It is at an altitude of 26 meters above sea-level. According to the 2000 census, it had a population of 4,664 people.
Maní has been continuously occupied for approximately 4,000 years. In the postclassic Mesoamerican era it was home to the Tutal Xiu Maya dynasty, which moved their capital here from Uxmal in the 13th century. The Xiu were the dominant power in the western Yucatan after the fall of Mayapan in 1441. A yearly festival in honor of the deity Kukulcan was held here.
With the arrival of the Spanish the Xiu of Maní allied themselves with the Spanish and assisted in the conquest of the rest of the peninsula.
The town has an old Franciscan monastery established in 1549, the Parroquia y Exconvento de San Miguel Arcangel. The large building was build using many cut stones from Pre-Columbian buildings of Maní. Inside are some early colonial era fresco murals. Restoration work on the monastery building and its artwork began in 2001.
In July 1562, Friar Diego de Landa held an auto de fe Inquisitional cerermony in Maní, burning a number of Maya hieroglyphic books and a reported 5000 idols, saying that they were "works of the devil". This act along numerous incidents of torture at the monastery were examples of the techniques used to speed the mass adoption of Roman Catholicism throughout the region.