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’s name, originally Maynilad, is derived from that of the nilad plant, a flowering shrub adapted to marshy conditions, which once grew profusely along the banks of the river; the name was shortened first to Maynila and then to its present form. 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.