The Manila galleons were Spanish trading ships which for two and a half centuries linked the Spanish Crown’s Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City, with her Asian territories, collectively known as the Spanish East Indies, across the Pacific Ocean. The ships made one or two round-trip voyages per year between the ports of Acapulco and Manila. The name of the galleon changed to reflect the city that the ship sailed from. The term Manila galleon can also refer to the trade route itself between Acapulco and Manila, which lasted from 1565 to 1815.
The Manila galleons sailed the Pacific for 250 years, bringing to the Americas cargoes of luxury goods such as spices and porcelain in exchange for New World silver. The route also fostered cultural exchanges that shaped the identities and culture of the countries involved. The Manila galleons were also (somewhat confusingly) known in New Spain as La Nao de la China ("The China Ship") on their voyages from the Philippines because they carried mostly Chinese goods, shipped from Manila.
The Spanish inaugurated the Manila galleon trade route in 1565 after the Augustinian friar and navigator Andrés de Urdaneta pioneered the tornaviaje or return route from the Philippines to Mexico. Urdaneta and Alonso de Arellano made the first successful round trips that year. The trade using "Urdaneta's route" lasted until 1815, when the Mexican War of Independence broke out.