Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital of the Philippines and the most densely populated city proper in the world. It was the first chartered City by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the “Revised Charter of the City of Manila” on June 18, 1949.
The Spanish City of Manila was founded on June 24, 1571, by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, which was regarded as the official foundation date of the city. Manila was also the seat of power for most of the country’s colonial rulers. It is the home to many historic sites, some of which were built during the 16th century. In 2016, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network listed Manila as an alpha- global city. The city proper is home to 1,780,148 people in 2015, and is the historic core of a built-up area that extends well beyond its administrative limits. The term “Manila” is commonly used to refer to the whole metropolitan area, the greater metropolitan area or the city proper. The officially-defined metropolitan area called Metro Manila, the capital region of the Philippines, includes the much larger Quezon City and the Makati Central Business District. It is the most populous region of the country, one of the most populous urban areas in the world, and is one of the wealthiest regions in Southeast Asia. With 71,263 people per square kilometer, Manila is also the most densely populated city proper in the world.
Due to industrial waste and automobiles, Manila suffers from air pollution, affecting 98% of the population. Annually, the air pollution causes more than 4,000 deaths. Ermita is Manila’s most air polluted district due to open dump sites and industrial waste. According to a report in 2003, the Pasig River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world with 150 tons of domestic waste and 75 tons of industrial waste dumped daily.
Annually, Manila is hit with 5 to 7 typhoons creating floods. In 2009, Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) struck the Philippines. In its aftermath, the lack of infrastructure led to one of the worst floodings in the Philippines and creating a significant amount of pollution. Following the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, the city began to dredge its rivers and improve its drainage network. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is in charge of cleaning up the Pasig River and tributaries for transportation, recreation and tourism purposes. Rehabilitation efforts have resulted in the creation of parks along the riverside, along with stricter pollution controls.
The City of Manila is located on the eastern shores of the Manila Bay in one of the finest harbors in the country. The Pasig River flows through the middle of the city, dividing it into the north and south. Manila is made up of 16 districts: Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo. Manila is also made up of Six Congressional Districts that represents the city on the Lower House of the Philippine Congress.
Manila welcomes over 1 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 a tourism enterprise zones in the Tourism Act of 2009.
Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is the national park and the largest urban park in Asia with an area of 58 hectares (140 acres), The park was constructed as an honor and dedication to 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 the rest of the country. The park was managed by the National Parks and Development Committee.
The 0.67 square kilometers (0.26 sq mi) Walled City of Intramuros is the historic center of Manila. It is administered by the Intramuros Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism. It contains the famed 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. Known as the oldest chinatown in the world, Binondo was established on 1521 and it was already a hub of Chinese commerce even 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 pioneer of medical tourism, expecting it to generate $1 billion in revenue annually. However, lack of progressive health system, inadequate infrastructure and the unstable political environment are seen as hindrances for its growth.