Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines

Early history | Contemporary period (1986–present) | Geography | Barangays and districts | Economy | Tourist Industry | Economy : Retail

🇵🇭 Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital of the Philippines, and its second most populous city. It is highly urbanised and as of 2019 was the world's most densely populated city proper.

Manila, is considered one of the world's original set of Global Cities because Manila's commercial networks were the first to extend across the Pacific Ocean and connect Asia with Europe and the Spanish Americas. When this was accomplished, it marked the first time in world history that an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circling the planet had been established. Manila is the second most natural-disaster-afflicted capital city in the world and among the most populous and fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia.

By 1258, a Tagalog-fortified polity called Maynila existed on the site of modern Manila. On June 24, 1571, after the defeat of the polity's last indigenous Rajah Sulayman III in the Battle of Bangkusay, Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi began constructing the walled fortification Intramuros on the ruins of an older settlement from whose name the Spanish-and-English name Manila derives. Manila was used as the capital of the captaincy general of the Spanish East Indies, which included the Marianas, Guam and other islands, and was controlled and administered for the Spanish crown by Mexico City in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, Manila has many historic sites.

In modern times, the name "Manila" is commonly used to refer to the whole metropolitan area, the greater metropolitan area, and the city proper. Metro Manila, the officially defined metropolitan area, is the capital region of the Philippines, and includes the much-larger Quezon City and Makati Central Business District. It is the most-populous region in the country, one of the most-populous urban areas in the world, and one of the wealthiest regions in Southeast Asia. The city proper is the historic core of a built-up area that extends well beyond its administrative limits. With 71,263 people per square kilometer, Manila is the most densely populated city proper in the world. 

The Pasig River flows through the middle of the city, dividing it into north and south sections. The city comprises 16 administrative districts and is divided into six political districts for the purposes of representation in the Congress of the Philippines and the election of city council members.


Early history The earliest evidence of human life around present-day Manila is the nearby Angono Petroglyphs, which are dated to around 3000 BC. Negritos, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, lived across the island of Luzon, where Manila is located, before Malayo-Polynesians arrived and assimilated them.

Manila was an active trade partner with the Song and Yuan dynasties of China.

The polity of Tondo flourished during the latter half of the Ming dynasty as a result of direct trade relations with China. Tondo district was the traditional capital of the empire and its rulers were sovereign kings rather than chieftains. Tondo was named using traditional Chinese characters in the Hokkien reading, Chinese: 東都; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tong-to͘; lit. 'Eastern Capital', due to its chief position south-east of China. The kings of Tondo were addressed as panginoón in Tagalog ("lords") or panginuan in Maranao; anák banwa ("son of heaven"); or lakandula ("lord of the palace"). The Emperor of China considered the lakans—the rulers of ancient Manila—"王" (kings).

During the 12th century, then-Hindu Brunei called "Pon-i", as reported in the Chinese annals Nanhai zhi, invaded Malilu 麻裏蘆 (present-day Manila) as it also administered Sarawak and Sabah, as well as the Philippine kingdoms Butuan, Sulu, Ma-i (Mindoro), Shahuchong 沙胡重 (present-day Siocon), Yachen 啞陳 (Oton), and 文杜陵 Wenduling (present-day Mindanao). Manila regained independence. In the 13th century, Manila consisted of a fortified settlement and trading quarter on the shore of the Pasig River. It was then settled by the Indianized empire of Majapahit, according to the epic eulogy poem Nagarakretagama, which described the area's conquest by Maharaja Hayam Wuruk. Selurong (षेलुरोङ्), a historical name for Manila, is listed in Canto 14 alongside Sulot – which is now Sulu – and Kalka. Selurong, together with Sulot, was able to regain independence afterward, and Sulu attacked and looted the then-Majapahit-invaded province Po-ni (Brunei) in retribution.

During the reign of the Arab emir, Sultan Bolkiah – Sharif Ali's descendant – from 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei which had seceded from Hindu Majapahit and converted to Islam, had invaded the area. The Bruneians wanted to take advantage of Tondo's strategic position in trade with China and Indonesia; they attacked the region and established the rajahnate of Maynilà (كوتا سلودوڠ; Kota Seludong). The rajahnate was ruled under Brunei and gave yearly tribute as a satellite state. It created a new dynasty under the local leader, who accepted Islam and became Rajah Salalila or Sulaiman I. He established a trading challenge to the already rich House of Lakan Dula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival of Muslim traders from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


Contemporary period (1986–present) From 1986 to 1992, Mel Lopez was mayor of Manila, first due to Presidential designation, before being elected in 1988. In 1992, Alfredo Lim was elected mayor, the first Chinese-Filipino to hold the office. He was known for his anti-crime crusades. Lim was succeeded by Lito Atienza, who served as his vice mayor, and was known for his campaign and slogun "Buhayin ang Maynila" (Revive Manila), which saw the establishment of several parks, and the repair and rehabilitation of the city's deteriorating facilities. He was the city's mayor for nine years before being termed out of office. Lim once again ran for mayor and defeated Atienza's son Ali in the 2007 city election, and immediately reversed all of Atienza's projects, which he said made little contribution to the improvements of the city. The relationship of both parties turned bitter, with them both contesting the 2010 city elections, which Lim won. Lim was sued by councilor Dennis Alcoreza on 2008 over human rights, he was charged with graft over the rehabilitation of public schools.

In 2012, DMCI Homes began constructing Torre de Manila, which became controversial for ruining the sight line of Rizal Park. The tower became known as "Terror de Manila" and the "national photobomber", and became a sensationalized heritage issue. In 2017, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines erected a "comfort woman" statue on Roxas Boulevard, causing Japan to express regret about the statue's erection despite the healthy relationship between Japan and the Philippines.

In the 2013 election, former President Joseph Estrada succeeded Lim as the city's mayor. During his term, Estrada allegedly paid ₱5 billion in city debts and increased the city's revenues. In 2015, in line with President Noynoy Aquino's administration progress, the city became the most-competitive city in the Philippines. In the 2016 elections, Estrada narrowly won over Lim. Throughout Estrada's term, numerous Filipino heritage sites were demolished, gutted, or approved for demolition; these include the post-war Santa Cruz Building, Capitol Theater, El Hogar, Magnolia Ice Cream Plant, and Rizal Memorial Stadium. Some of these sites were saved after the intervention of governmental cultural agencies and heritage advocate groups. In May 2019, Estrada said Manila was debt-free; two moths later, however, the Commission on Audit said Manila was 4.4 billion pesos in debt.

Skyline of Manila as seen from Harbour Square.

Estrada, who was seeking for re-election for his third and final term, lost to Isko Moreno in the 2019 local elections. Moreno has served as the vice mayor under both Lim and Estrada. Estrada's defeat was seen as the end of their reign as a political clan, whose other family members run for national and local positions. After assuming office, Moreno initiated a city-wide cleanup of illegal vendors, signed an executive order promoting open governance, and vowed to stop bribery and corruption in the city. Under his administration, several ordinances were signed, giving additional perks and privileges to Manila's elderly people, and monthly allowances for Grade 12 Manileño students in all public schools in the city, including students of Universidad de Manila and the University of the City of Manila.

In 2022, Time Out ranked Manila in 34th position in its list of the 53 best cities in the world, citing it as "an underrated hub for art and culture, with unique customs and cuisine to boot". Manila was also voted the third-most-resilient and least-rude city for the year's index.


Geography The City of Manila is situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, on the western coast of Luzon, 1,300 km (810 mi) from mainland Asia. The protected harbor on which Manila lies is regarded as the finest in Asia. The Pasig River flows through the middle of city, dividing it into north and south. The overall grade of the city's central, built-up areas is relatively consistent with the natural flatness of the natural geography, generally exhibiting only slight differentiation.

Almost all of Manila sits on top prehistoric alluvial deposits built by the waters of the Pasig River and on land reclaimed from Manila Bay. Manila's land has been substantially altered by human intervention; there has been considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since the early-to-mid twentieth century. Some of the city's natural variations in topography have been leveled. As of 2013, Manila had a total area of 42.88 square km (16.56 sq mi).

In 2017, the City Government approved five reclamation projects; the New Manila Bay–City of Pearl (New Manila Bay International Community) (407.43 hectares; 1,006.8 acres), Solar City (148 hectares; 370 acres), Manila Harbour Center expansion (50 hectares; 120 acres), Manila Waterfront City (318 hectares; 790 acres), and Horizon Manila (419 hectares; 1,040 acres). Of the five planned projects, only Horizon Manila was approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority in December 2019 and was scheduled for construction in 2021. Another reclamation project is possible and when built, it will include in-city housing relocation projects. Environmental activists and the Catholic Church have criticized the land reclamation projects, saying they are not sustainable and would put communities at risk of flooding. In line of the upcoming reclamation projects, the Philippines and the Netherlands agreed to a cooperation on the ₱250 million Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan to oversee future decisions on projects on Manila Bay.


Barangays and districts Manila is made up of 897 barangays, which are grouped into 100 zones for statistical convenience. Manila has the most barangays of any metropolis in the Philippines. Due to a failure to hold a plebiscite, attempts at reducing its number have not succeeded despite local legislation—Ordinance 7907, passed on April 23, 1996—reducing the number from 896 to 150 by merging existing barangays. • District I (2020 population: 441,282) covers the western part of Tondo and is made up of 136 barangays. It is the most-densely populated Congressional District and was also known as Tondo I. The district includes one of the biggest urban-poor communities. Smokey Mountain on Balut Island was once known as the country's largest landfill where thousands of impoverished people lived in slums. After the closure of the landfill in 1995, mid-rise housing was built on the site. This district also contains the Manila North Harbor Center, Manila North Harbor, and Manila International Container Terminal of the Port of Manila. The boundaries of the 1st District are the neighboring cities Navotas and the southern enclave of Caloocan. • District II (2020 population: 212,938) covers the eastern part of Tondo and contains 122 barangays. It is also referred to as Tondo II. It includes Gagalangin, a prominent place in Tondo, and Divisoria, a popular shopping area and the site of the Main Terminal Station of the Philippine National Railways. The boundary of the 2nd District is the neighboring city Caloocan. • District III (2020 population: 220,029) covers Binondo, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Santa Cruz. It contains 123 barangays and includes "Downtown Manila", the historic business district of the city, and the oldest Chinatown in the world. The boundary of the 3rd District is the neighboring city Quezon City. • District IV (2020 population: 277,013) covers Sampaloc and some parts of Santa Mesa. It contains 192 barangays and has numerous colleges and universities, which were located along the city's "University Belt", a de facto sub-district. The University of Santo Tomas, the oldest-existing university in Asia, which was established in 1611. The boundaries of the 4th District are the neighboring cities San Juan and Quezon City. • District V (2020 population: 395,065) covers Ermita, Malate, Port Area, Intramuros, San Andres Bukid, and a portion of Paco. It is made up of 184 barangays. The historic Walled City is located here, along with Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boundaries of the 5th District are the neighboring cities Makati and Pasay. This district also includes the Manila South Cemetery, an exclave surrounded by Makati City. • District VI (2020 population: 300,186) covers Pandacan, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Santa Mesa, and a portion of Paco. It contains 139 barangays. Santa Ana district is known for its 18th Century Santa Ana Church and historic ancestral houses. The boundaries of the 6th District are the neighboring cities Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, and San Juan.


Economy Manila is a major centre for commerce, banking and finance, retailing, transportation, tourism, real estate, new media, traditional media, advertising, legal services, accounting, insurance, theater, fashion, and the arts. Around 60,000 establishments operate in the city.

The National Competitiveness Council of the Philippines, which annually publishes the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), ranks the country's cities, municipalities, and provinces according to their economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure. According to the 2022 CMCI, Manila was the second-most-competitive highly urbanized city in the Philippines. Manila held the title of the country's most-competitive city in 2015, and since then has been in the top three, denoting Manila is consistently one of the best place to live in and do business.

The Port of Manila is the largest seaport in the Philippines and the main international shipping route into the country. The Philippine Ports Authority oversees the operation and management of the country's ports. International Container Terminal Services Inc., according to the Asian Development Bank, is one of the top-five major maritime terminal operators in the world, and has its headquarters and main operations at the Port of Manila. Another port operator, Asian Terminal Incorporated, has its corporate office and main operations at Manila South Harbor, and its container depository is in Santa Mesa. Manila is classified as a Medium-Port Megacity, using the Southampton system for port-city classification.

Binondo, the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, was the centre of commerce and business activities in the city. Numerous residential and office skyscrapers occupy its medieval streets. As of 2013, plans by the city government of Manila to turn the Chinatown area into a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub were in progress; thirty unoccupied buildings had been already identified for conversion into BPO offices. Most of these buildings are on Escolta Street, Binondo.

Manufacturers within the city produce industrial-related products such as chemicals, textiles, clothing, electronic goods, food, beverages, and tobacco products. Local businesses process primary commodities for export, including rope, plywood, refined sugar, copra, and coconut oil. The food-processing industry is one of the most-stable manufacturing sector in the city.

Pandacan oil depot houses the storage facilities and distribution terminals of Caltex Philippines, Pilipinas Shell, and Petron Corporation; the major players in the country's petroleum industry. The oil depot has been a subject of various concerns, including its environmental and health impact on the residents of Manila. The Supreme Court of Manila|Supreme Court]] ordered the oil depot to be relocated outside the city by July 2015, but it failed to meet this deadline. Most of the oil depot facility inside the 33-hectare (82-acre) compound were demolished, and plans have been made to convert it into a transport hub or food park.

Manila is a major publishing centre of the Philippines. Manila Bulletin, the Philippines' largest broadsheet newspaper by circulation, is headquartered in Intramuros. Other major publishing companies in the country The Manila Times, The Philippine Star, and Manila Standard Today are headquartered in the Port Area. The Chinese Commercial News, the Philippines' oldest existing Chinese-language newspaper, and the country's third-oldest newspaper, is headquartered in Binondo. DWRK used to have its studio at the FEMS Tower 1 along South Superhighway in Malate before transferring to the MBC Building at the CCP Complex in 2008.

Manila serves as the headquarters of the Central Bank of the Philippines, which is located on Roxas Boulevard. The Landbank of the Philippines and Philippine Trust Company also have their headquarters in Manila. Unilever Philippines used to have its corporate office on United Nations Avenue in Paco before transferring to Bonifacio Global City in 2016. Vehicle manufacturer Toyota also has its regional office on UN Avenue.


Tourist Industry Manila welcomes over one million tourists each year. Major tourist destinations include the historic Walled City of Intramuros, the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, Manila Ocean Park, Binondo (Chinatown), Ermita, Malate, Manila Zoo, the National Museum Complex, and Rizal Park. Both the historic Walled City of Intramuros and Rizal Park were designated as flagship destinations and as tourism enterprise zones in the Tourism Act of 2009.

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is a national park and the largest urban park in Asia. with an area of 58 hectares (140 acres), The park was constructed to honor of the country's national hero José Rizal, who was executed by the Spaniards on charges of subversion. The flagpole west of the Rizal Monument is the Kilometer Zero marker for distances to locations across the country. The park is managed by the National Parks and Development Committee.

The 0.67-square-kilometer (0.26 sq mi) Walled City of Intramuros is the historic centre of Manila. It is administered by the Intramuros Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism. It contains Manila Cathedral and the 18th Century San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kalesa is a popular mode of transportation for tourists in Intramuros and nearby places including Binondo, Ermita and Rizal Park. Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, was established in 1521 and served as a hub of Chinese commerce before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. Its main attractions are Binondo Church, Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Seng Guan Buddhist Temple, and authentic Chinese restaurants.

Manila is designated as the country's leading destination for medical tourism, which is estimated to annually generate $1 billion in revenue. Lack of a progressive health system, inadequate infrastructure, and the unstable political environment are seen as hindrances to its growth.


Economy: Retail Manila is regarded as one of the best shopping destinations in Asia. Major shopping malls, department stores, markets, supermarkets, and bazaars are located within the city.

Divisoria in Tondo has been locally described as a "shopping mecca" of Manila. Shopping malls sell goods at bargain prices. Small vendors occupy several roads, causing pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A well-known landmark in Divisoria is the Tutuban Center, a large shopping mall that is a part of the Philippine National Railways' Main Station. It attracts 1 million people every month and is expected to add another 400,000 people upon the completion of the LRT Line 2 West Extension, making it Manila's busiest transfer station. Another "lifestyle mall" is Lucky Chinatown. There are almost 1 million shoppers in Divisoria according to the Manila Police District.

Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, is the city's centre of commerce and trade for all types of businesses run by Filipino-Chinese merchants, with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Quiapo is referred to as the "Old Downtown", where tiangges, markets, boutique shops, music and electronics stores are common. Many department stores are on Recto Avenue.

Robinsons Place Manila is Manila's largest shopping mall. The mall was the second and the largest Robinsons Malls built. SM Supermalls operates the shopping malls SM City Manila and SM City San Lazaro. SM City Manila is located on the former site of YMCA Manila beside Manila City Hall in Ermita, while SM City San Lazaro is built on the site of the former San Lazaro Hippodrome in Santa Cruz. The building of the former Manila Royal Hotel in Quiapo, which is known for its revolving restaurant, is now the SM Clearance Center and was established in 1972. The site of the first SM Department Store is Carlos Palanca Sr. (formerly Echague) Street in San Miguel.

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines 
<b>Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines</b>
Image: Adobe Stock hit1912 #261425074

Manila is rated Alpha − by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Alpha level cities are linked to major economic states and regions and into the world economy.

Manila is the #95 city in the world according to the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) which evaluates and ranks the competitiveness of the major financial centres of the world according to a wide range of criteria – Human Capital, Business, Finance, Infrastructure and Reputation.

Manila is ranked #188 and rated D+ by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. D+ cities are strong regional hub cities. Manila was ranked #73 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Manila has a population of over 1,780,148 people. Manila also forms the centre of the wider Manila City which has a population of over 1,846,513 people. It is also a part of the larger Metro Manila area. Manila is ranked #87 for startups with a score of 5.948.

To set up a UBI Lab for Manila see: Twitter:

The Climate Emergency means that Manila may be at risk of flooding by rising sea levels by 2035

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Manila has links with:

🇲🇽 Acapulco, Mexico 🇰🇿 Astana, Kazakhstan 🇵🇭 Bacoor, Philippines 🇹🇭 Bangkok, Thailand 🇨🇳 Beijing, China 🇷🇴 Bucharest, Romania 🇵🇭 Cabanatuan City, Philippines 🇵🇭 Cebu City, Philippines 🇨🇳 Changning, China 🇨🇳 Cheongwen, China 🇪🇸 Coslada, Spain 🇵🇭 Davao, Philippines 🇹🇱 Díli, Timor-Leste 🇨🇳 Fuzhou, China 🇨🇳 Guangzhou, China 🇮🇱 Haifa, Israel 🇻🇳 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 🇺🇸 Honolulu, USA 🇰🇷 Incheon, South Korea 🇮🇩 Jakarta, Indonesia 🇵🇭 Lipa, Philippines 🇵🇹 Lisbon, Portugal 🇪🇸 Madrid, Spain 🇨🇦 Montreal, Canada 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 🇨🇳 Nansha District, China 🇯🇵 Nantan, Japan 🇫🇷 Nice, France 🇯🇵 Ōsaka, Japan 🇨🇳 Qingpu District, China 🇺🇸 Sacramento, USA 🇨🇴 Santiago de Cali, Colombia 🇨🇳 Shanghai, China 🇨🇳 Shunyi, China 🇯🇵 Takatsuki, Japan 🇮🇷 Tehran, Iran 🇺🇸 Wailuku, USA 🇯🇵 Yokohama, Japan
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license | GFCI | GaWC | GUCR | Nomad | StartupBlink

  • James Cumming Wynnes |

    🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Architect James Cumming Wynnes is associated with Manila. Wynnes was elected a Fellow of the RIBA in 1914.

Antipodal to Manila is: -59.019,-14.589

Locations Near: Manila 120.981,14.5893

🇵🇭 Pasay 121.004,14.547 d: 5.4  

🇵🇭 Mandaluyong City 121.03,14.58 d: 5.4  

🇵🇭 San Juan 121.03,14.6 d: 5.4  

🇵🇭 Makati 121.021,14.559 d: 5.5  

🇵🇭 San Juan City 121.03,14.604 d: 5.5  

🇵🇭 Makati City 121.021,14.557 d: 5.6  

🇵🇭 Caloocan City 120.97,14.65 d: 6.9  

🇵🇭 Caloocan 120.972,14.652 d: 7  

🇵🇭 Mandaluyong 121.047,14.595 d: 7.1  

🇵🇭 Navotas 120.95,14.661 d: 8.6  

Antipodal to: Manila -59.019,-14.589

🇧🇷 Tangará da Serra -57.491,-14.621 d: 19850.6  

🇧🇷 Vilhena -60.11,-12.708 d: 19774.9  

🇧🇷 Várzea Grande -56.139,-15.652 d: 19684.2  

🇧🇷 Cuiabá -56.096,-15.596 d: 19681.9  

🇧🇷 Lucas do Rio Verde -55.917,-13.067 d: 19639.8  

🇧🇷 Sorriso -55.7,-12.533 d: 19589.7  

🇧🇷 Cacoal -61.447,-11.439 d: 19577  

🇧🇷 Sinop -55.633,-11.833 d: 19537.4  

🇧🇷 Corumbá -57.65,-19 d: 19503.5  

🇧🇷 Ji-Paraná -61.941,-10.881 d: 19495.1  

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