The Philippines is an island nation located in Southeast Asia, with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine Archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The country reflects diverse indigenous Austronesian cultures from its many islands, as well as European and American influence from Spain, Latin America and the United States.
The Philippines is one of the most westernized countries in Asia. This springs from the country’s long history of Spanish, British, and American colonization, a 381-year period of infusing western influence with indigenous Malay culture that ended with Asia’s first nationalist revolution.
Filipinos are mostly of Austronesian descent. Some Filipinos are partly of American, Spanish, Chinese, and Arab ancestry.
The Philippines is geographically part of South East Asia. The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands. Only 2,000 of these islands are inhabited, with major concentration at only 11 islands. It is divided into three geographical areas: Luzon in the north, Mindanao in the south, and Visayas in between.
And it is further subdivided into these regions:
For Luzon: National Capital Region (NCR; Metro Manila),Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region (Region I), Cagayan Valley (Region II), Central Luzon (Region III), CALABARZON (Region IV-A), MIMARO (Region IV-B), Bicol Region ( Region V)
For Visayas : Western Visayas (Region VI), Central Visayas (Region VII), Easter Visayas (Region VIII)
For Mindanao : Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX), Northern Mindanao (Region X), Davao Region (Region XI), SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII), Caraga (Region XIII), Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
This island-nation has a total land area of 301,000 square kilometers, constituting about 2 percent of the world’s total land area. It borders Taiwan on the north, the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, and the Celebes Sea on the south.
Climate and Landscape
Being the second largest archipelago in the world, the climate and landscape varies widely throughout the country.
As a tropical country, the Philippines experiences warm weather and humidity during most parts of the year. During the dry, summer season from March to May, the temperature ranges from 21°C to 32°C, and may even hit 37°C. The southwest monsoon brings rain and high temperatures from May to October, while northeast monsoon produces a cool and dry weather from December to February.
Straddling the typhoon belt, the Philippines gets hit by 15 to 20 typhoons a year. Five or six of these are serious enough to cause devastation and destruction to lives, property, and livelihood.
Environment and Natural Resources
The Philippines has been called the “Pearl of the Orient” because of the abundance of natural resources, from its breathtaking sights to its unique ecological structure – a reflection of the diversity of life in this part of the world. It is home to 121 and 3,200 rare and endemic species of mammals and flora, respectively, which included the world’s smallest primate, the Tarsier, and the world’s heaviest and second to the largest eagle, the Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle.
The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1591-1898 before becoming the one and only U.S. colony. As such, the culture is an interesting and unique melting pot of Spanish and American sensibilities, with the charm and playfulness of the Filipino people built right in. English is spoken universally, in addition to over 100 dialects. 97% of the country is Roman Catholic, but active Muslim groups are concentrated in the southwest of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, in the very South of the Philippines and closest to Malaysia and Indonesia where there are also active Muslim parties.
Estimates: 90% Christian Malay, 5% Muslim Malay ,2% Chinese and 3% others.
The national language is Pilipino, which is based on the language of Tagalog, although there are at least one or two dialects spoken in every region. English is both spoken and understood throughout the country, especially in business negotiations and in the government. Hokkien, Cantonese and Mandarin are spoken by older members of the Filipino-Chinese community.
Today, Christianity remains to be the predominant religion in the Philippines, where about 83 percent of its people are Roman Catholics. With Muslim being the second religion. Estimates: 83% Roman Catholic, 9% Protestant, 5% Muslim, 3% Buddhist and others.
The Philippines is readily accessible from the travel capitals of the world. Traveling time to Manila from Hong Kong is an hour and 50 minutes; Singapore, 3 hours and 10 minutes; Bangkok, 3 hours and 50 minutes; Tokyo, 4 hours and 15 minutes; Sydney, 10 hours and 20 minutes; London, 20 hours and 45 minutes; Paris, 21 hours and 15 minutes; Frankfurt, 19 hours and 40 minutes; San Francisco, 16 hours and 15 minutes; Los Angeles, 15 hours and 20 minutes; and New York, 25 hours and 20 minutes.
In 2005, the population grew to 85 million, at an annual growth rate of 1.9 percent. Of the total inhabitants, 52 percent are residing in rural areas, while 48 percent are in urban areas, including the 12 percent living in the National Capital Region, Metro Manila.
The Philippine education system follows four stages of learning: two years in pre-primary level, six years in primary education, four years in secondary education, and a college education that usually takes four years. The option to proceed to graduate school is popular among the middle and upper class Filipinos, especially those in the business field. The medium of teaching used in both public and private schools are English and Pilipino/Tagalog.