Manila is one of seventeen cities that make up the area of Metro Manila and is the capital of the Philippines. It covers an area of fifteen square miles and has a population of over one and a half million people. Manila is the eleventh largest metropolitan area in the world and the fifth largest urban area in the world as classified by population. The city also happens to be one of the most densely populated urban areas on the face of the planet. Manila is about four hundred and fifty miles southeast of Hong Kong, more than a thousand miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur and twelve hundred miles northeast of Singapore. The city is borded by a number of cities in the metropolitan area. These include Caloocan and Navotas to the north, Mandaluyong and San Juan to the east, and Pasay to the south. The city of Manila was the colonial seat of Spain for over three centuries. Between 1762 and 1764, the British Empire controlled the city. During this time, Manila was the capital of the Philippines. In 1899, the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain.
The educational needs of the city is serviced by several institutions of higher learning. These include the University of the Philippines, Philippine Women’s University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, University of Santo Tomas, San Beda College, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Adamson University, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Philippine Normal University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, University of the East, Mapúa Institute of Technology, College of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Technological University of the Philippines, Centro Escolar University, Far Eastern University, San Sebastian College, Philippine Christian University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila at Intramuros.
Manila has a strong and diverse economy. Manufacturing activities in the city include electronics, clothing, textiles and chemicals. Other industries in the city include iron, steel, shoe manufacturing, food production, tobacco and leather products. Because of its enclosed harbor, the city is also the country’s main sea port. Manila is also the publishing hub for the entire country. One of the city’s strongest economic activities however, is tourism. Due to the natural beauty of the country, its rich cultural heritage and the many attractions that are located in the city, Manila attracts over one million tourists each year. The city also has a population rate that is growing at a high rate, and Manila’s population is expected to exceed the population of Singapore by the year 2020.
A popular attraction in Manila is San Agustin Church. San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholic church that was built in 1607, making it the oldest church in the country. This church is two hundred and one feet long, and seventy-five feet wide. The facade is simple, but has Baroque touches added. In the courtyard of the church are lion sculptures made of granite. The inside of the church is shaped like a Latin cross and the church has fourteen side chapels. The ceiling was painted in 1875 by Giovanni Dibella and Cesare Alberoni. Also located in the church are the tombs of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Martín de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo.
Another prominent attraction in the city of Manila is Fort Santiago. This fort was built by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish conquistador. This fort was built on the ruins of the palace of a Muslim chieftain named Rajah Suleiman. When the Spanish entered the area, they engaged in several battles with the Islamic natives and the Spanish ended up destroying the palace in 1570. A year later, Fort Santiago was erected. The original fort was composed of logs and earth. It was destroyed during the Spanish Chinese War. In 1589, Fort Santiago was rebuilt, this time using stone. It was completed within three years. Santiago Fort has twenty-two feet high walls that are eight feet thick. The fort has a entrance that is forty feet high.
Avilon Zoo is another must see attraction in Manila. This zoo was opened in 2003 and is situated on seven and a half hectares of land. The zoo has over three thousand animals taken from six hundred species. Avilon Zoo has multiple departments which include Herpetology, Arachnology, Ichthyology, Ornithology, Mammalogy, Wildlife Nursery, Rearing Department, Veterinary Medicine, Quarantine Department, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Animal Nutrition Department and the Leisure and Recreation Department. Animals that are located at this zoo include Civet Cats, Philippine Pond Turtles, Canadian Bobcats, Argentinean Capybaras, Malaysian Tapirs, Luzon Cloud Rats, Mindanao Hornbills, Palawan Porcupines, Burmese Rock Pythons, Orangutans, Tigers, Mouse Deer, Tarantulas, Palawan Badgers, Philippine Sail-fin Lizards and Palawan Pangolin.
A popular attraction in the city is the Manila Ocean Park. This park was built in 2008 and has an eighty-six thousand square foot oceanarium. It also has an eighty-two foot underwater acrylic tunnel that allows visitors to get up close and personal with the fish. Exhibits located here include Agos-a rainforest exhibit with eight freshwater tanks, Bahura-an exhibit featuring artificial coral reefs in forty-eight tanks, Laot-an exhibit that has a long tank containing sting rays, Kalaliman-an exhibit that contains native marine animals of the Philippines, Pating-a shark exhibit, and Buhay na Karagatan. Buhay na Karagatan is the key feature of the oceanarium and has a seventy-five foot tunnel with a two hundred and twenty degree curved acrylic walls.
Other attractions in the city include Corregidor Island, Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Robinsons Place Mall, Quiapo Church, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monastery of Saint Agustin, Old Congress Building, Malate Church, Greenbelt Park, Coconut Palace, Manila Bay, San Miguel Church, Pistang Pilipino, Binondo Church, Intramuros, National Museum of the Philippines, Father Blanco’s Garden, Museo Pambata, Manila Cathedral, Paco Park, San Sebastian Church, Club Intramuros Golf Course, Remedios Circle, Hidden Valley Tour, Pasig River, Malacanang Palace & Museum, Mindoro Beach, Santuario de San Antonio, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Taal Volcano, Philippine International Convention Center, Everest Hills Memorial Park and Manila Hotel.