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Historical Description[]

Beginning in the Gunpowder Age, Manila was the center of Spain’s colonial empire in Asia. Except for a brief occupation by the British during the Seven Years War, it remained in Spanish hands from 1571 until 1898. That year, Spain’s Pacific fleet was destroyed by the American Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay, and the Philippines became an American colony. Although devastated by fierce fighting in World War II, Manila has since recovered and is one of the largest and most important metropolitan areas in Asia.

Manila’s greatest claim to fame during the Age of Sail was as the staging point for the Manila Galleons. These were massive, heavily armed ships that made annual round trips from the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico. Traveling alone or in a pair, the galleons carried spices, silk, porcelain, and other luxuries. The treasure in these ships was legendary, making them a juicy target for pirates. They were so vital to the local economy that the colony entered an economic depression whenever they were captured or sunk.

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