Manila, also known as the Pearl of the Orient, is located in Southern Luzon, the largest of the more than 7,000 islands that make up the nation known as the Philippines. The city flanks Manila Bay, and is divided into northern and southern sections by the Pasig River. Manila serves not only as the country's capitol, but also as its financial, publishing, and business center. The citizens of the city speak Tagalog, but most are also fluent in English, which is the language of instruction in the public schools. Manila contains many of the country's largest and most prestigious universities and is also home to the National Library. It was the central location of the nation's battles for independence, first from Spain and later from the United States. Colonized by the Spanish and later governed by the Americans, Manila shows the signs of foreign influence in the widespread Roman Catholicism and the modeling of its schools upon the American educational system. Despite these influences, Manila and its citizens demonstrate a character and vitality uniquely their own.