In 1990, the population of the city of Manila was 1,876,194, while the population of the area known as Metro Manila was 7,832,000. Approximately 94 percent of Manila's population is of Malay-Indonesian descent, often infused with Spanish, Chinese, American, and European blood. Of the remainder of the population, between five and six percent are Chinese; this portion of the population includes many of Manila's wealthiest families and businessmen. Because interracial marriage is common in the Philippines, many Manila residents can be described as Mestizos, the product of marriage between Filipinos and Caucasians or Chinese and non-Chinese.
Tagalog is the main language of Manila. Part of the Malay-Polynesian group of languages, it contains words borrowed from many sources including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Sanskrit. Because more than 70 dialects are spoken in the Philippines, the country has been working toward developing a true national language. The language, called Filipino, is based most heavily on Tagalog. A small percentage of the population—mainly the upper class—claims Spanish as its mother tongue. English is widely spoken and is generally the language of business and politics. English is also the language of instruction in the public schools, although a move to replace English with Filipino in the schools was backed by the Ramos government (1992–98).