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 about 71,000 people per square kilometer, Manila is also the most densely populated city proper in the world.
The City of Manila is located on the eastern shores of the Manila Bay. 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.
Maynilà, the Filipino name for the city, originated from the word nilà, referring to a flowering mangrove tree that grew on the delta of the Pasig River and the shores of Manila Bay. The flowers were made into garlands that, according to folklore, were offered to statues on religious altars or in churches. As nilà products were distributed in other places, people came to refer to the area as Sa may Nilà, Tagalog for "the place where there are nilàs". The word nilà itself is probably from the Sanskrit nila (नील), meaning "indigo tree".
The earliest evidence of human life around present-day Manila is the nearby Angono Petroglyphs, dated to around 3000 BC. Negritos, an Australoid people who became the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, lived across the island of Luzon, where Manila is located, before the Malayo-Polynesians migrated in and assimilated them.
The polity of Tondo flourished during the latter half of the Ming dynasty as a result of direct trade relations with China. The Tondo district was the traditional capital of the empire, and its rulers were sovereign kings, not mere chieftains. They were addressed variously as panginuan in Maranao or panginoón in Tagalog ("lords"); anák banwa ("son of heaven"); or lakandula ("lord of the palace"). The Emperor of China considered the Lakans—the rulers of ancient Manila—"王", or kings.