Manila, the Philippines, the nation's capital and second largest city. It is on Luzon island where the Pasig River enters Manila Bay, some 800 miles (1,300 km) from the Asian mainland. Manila is a cosmopolitan city that blends its native Filipino culture with various foreign cultural elements; Spanish, American, and Chinese influences are especially noticeable. The city and its suburbs form a governmental unit called Metro Manila. Among the chief suburbs are Quezon City, which was the national capital from 1948 to 1976; Caloocan; Pasay; and Makati, Metro Manila's chief business district.
Manila has the country's chief port and Metro Manila is the center of most of the commercial, industrial, and cultural activities in the Philippines. It is also the main center of international and interisland air and sea transportation. Among the many industrial activities are the processing of foods and beverages; the making of textiles, clothing, tobacco products, rubber goods, drugs, chemicals, and wood, hemp, and paper products; and automobile assembly.
The downtown of Manila proper is situated at the mouth of the Pasig River, site of the port. Just inland on the river's north bank is the Escolta, the city's principal shopping and commercial district. Nearby is Chinatown, with its many shops and restaurants. Further inland and also on the north bank is the Malacañang Palace, former residence of the president of the Philippines. The palace now houses a museum. On the south bank of the Pasig is the Intramuros, site of a walled city built by the Spanish after 1571. The Intramuros was virtually destroyed near the end of World War II. About all that remains are sections of the walls and a number of gates; the venerated Church of St. Augustine, begun in 1599; and the ruins of old Fort Santiago. Also in the Intramuros is the reconstructed Manila Cathedral.
South of the Intramuros are the Ermita district, the most modern part of the city, and Rizal Park. The park, overlooked by the capitol, is a broad landscaped expanse with a memorial to José Rizal, martyred hero of the Philippine revolution against Spain. Other attractions in the park include a planetarium and Japanese and Chinese gardens. The Ermita contains government and office buildings, embassies, and hotels. South of the Ermita is the Philippine Cultural Center, a complex for the performing arts.
In Manila and its suburbs are many universities and colleges. Among them are the University of Santo Tomás, founded 1611; the University of the Philippines, 1908; the Philippine Women's University, 1919; the Far Eastern University, 1928; and the University of the East, 1946.
Manila was founded by the Spanish conqueror Miguel López de Legazpi in 1571. The site had earlier been occupied by a fortified Muslim village. Manila grew as a center of Spanish colonial trade and missionary work. It was occupied by the British, 1762-63, and was captured by United States forces in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The city expanded rapidly under United States occupation and became known as the “Pearl of the Orient” because of its beauty and importance.
During World War II Manila was heavily bombed by the Japanese, who occupied it in January, 1942. The month-long battle that preceded its recapture by United States troops in 1945 left Manila in ruins. Reconstruction was accompanied by rapid population growth, especially in the suburbs. The city was at the the center of the revolt that toppled the Marcos regime in 1986.