The history of this coast, shaped by its location and the predominance of Málaga, spans about 2,800 years. The first inhabitants to settle here may have been the Bastuli, an ancient Celtiberian tribe. The Phoenicians founded their colony of Malaka here about 770 BC, and from the 6th century BC it was under the hegemony of ancient Carthage in north Africa. From 218 BC the region was ruled by the Roman Republic and then at the end of the 1st century it was federated with the Roman Empire.
Under the rule of the Roman Republic, the Municipium Malacitanum became a transit point on the Via Herculea, which revitalised the city both economically and culturally by connecting it with other developed enclaves in the interior of Hispania and with other ports of the Mediterranean Sea.
The decline of the Roman imperial power in the 5th century led to invasions of Hispania Baetica by Germanic peoples and by the Byzantine Empire. The southern Mediterranean coast was part of Visigothic Spain from the fifth century until the Muslim Arab conquest of Hispania (711–718) The city, then known as Mālaqa (مالقة), was encircled by defensive walls. In 1026 it became the capital of the Taifa of Málaga, an independent Muslim kingdom ruled by the Hammudid dynasty in the Caliphate of Córdoba, which was conquered by the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada.
The siege of Mālaqa by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487 was one of the longest of the Reconquista. In the 16th century, the area entered a period of slow decline, exacerbated by epidemics of disease, several successive poor food crops, floods, and earthquakes.
Trade, dominated by foreign merchants, was the main source of wealth in Málaga province of the 18th century, with wine and raisins as the principal commodity exports. Public works done on the Málaga city port as well as those on the Antequera and Velez roadways provided the necessary infrastructure for distribution of the renowned Málaga wines.
Málaga, as headquarters of the Capitanía General de Granada (Captaincy General of the Kingdom of Granada) on the coast, played an essential role in the foreign policy of the Bourbon kings of Spain. The regional military and the defence of the Mediterranean were administered in the city. The loss of Gibraltar to the British in the Battle of Málaga of 1704 made the city the key to military defence of the Strait.
During the second half of the 18th century Málaga solved its chronic water supply problems with the completion of one of the largest infrastructure projects carried out in Spain at the time: the building of the Aqueduct of San Telmo. The peasantry and the working classes still made up the vast majority of the population, but the emergence of a business-oriented middle-class lay the foundations for the 19th-century economic boom.