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Manila by numbers

by Jillian CariolaPublished: April 25, 2017Updated: April 26, 2017

In celebration of the capital city’s upcoming 446th foundation year, here are some facts and figures about Manila

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila City HallManila City Hall. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

On June 24, 2017, Manila will be celebrating the446th year of its foundation as a city. Manilenos will most likely mark the event with citywide parties, contests and other events. But what better way to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of our nation’s capital by looking at the milestones that have played a large part in making it what it is today? Here is a look at numbers that may seem random, but add up to the rich and colorful history of Manila.


The year the Spaniards founded Manila

It was nearly 446 years ago when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi founded Manila, making it one of the oldest cities of the Philippines. It would become the seat of the Spanish colonial government that ruled over the islands until 1898.

Three centuries later, during the American colonial era, Manila became the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 in 1901, and, when the Philippines became an independent republic, gained autonomy in 1949 through Republic Act No. 409, or the “Revised Charter of the City of Manila”.

In 1948, President Elpidio Quirino moved the seat of government to Quezon City, where it remained for 28 years. On June 24, 1976 (Manila’s 405th anniversary), President Ferdinand Marcos reinstated the Manila as the country’s capital and seat of government through Presidential Decree No. 940.


The total population of Manila

In 2015, Manila has a population 1,780,148, which roughly translates to 12.75% of the country’s total population. With over 41,000 residents per square kilometer, it is also the most densely populated city in the world.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila pupulationManila crowd. Photo by Milet Miranda via Flickr Creative Commons


The number of barangays in Manila

With 897 barangays, Manila has the largest number of any city or municipality in Metro Manila, with Pasay coming in second with only 201. Manila’s barangays are spread out among the city’s 16 districts, namely Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo.


The estimated number of business establishments operating in Manila

These 60,000 businesses comprise commerce, banking and finance, retail, transportation, tourism, new and traditional media, legal services, arts and other industries. The city’s economic dynamism is partly the reason why it was named by the National Competitive Council of the Philippines as the second most competitive city in the country in 2016.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila skylineManila Skyline. Photo via Shutterstock

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is headquartered in Manila, as are Landbank of the Philippines, the Philippine Trust Company, Philam Life Insurance Company and Unilever Philippines. And aside from Binondo, Divisoria, an area that is centered mainly along C.M. Recto Avenue where the districts of Binondo, San Nicolas and Tondo meet, is also known for its varied commercial activities, earning it the moniker “shopping mecca of the Philippines.”

Manila is also the location of the Port of Manila, the country’s largest seaport and premier international shipping gateway. Moreover, it is home to some of the country’s largest news publications like The Manila Times, the oldest English-language newspaper in the Philippines; as well as Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star and Manila Standard Today.


The year Manila was declared a global city

According to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC), a research institute at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, a global city (also known as a world city) is one that ranks highly in terms of connectivity through four "advanced producer services": accountancy, advertising, banking/finance, and law. GaWC considers Manila an “Alpha” city, along with cities like Dublin, Ireland; Barcelona, Spain; and San Francisco, USA.


The estimated number of tourists visiting Manila each year

Manila contains several historically and culturally significant sites and landmarks, making it one of the top cities in Metro Manila for recreational sight-seeing and educational trips. The walled city of Intramuros is one of the main tourist spots in the city, housing heritage buildings dating back to the Spanish colonial period such as Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church.

Aside from the San Agustin Church, the city is also known for other religious edifices like the Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Manila; the Binondo Church, founded in 1596 for the Chinese converts to Christianity; Quiapo Church, a Baroque church that houses the image of the Black Nazarene; and the Masjid Al-Dahab or the Golden Mosque, the largest mosque in Metro Manila.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila Intramuros Fort SantiagoThe Walled City of Intramuros. Photo via Shutterstock

Local institutions like the National Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the National Library can also be found in Manila.

Manila Ocean Park, the most modern oceanarium in the Philippines, is located in Manila.


The year Binondo was established

Binondo was established over four centuries ago, making it the oldest Chinatown in the world. Originally founded by the Spanish government as a permanent settlement for Chinese immigrants, the district thrived due to the businesses run by the ethnic Chinese, Chinese mestizos, and Spanish Filipinos.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila Binondo ChinatownBinondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. Photo via Shutterstock

Before the Second World War broke, Binondo was the center of business and finance in Manila; and housed several British and American insurance companies, commercial banks, and other financial institutions. These companies were located along Escolta Street, once touted as the “Wall Street of the Philippines,” before they moved to Makati in the 1980s.


58 hectares
The total land area of Rizal Park

Rizal Park, more popularly known as Luneta, has a total land area of 58 hectares. The park is divided into three sections: the 16-hectare Northeast section, which houses the two buildings housing branches of the National Museum; the Southwestern section, where the Quirino Grandstand and Manila Ocean Park are located; and the 22-hectare park proper, which comprises various parks, monuments, gardens, and event venues.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila Luneta Rizal Park Quirino GrandstandQuirino Grandstand in Rizal Park. Photo by Gabo Halili via Flickr Creative Commons

Rizal Park is also where Kilometer Zero, the point from which one measures the city’s distance from other parts of the country, is located.


The year the University of Santo Tomas was founded

The University of Santo Tomas (UST), founded on April 28, 1611, is said to be the oldest existing university in Asia. Its roots can be traced to 1605, when Manila Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P. bequeathed his personal library and the sum of Php1,500 for the establishment of a “seminary-college” that will prepare young men for a life of priesthood. The original campus was in Intramuros, where it was initially named as the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario. In 1927, UST moved to its current location within Sampaloc, where it has a 21.5-hectare campus.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila UST University of Santo TomasUST, the oldest existing university in Asia. Photo by Tristantamayo via Wikimedia Commons

UST is also recognized as the largest Catholic university in the world in a single campus. The university also has the oldest law school in the Philippines, the Faculty of Civil Law, which was established in 1734; as well as UST Publishing House, one of the oldest continuing presses in the world.


The number of people who participated in creating the world’s biggest human smiley

In 2015, Filipinos showed solidarity in time for the country’s 117th Independence Day celebration by gathering at the Quirino Grandstand and forming an 8,018-person smiley, which was declared as the largest of its kind by the Guinness Book of World Records. But this is not the only world record to have been broken in Manila.

The area was also the site for the world’s largest woman symbol, formed in March 2014 by 10,168 people.

Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo set the World Record in 2015 for the largest display of origami lanterns with 19,999 separate lanterns assembled to look like a dragon.

As a way to show support and raise money for victims of 2013’s Typhoon Yolanda, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) gathered 175,509 participants and walked a total of 1.9 kilometers from the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay to the finish line near Diamond Hotel in Malate, breaking the world record for the largest charity walk in 2014.


407.42 hectares
The size of a soon-to-rise reclamation project along Manila Bay

In a move to further improve the city’s tourism and commerce, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada approved the development of a multi-billion peso mixed-use commercial and tourism center in the central area of Manila Bay. To be called the New Manila Bay International Community, the 407 hectare development will be composed of skyscrapers, business centers, malls, sports and recreational facilities, educational institutions, a theme park, and a water taxi service that will bring tourists around and up to SM Mall of Asia.

Facts and figures about Philippine capital Manila Bay reclamation area projectManila Bay. Photo by ohbernadine via Flickr Creative Commons

According to Estrada, earnings of the venture will be earmarked for more educational, health, livelihood, and other initiatives for Manila residents. 




Main photo via Wikimedia Commons

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