inhabitants, and was the third-largest city in the Americas, ranking behind Lima and Mexico City but ahead of Boston and New York.
During the 18th century Havana was the most important of the Spanish ports because it had facilities where ships could be refitted and, by 1740, it had become Spain's largest and most active shipyard and only drydock in the New World.
The city of Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due to its strategic location it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the Americas, becoming a stopping point for treasure-laden Spanish galleons returning to Spain.
King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592.
In the meantime, efforts to build or improve the defensive infrastructures of the city continued. New buildings were constructed from the most abundant materials of the island, mainly wood, combining various Iberian architectural styles, as well as borrowing profusely from Canarian characteristics.
The city is the center of the Cuban government, and home to various ministries, headquarters of businesses and over 90 diplomatic offices.
Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded Havana on August 25, 1515, on the southern coast of the island, near the present town of Surgidero de Batabanó, or more likely on the banks of the Mayabeque River close to Playa Mayabeque.
All attempts to found a city on Cuba's south coast failed.
On December 20, 1592, King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City.
Later on, the city would be officially designated as "Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies" by the Spanish Crown.