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Manila has a reputation as a congested, polluted concrete jungle, and is often overlooked as a mere stopover for travellers aiming to reach other Philippine provinces or islands.
To an extent this reputation is deserved, but Manila is nevertheless rapidly developing and has its own rich history and experiences to offer.
The city is sprawling, bustling, and culturally complicated, with a colorful multi-cultural heritage and varied nightlife.
Manila is distributed into 16 territorial districts, which are all original towns except one, the Port Area District.
Each district is distinguished through its history, culture and cuisine.
The eight districts of the City of Manila (not to be confused with Metro Manila) north of the Pasig River are: As we now see it, Manila is more modern and western judging from the steel and glass skyscrapers dotting the skyline.
For over three centuries Manila was colonised and administered by Spain which left an enduring architectural heritage throughout the Philippines, especially with respect to churches, forts and other colonial buildings which can still be seen in the ruins of Intramuros, built in the late 16th century.
Manila began as a settlement on the banks of the Pasig River, and its name originates from "Maynilad," referring to the mangrove plant known as Nilad, which was abundant in the area.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Manila was home to Muslim-Malays, who were descended from the Arabs, Indians, East Asians and other Southeast Asians.