Metropolitan Manila (often shortened to as Metro Manila; Kalakhang Maynila, Gran Manila), officially the National Capital Region (NCR), is the seat of government and one of the three defined metropolitan areas of the Philippines. It is composed of 16 cities namely: the City of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, as well as the municipality of Pateros.
The region encompasses an area of 619.57 km2 and has a population of as of 2015. It is the second most populous and the most densely populated region of the Philippines. It is also the 9th most populous metropolitan area in Asia and the 5th most populous urban area in the world.
The region is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. Designated as a global power city, the region exerts a significant impact on commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment, both locally and internationally. It is the home to all the consulates and embassies in the Philippines, thereby making it an important center for international diplomacy in the country. Its economic power makes the region the country's premier center for finance and commerce. The region accounts for 37.2% of the gross domestic product of the Philippines.
The region was established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 824 in response to the needs to sustain the growing population and for the creation for the center of political power and the seat of the Government of the Philippines. The Province of Manila, the predecessor entity of the region, is one of the first eight provinces that revolted against the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century. Manila's role in the Revolution is honored in the Flag of the Philippines, where the sun's eight rays symbolize the eight revolutionary provinces.
A historical province known as Manila encompassed territories once held by various pre-Hispanic polities. This included the well-known Pasig River delta settlements of Maynila and Tondo, but smaller settlements such as those at Tambobong, Taguig, Pateros, and the fortified polity of Cainta. It became the capital of the colonial Philippines, with Manila (Intramuros) serving as the center of colonial power. In 1898, it included the City of Manila and 23 other municipalities. Mariquina also served as the capital from 1898–1899, just as when the sovereignty of the Philippines was transferred to the United States. The province was dissolved and most of it was incorporated to the newly created province of Rizal in 1901.
Since the Spanish colonial period, Manila was considered as one of the original global cities. The Manila galleon was the first known commercially traveled trade route that sailed the Pacific for 250 years, bringing to Spain their cargoes of luxury goods, economic benefits, and cultural exchange.
During the American period, at the time of the Philippine Commonwealth, American architect and urban designer Daniel Burnham was commissioned to create the grand Plan of Manila to be approved by the Philippine Government. The creation of Manila in 1901 is composed of the places and parishes of Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Manila, Pandacan, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andrés Bukid, San Fernando de Dilao, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana de Sapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo. Meanwhile, the towns and parishes of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Mariquina, Pasig, Parañaque, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan del Monte, San Pedro de Macati, San Felipe Neri, Muntinlupa and the Taguig-Pateros area were incorporated into the province of Rizal. Pasig serves as its provincial capital.
In 1939, President Quezon established Quezon City with a goal to replace Manila as the capital city of the country. A masterplan for Quezon City was completed. The establishment of Quezon City meant the demise of the grand Burnham Plan of Manila, with funds being diverted for the establishment of the new capital. World War II further resulted in the loss most of the developments in the Burnham Plan, but more importantly, the loss of more than 100,000 lives at the Battle of Manila in 1945. Later on, Quezon City was eventually declared as the national capital in 1948. The title was re-designated back to Manila in 1976 through Presidential Decree No. 940 owing to its historical significance as the almost uninterrupted seat of government of the Philippines since the Spanish colonial period. Presidential Decree No. 940 states that Manila has always been to the Filipino people and in the eyes of the world, the premier city of the Philippines being the center of trade, commerce, education and culture.
During the war, President Manuel L. Quezon created the City of Greater Manila as an emergency measure, merging the cities of Manila and Quezon City, along with the municipalities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Mariquina, Pasig, Parañaque, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan del Monte, San Pedro de Macati, San Felipe Neri, Muntinlupa and the Taguig-Pateros area. Jorge Vargas was appointed as its mayor. Mayors in the cities and municipalities included in the City of Greater Manila served as vice mayors in their town. This was in order to ensure Vargas, who was Quezon's principal lieutenant for administrative matters, would have a position of authority recognized under international military law. The City of Greater Manila was abolished by the Japanese with the formation of the Philippine Executive Commission to govern the occupied regions of the country. The City of Greater Manila served as a model for the present-day Metro Manila and the administrative functions of the Governor of Metro Manila that was established during the Marcos administration.
On November 7, 1975, Metro Manila was formally established through Presidential Decree No. 824. The Metropolitan Manila Commission was also created to manage the region. On June 2, 1978, through Presidential Decree No. 1396, the metropolitan area was declared the National Capital Region of the Philippines. When Metro Manila was established, there were four cities, Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Pasay and the thirteen municipalities of Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela and Pateros. At present, all of these municipalities except for one have become an independent charted city; only Pateros remains as a municipality.