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The city of Ningbo was known in Europe for a long time under the name of Liampó. in the standard Portuguese history, João de Barros's Décadas da Ásia, although Barros explained that Liampó was a Portuguese "corruption" of the more correct Nimpó.

The spelling Liampó is also attested in the Peregrination (Peregrinação) by Fernão Mendes Pinto, a (so-called) autobiography written in Portuguese during the 16th century.

The British repulsed a Chinese attempt to retake the city in the Battle of Ningpo on March 10, 1842.

In 1864, the forces of the Taiping Rebellion held the town for six months.

Ningbo was also once famed for traditional Chinese furniture production.

By 1542, the Portuguese had a sizable community in Ningbo (or, more likely, on nearby small islands).

Portuguese activities from their Ningbo base included pillaging and attacking multiple Chinese port cities around Ningbo for plunder and spoil. The Portuguese were ousted from the Ningbo area in 1548.

The city's export industry dates back to the 7th century.

Today Ningbo is a major exporter of electrical products, textiles, food, and industrial tools.

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The city receives an average annual rainfall of 1,440 millimetres (56.7 in) and is affected by the plum rains of the Asian monsoon in June, when average relative humidity also peaks.