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Manila was first known as Ginto (land of gold) or Suvarnadvipa by its neighboring provinces, and was officially the kingdom of Maynila. The kingdom of Maynila flourished during the latter half of the Ming Dynasty as a result of trade relations with China. Ancient Tondo has always been the traditional capital of the empire. Its rulers were equivalents to kings and not mere chieftains, and they were addressed as panginuan or panginoon ("lords"), anak banwa ("son of heaven") or lakandula ("lord of the palace"). During the 13th century, the city consisted of a fortified settlement and trading quarter at the shores of the Pasig river, on top of previous older towns. There is also early evidence of Manila being invaded by the Indianized empire of Majapahit, due to the epic eulogy poem Nagarakretagama which inscribed its conquest by Maharaja Hayam Wuruk. Saludong or Selurong which is a historical name for the city of Manila is listed in Canto 14 alongside Sulot, which is now Sulu, and Kalka.

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei decided to break the Dynasty of Tondo's monopoly in the China trade by attacking it and establishing the state of Selurong (now Manila) as a Bruneian satellite-state. A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salalila. was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines of traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. The multiple states competing over the territory and the people of the islands simplified Spanish colonization by allowing its conquistadors to effectively employ a strategy of divide and conquer for rapid conquest.

Manila was temporarily threatened by the invasion of Chinese Pirate-Warlord Limahong before it became the seat of the colonial government of Spain when it officially controlled the Philippine Islands for over three centuries from 1565 to 1898. During the British occupation of the Philippines, the city was occupied by Great Britain for two years from 1762–1764 as part of the Seven Years War. The city remained the capital of the Philippines under the government of the provisional British governor, acting through the Archbishop of Manila and the Real Audiencia. Armed resistance to the British centred in Pampanga.

Manila also became famous during the Manila-Acapulco trade which lasted for three centuries and brought goods from as far as Mexico and Peru all the way to Southeast Asia.

In 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. Under the American control, the new government invited Daniel Burnham to plan a modern Manila. The Burnham Plan was a project that attempted to create Manila as Paris on the Prairie, with a vision of a government center occupying all of Wallace Field, which extends from Luneta to the present Taft Avenue. The Philippines Capitol was to rise on the Taft Avenue end of the field, facing toward the sea, and would form, with the buildings of different government bureaus and departments, a mighty quadrangle, lagoon in the center and a monument to Rizal at its Luneta end. Of Burnham’s proposed government center, only three units were built: the Legislative Building and the building of the Finance and Agricultural departments, which were completed on the eve of the War. By then, President Manuel L. Quezon had doomed the Burnham Plan by creating a new capital outside Manila, which was named after him, Quezon City

Manila was the site of the most fierce battle in the Pacific theater during the war. During the battle, Manila became a city of bloodbath in Asia where 100,000 civilians were killed. It was the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw during the Second World War. Since then the city has been rebuilt.

During the Marcos dictatorship, the Manila metropolitan area region was enacted as an independent entity in 1975 encompassing several cities and towns. During the Lacson era, also known as The Golden Age, Manila was revitalized and became once again the pearl of the orient, which Manila has earned before the outbreak of World War II.

On 1995, Alfredo Lim became the mayor, and was known for his anti-crime crusades. When Lim ran for the presidency during the 1998 general elections, Lito Atienza was elected as city mayor who continued the project of Mayor Alredo Lim. Atienza was known for renovating most of the city's plaza, and projects such as the Mahal ko si Lolo, Mahal ko si Lola, a project for the elderly citizens of the city. He was the Mayor of Manila for 3 terms (9 years). The current mayor, Alfredo Lim, who immediately reversed all of Atienza's project since stepping as a mayor, because according to Manilenyo's, Atienza's project made just a little contributions to the improvements of the city. Traffic, graft & corruptions darkened Manila for 9 years. On July 17, 2008, councilor Dennis Alcoreza, filed human rights complaints before the Commission on Human Rights, against Lim, and other Manila officials. Twenty four Manila officials also resigned because of the maltreatment of Lim's police forces. Mayor Alfredo S. Lim won against Secretary Lito Atienza last 2010 election, proving that the respect of MANILENYO for Mayor Lim is still intact. Hospitals, School, and Benefits are present on his Administration When Typhoon Ketsana battered the Philippines, 80% of the city was submerged with cars clogged up street by street with the district of Santa Mesa being the most devastated district due to its geographical location.



Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila bay. The Pasig river bisects the city in the middle. Almost all of the city sits on top of centuries of prehistoric alluvial deposits built by the waters of the Pasig river and on some land reclaimed from Manila bay. The city's land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since the American colonial times. Some of the natural variations in topography have been evened out due to the urbanization of the city. Manila lies 800 miles (1,300 km) from mainland Asia. The city occupies an area of 38.55 square kilometers and was divided into 897 barangays, the smallest unit of local government in the Philippines. Each barangay has its own chairperson and councilors. For administrative convenience, all the barangays in Manila are grouped into 100 zones and which are further grouped into 16 geographical districts. These zones and districts have no form of local government. These 16 geographical districts are further grouped into the six legislative districts of Manila.


Population density

Manila is the most densely populated city in the world with 43,079 inhabitants per km. District 6 is listed as being the most dense with 68,266 inhabitants per km, followed by the first two districts with 64,936 and 64,710, respectively, and district 5 being the least dense with 19,235.

Manila's population density dwarfs that of Kolkata (27,774 inhabitants per km), Mumbai (22,937 inhabitants per km), Paris (20,164 inhabitants per km), Dhaka (19,447 inhabitants per km), Shanghai (16,364 inhabitants per km), with its most dense district of Nanshi's 56,785 density), and Tokyo (10,087 inhabitants per km).

But when accounting for the entire urban area, Metro Manila drops to 60th place with 14,100 people/km in a land area of 1,425 km, which includes the area of Greater Manila Area.



The vernacular language is Filipino, based mostly on the Tagalog of surrounding areas, and this Manila form of speaking Tagalog has essentially become the lingua franca of the Philippines, having spread throughout the archipelago through mass media and entertainment. Meanwhile, English is the language most widely used in education and business throughout the Metro Manila region. A number of older residents can still speak basic Spanish, which was a mandatory subject in the curriculum of Philippine universities and colleges, and many children of European, Arab, Indian, Latin American, or other migrants or expatriates also speak their parents' languages at home, aside from English and/or Filipino for everyday use. Minnan Chinese (known as Lannang-oe) is spoken by the city's Chinese-Filipino community.


Culture and contemporary life


Manila, being the cultural home of the Philippines, houses notable museums. Bahay Tsinoy, one of Manila's most prominent museums, documents the Chinese lives and contributions in the history of the Philippines. The Intramuros Light and Sound Museum chronicles the Filipinos desire for freedom during the revolution under Rizal's leadership and other revolutionary leaders. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila exhibits the Filipino arts and culture. The Museum of Manila is the city-owned museum that exhibits the city's culture and history.

Manila also houses other notable museums in the country, namely the Museo Pambata, a children's museum, the Museum of Philippine Political History, which exhibits notable political events in the country, the National Museum of the Philippines (which includes the Museum of the Filipino People) of which exhibits life, culture and history of the country, the Parish of the Our Lady of the Abandoned and the San Agustin Church Museum, which houses religious artifacts, Plaza San Luis, a public museum, the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences and the DLS-CSB Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (mcad), both of which are university museums dedicated to science and technology, and contemporary art respectively.


The cosmopolitan atmosphere and cultural diversity of Manila is reflected in the number of places for worshipping throughout the city. The freedom of worship in the Philippines, which has existed since the creation of the republic, allowed the diverse population to build their sacred sites without the fear of persecution. People of different denominations are represented here with the presence of Christian churches, Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, and Islamic mosques.       

Roman Catholicism is the primary religion of the city. Almost all of the city's population are Roman Catholics. Manila is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, the oldest archdiocese in the country, and the Primate of the Philippines. The archdiocese's offices is located in the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Intramuros.

Manila is home to three other basilicas, besides the Manila Cathedral, namely, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian. 

Being the seat of the Spanish colonial government in past centuries, it has been used as the base of numerous Roman Catholic missions to the Philippines. Among the religious orders that have gone to the Philippines include the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Augustinian Recollects, the Benedictines, the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, the Vincentian Fathers, the Congregatio of the Immaculati Cordis Mariae, and the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

Other notable churches in the city include San Agustin Church in Intramuros, the shrine of the canonically crowned image of Nuestra Señora de Consolación y Correa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a favorite wedding place of notable people and one of two fully air-conditioned churches in the city; the Binondo Church, also known as Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz; Malate Church, the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Remedios; Ermita Church, home of the oldest Marian Image in the Philippines, Nuestra Señora de Guia; Tondo Church, home of the century-old ivory image of Sto. Niño (Child Jesus); and Sta. Ana Church, shrine of the canonically crowned image of Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados.

Protestantism is the second largest religion in the city. Manila is the site of some of the older and larger Protestant churches in the Philippines. While most of the older churches established by American missionaries are located within the city's limits, a greater number of the larger churches are located in the suburbs and satellite cities.

After the Second World War, a great influx of foreign Protestant missionaries came to the islands among which are the Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. They established churches and schools throughout the islands making Manila their headquarters of operations. The Bible Baptist had also established places of worship throughout the city.

Aside from the Evangelical Christians, Manila is also the home of most of the country's Mainline Protestants. The Pro-Cathedral of the Saint Stephen, the center of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is also found in the city. The mainly Ilocano revolutionary church Iglesia Filipina Independiente is headquartered in the city. Both of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente belong to the Anglican Communion.

The largest entirely indigenous Christian church in the Philippines, and the largest independent church in Asia, the Iglesia ni Cristo has its base in the city. Iglesia has numerous chapels and churches across the city, notable for their narrow-pointed spires.

The city also hosts other faiths. There are many Buddhist and Taoist temples built by the Chinese community in Manila. The Quiapo district is home to a sizable Muslim population in Manila, where Masjid Al-Dahab is located. There is also a large Hindu temple for the Indian population, and a Sikh Temple was also erected. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a temple within the city. There once was a synagogue in Malate for the small Jewish community in the Philippines; a new synagogue has since been erected in neighboring city of Makati, along Tordesillas Street.



Tourism is vital to Manila, with over 1 million tourist visiting annually. The city has been one of the premiere tourist destinations in the East. Within Manila lies several notable landmarks in the Philippines which are very popular tourist destinations, such as the 1322 Golden Empire at Roxas Boulevard, the Apolinario Mabini Shrine, Bahay Tsinoy, Basilica of San Sebastian, the Baywalk, Chinatown, Coconut Palace, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Districts of Ermita and Malate, DLS-CSB Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design, Embassy of the United States in Manila, Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Malacañang Palace, Malate Church, Manila Boardwalk, Manila Cathedral, Manila City Hall, The Manila Hotel, Manila Ocean Park, Manila Central Post Office, Manila Yacht Club, Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Metropolitan Theater, Museo Pambata, the Museum of Manila, The Museum of Philippine Political History, National Library of the Philippines, National Museum of the Philippines (including the Museum of the Filipino People), Paco Park, Parish of the Our Lady of the Abandoned, Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz, Plaza Miranda, Quiapo Church, Quirino Grandstand, Rajah Sulayman Plaza, Remedios Circle, Rizal Park, Robinsons Place Manila, San Agustin Church, the San Agustin Church Museum, SM City Manila, SM City San Lazaro, SM City Santa Mesa, The Supreme Court of the Philippines, UST Museum of Arts and Sciences and the Victims of Martial Law Memorial Wall-Bonifacio Shrine. Manila also host several sporting venues including the national sporting venue, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the city-owned San Andrés Gym.

Following the hijacking of a Hong Kong tourist bus in August 2010, and the subsequent botched police rescue attempt which ended with the deaths of eight of the hostages, the tourism industry suffered a significant setback with the cancellation of flight bookings from China & Hong Kong, plus the issuing of a travel advisory from the Hong Kong SAR Government advising against all travel to the Philippines.



Manila's mixture of architectural styles reflects the turbulent history of the city and country. Most of Manila's historical structures were wiped out during its liberation. After the battle, Manila was rebuilt and some of the historical buildings were reconstructed. The current urban landscape of Manila is one of modern and contemporary architecture.


         The current mayor for the 2007–2010 term is Alfredo Lim, who is making a comeback following a three-year stint as a Senator. The city mayor is restricted to three consecutive terms, totaling nine years, although a mayor can be elected again after an interruption of one term. Isko Moreno is the city's incumbent vice-mayor. The vice-mayor heads the legislative arm composed of the elected city councilors, six from each of the city's six legislative districts. Current district representatives of the city are Benjamin Asilo, representing the 1st District, Carlo Lopez for the 2nd District, Zenaida Angping for the 3rd District, Trisha Bonoan – David for the 4th District, Amado Bagatsing in the 5th District and Rosenda Ann Ocampo in the 6th District.

      Manila being the seat of political power of the Philippines, has several national government offices headquartered at the city. Planning for the development for being the center of government started during the early years of American colonialization to the country when they envisioned a well designed city outside the walls of Intramuros. The strategic location chosen was Bagumbayan, a former town which is now the Rizal Park to become the center of government and a design commission was given to Daniel Burnham to create a master plan for the city patterned after Washington D.C.. These improvements were and eventually abandoned under the Commonwealth Government of Manuel L. Quezon. A new government center was to be built on the hills northeast of Manila, or what is now Quezon City. Several government agencies have set-up their headquarters in Quezon City but several key government offices still resides in Manila. However, many of the plans were substantially altered after the devastation of Manila during World War II and the subsequent administrations.

       The city, as the Official Capital, still hosts the Office of the President. Aside from these, important institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Departments of Budget and Management, Finance, Health, Justice, Labor and Employment, and Tourism still call the city home. Manila also hosts important national institutions such as the National Library, National Archives, National Museum and the Philippine General Hospital.

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