The town of Jaboatão dos Guararapes was founded on May 4, 1593 by Bento Luiz Figueira, the third owner of Engenho São João Batista. The Second Battle of Guararapes occurred in the city and was one of the most important battles in Brazil's history, in which the people from Pernambuco defeated and expelled the Dutch from the State. This battle was an important event that led to the creation of the Brazilian Army. In 1873 it ascended to village status, and in 1884 after being split up with Olinda it ascended to city status.
In 2009, the city population estimated by IGBE was 687,688, however, local politicians criticized the research claiming that there were more people living in the city than were on the census. Notwithstanding, IBGE did not redo the survey. Its population makes it the 2nd most populous city in the state of Pernambuco, 9th in the Northeast region and the 26th in the whole country.