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Republic of the Philippines
Republika ng Pilipinas
Flag Coat of arms
MottoMaka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa[1]
("For God, People, Nature, and Country")
AnthemLupang Hinirang
("Chosen Land")
Location of  Philippines  (green)

in ASEAN  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]

Capital Manila
14°35′N 121°0′E / 14.583°N 121°E / 14.583; 121
Largest city Quezon City
Official language(s) Filipino (based on Tagalog) , English
Recognised regional languages Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Tagalog, Tausug, Waray-Waray[2]
Optional languages Spanish and Arabic[3]
National language Filipino
Demonym Filipino or Pinoy
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 -  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
 -  Vice President Noli de Castro
 -  Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile
 -  House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles
 -  Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno
Independence from Spain1
from United States 
 -  Established April 27, 1565 
 -  Declared June 12, 1898 
 -  Self-government March 24, 1934 
 -  Recognized July 4, 1946 
 -  Current constitution February 2, 1987 
 -  Land 299,764 km2 [4](72nd)
115,831 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.61%[5]
 -  2009 estimate 91,983,000[6] (12th)
 -  2007 census 88,574,614[7] 
 -  Density 306.6/km2 (44th)
794.1/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $317.964 billion[8] (36th)
 -  Per capita $3,515[8] (123rd)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $166.909 billion[8] (47th)
 -  Per capita $1,845[8] (121st)
Gini (2006) 45.8[5] (medium) 
HDI (2007) 0.751[9] (medium) (105th)
Currency Peso (Filipino: piso PhilippinePeso.svg) (PHP)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+8)
Drives on the right[10]
Internet TLD .ph
Calling code +63
1 Philippine revolutionaries declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, but the Spanish claim of sovereignty was passed from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. This led to the Philippine-American War.
2 Rankings above were taken from associated Wikipedia pages as of December 2007 and may be based on data or data sources other than those appearing here.

The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas [pɪlɪˈpinɐs]), officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. Taiwan lies north across the Luzon Strait. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam. The Sulu Sea to the southwest separates it from the island of Borneo and to the south the Celebes Sea from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city is Manila.

With an estimated population of about 92 million people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. It is estimated that there are an additional 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Its tropical climate sustains one of the richest areas in terms of biodiversity in the world.

In prehistoric times, Negritos became some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples who brought with them influences from Malay, Hindu, and Islamic cultures. Trade introduced Chinese cultural influences. The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanish interest and eventually dominance. The Philippines became the Asian hub of the Manila-Acapulco galleon treasure fleet. Christianity became widespread. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the short-lived Philippine Revolution, the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine-American War. In the aftermath, the United States replaced Spain as the dominant power. Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until the end of World War II when the Philippines gained independence. The United States bequeathed to the Philippines the English language and an affinity for Western culture. Since independence the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy, with popular "People Power" movements overthrowing a dictatorship in one instance but also underlining the institutional weaknesses of its constitutional republic in others.



The name Philippines is derived from that of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos during his expedition in 1542 named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias (Spain). Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. before it became commonplace, however, other names such as Islas del Poniente (Islands of the West) and Magellan's name for the islands San Lázaro were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands.[11][12][13][14]

The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of the country's history. During the Philippine Revolution, the country was officially called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the Spanish name. It was during the American period that the name Philippines began to appear and has since become the country's common name.[15] The official name of the country is now Republic of the Philippines.


An Ifugao (Malayo-Polynesian) sculpture.

The earliest known human remains found in the Philippines are those of the pre-Mongoloid Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon dated to around 24,000 years ago.[16][17] Negritos were another group of early inhabitants but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated.[18] They were followed by speakers of Malayo-Polynesian languages who began to arrive beginning around 4000 BCE, displacing the earlier arrivals.[19] By 1000 BCE the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gathering tribes, warrior societies, petty plutocracies, and maritime centered harbor principalities.[20]

The maritime oriented peoples traded with other Asian countries during the subsequent period bringing influences from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. There was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine Archipelago. Instead, the islands were divided among competing thalassocracies ruled by various datus, rajahs, or sultans. Among these were the kingdoms of Maynila, Namayan, and Tondo, the rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu, and the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu.[21][22][23][24] Some of these societies were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Brunei.[25][26] Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia.[27] By the 15th century, Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and by 1565 had reached Mindanao, the Visayas, and Luzon.[28]

An elaborate border frames a full length illustration one would associate with a manuscript of a man and woman. The dark-skinned man dressed in red tunic, breeches, and bandanna and wearing a gold chain is looking pleasantly over his shoulder in the direction of the fair woman who, garbed in a dark gold-fringed dress that covers the length of her body except her bare feet, has the faintest hints of a smile.
A page from the Boxer Codex showing Classical Philippine nobility. Left, is a general from the Rajahnate of Butuan and to the right is a princess of Tondo.

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain.[29] Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. In 1571, after dealing with the local royal families in the wake of the Tondo Conspiracy and defeating the Chinese pirate warlord Limahong, the Spanish established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.[30][31]

Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. The Manila galleons linking Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th century. Trade introduced foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples from the Americas.[31] Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, a university, and hospitals. While a Spanish decree introduced free public schooling in 1863, efforts in mass public education mainly came to fruition during the American period.[32]

During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War, British forces under the command of Brigadier General William Draper and Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish briefly occupied the Philippines. They found local allies like Diego and Gabriela Silang who took the opportunity to lead a revolt against the Mexican-born acting Governor-General and Archbishop of Manila Manuel Rojo del Rio y Vieyra, but Spanish rule was eventually restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris.[27][33][34]

A black and white sketched map of Philippine islands and nearby locations identified in Spanish in long hand script and dots depicting 10 degrees north latitude and a route from Manila towards Guam.
A map found on board the Na SA de Covadonga in 1743, showing the route of the Manila-Acapulco galleon sailing through the Philippine Islands.

In the 1800s, Philippine ports were opened to world trade. Many criollos and mestizos became wealthy. The influx of Spanish and Latino settlers secularized churches and government positions traditionally held by the peninsulares. The ideals of the French Revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the revolt in Cavite El Viejo in 1872 that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.[27][35][36][37][38]

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked after colonial authorities executed the three priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza), who were accused of sedition, in 1872.[35][36] This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896 on charges of rebellion.[39] As attempts at reform were meeting with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, a society along the lines of the freemasons, which sought independence from Spain through armed revolt.[37] Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. In 1898, the Spanish-American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 and the First Philippine Republic was established the following year. Meanwhile, the islands were ceded by Spain to the United States for $20 million dollars in the 1898 Treaty of Paris.[40] As it became increasingly clear the United States would not recognize the First Philippine Republic, the Philippine-American War broke out. It ended with American control over the islands.[41]

A sepia photo of a dignified debonair man on a decorated balcony who with the many microphones in front of him is about to make an address. Large columns of a building are in the background and a wizened official stands at a distance behind.
Manuel L. Quezon in his inauguration as President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines during the American period.

In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status. Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when the Japanese Empire invaded and established a puppet government. Many atrocities and war crimes were committed during the war such as the Bataan Death March and the Manila massacre that culminated during the Battle of Manila.[42] Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1945. By the end of the war it is estimated over a million Filipinos had died. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines attained its independence.[5]

Immediately after World War II, the Philippines faced a number of challenges. The country had to be rebuilt from the ravages of war. It also had to come to terms with Japanese collaborators. Meanwhile, disgruntled remnants of the Hukbalahap communist rebel army that had previously fought against and resisted the Japanese continued to roam the rural regions. Eventually this threat was dealt with by Secretary of National Defense and later President Ramon Magsaysay but sporadic cases of communist insurgency continued to flare up long afterward.[43][44]

A metal statute of a woman wearing a hooded cloak with a kindly expression whose shoulder and outstretched hand are perched on by stylized birds
A statue of the Virgin Mary was built on the EDSA Shrine, after the People Power Revolution.

In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was elected president, his wife Imelda Marcos at his side. Nearing the end of his second term and constitutionally barred from seeking a third, he declared martial law on September 21, 1972. By using political divisions, the tension of the Cold War, and the specter of communist rebellion and Islamic insurgency as justifications, he was able to govern by decree.[45] On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. ignored warnings and returned from exile in the United States. He was assassinated as he was taken off the plane at the Manila International Airport (now called the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his memory). With political pressure building Marcos eventually called for snap presidential elections in 1986.[43] Corazon Aquino, Benigno's widow, was convinced into becoming the presidential candidate and standard bearer of the opposition. The elections were widely thought of as rigged when Marcos was proclaimed the winner. This led to the People Power Revolution, instigated when two long-time Marcos allies—Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief-of-Staff Fidel V. Ramos and Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile—resigned and barricaded themselves in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. Exhorted on by the Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin, people gathered in support of the rebel leaders and protested on EDSA. In the face of mass protests and military defections, Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and into exile. Corazon Aquino was recognized as president.[44][46]

The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a persistent communist insurgency, and Islamic separatists. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992.[47] However, the economic improvements were negated with the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. In 2001, amid charges of corruption and a stalled impeachment process, Ramos' successor Joseph Ejercito Estrada was ousted from the presidency by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and replaced by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Politics and government

The Malacañang Palace is the official residence of the President of the Philippines

The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification, there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.[2]

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term. The senators are elected at large while the representatives are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.[2]

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the Philippine President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.[2]

There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral or parliamentary government beginning in the term of Ramos up to the present administration.[48][49]

Security and defense

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) is the current flagship of the Philippine Navy

Philippine defense is handled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is modeled after the United States armed forces[citation needed] and is composed of three branches: the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy (including the Marine Corps). Civilian security is handled by Philippine National Police under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, is now engaging the government politically. Other more militant groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the communist New People's Army, and the Abu Sayyaf still roam the provinces, but their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.[50][51]

The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. It supported American policies during the Cold War and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was a member of the now dissolved SEATO, a group that was intended to serve a role similar to NATO and that included Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[52] After the start of the War on Terror, the Philippines was part of the coalition that gave support to the United States in Iraq.[53] The Philippines is currently working with the United States with the intention of ending its domestic insurgency.

International relations

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., United States.

The Philippines' international relations are based on its ideals of democracy, peace, and trade with other nations as well as the well-being of the 11 million overseas Filipinos living outside the country.[54]

As a founding and active member of the United Nations, the Philippines has been elected several times into the Security Council. Carlos P. Romulo was a former President of the United Nations General Assembly. The country is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor.[55][56][57][58][59] Aside from the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) an organization designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among states in the Southeast Asian region.[60] It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc.[61] The current relations it enjoys with other Southeast Asian states is in contrast with its relations with them before the 1970s when it was at war with Vietnam and was heavily disputing Sabah with Malaysia, although misunderstandings between these states continue to exist due to the Spratly Islands.[62]

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the current President of the Philippines.

The Philippines values its relations with the United States.[54] It supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror and is a major non-NATO ally. Despite this history of goodwill, controversies related to the presence of the now former U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark and the current Visiting Forces Agreement have flared up from time to time.[54] Japan, the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country,[63] is thought of as a friend. Although historical tensions still exist on issues such as the plight of comfort women much of the animosity inspired by memories of World War II have faded.[64]

Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain and Latin America. Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers and obstacles posed by Islamic insurgency in Mindanao, relations with Middle Eastern countries (including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there. With communism no longer the threat it once was, once hostile relations in the 1950s between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China have improved greatly. Issues involving Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, and concerns of expanding Chinese influence, however, still encourage a degree of carefulness.[64] Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.[54]

International groups the Philippines is a member of include the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, the Group of 24, and the Non-Aligned Movement.[2] It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference.[65][66]

Administrative divisions

Provinces and regions of the Philippines.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1,511 municipalities, and 42,008 barangays.[67] In addition, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the country has acquired islands from Sabah (formerly North Borneo).[68]

Region Designation Regional center
Ilocos Region Region I San Fernando, La Union
Cagayan Valley Region II Tuguegarao, Cagayan
Central Luzon Region III San Fernando, Pampanga
CALABARZON Region IV-A Calamba City, Laguna
MIMAROPA Region IV-B Calapan, Oriental Mindoro
Bicol Region Region V Legazpi, Albay
Western Visayas Region VI Iloilo City
Central Visayas Region VII Cebu City
Eastern Visayas Region VIII Tacloban
Zamboanga Peninsula Region IX Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur
Northern Mindanao Region X Cagayan de Oro City
Davao Region Region XI Davao City
SOCCSKSARGEN Region XII Koronadal, South Cotabato
Caraga Region XIII Butuan
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ARMM Cotabato City
Cordillera Administrative Region CAR Baguio
National Capital Region NCR Manila


The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands[2] with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 square miles). Its 36,289 kilometers of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world.[2][69] It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E. longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude and borders the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, and the Celebes Sea on the south. The island of Borneo is located a few hundred kilometres southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south-southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands.[2]

Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apo. It measures up to 2,954 metres (9,692 ft) above sea level and is located on the island of Mindanao. The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. Manila Bay, upon the shore of which the capital city of Manila lies, is connected to Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, by the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf, and the Moro Gulf are other important bays. The San Juanico Strait separates the islands of Samar and Leyte but it is traversed by the San Juanico Bridge.[70]

Ancient Filipinos utilized terrace farming to grow crops in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines.

Situated on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The Benham Plateau to the east in the Philippine Sea is an undersea region active in tectonic subduction.[71] Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.[72] There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.[73] Not all notable geographic features are so violent or destructive. A more serene legacy of the geological disturbances is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.

Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world.[74] It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc.[74] Despite this, poor management, high population density, and environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped. Geothermal energy, however, is another product of volcanic activity that the country has harnessed more successfully. The Philippines is the world's second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18% of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power.[75]

Flora and fauna

The Philippine Eagle is a bird of prey found in the rainforests of the islands.

The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures.[76] It is one of the ten most biologically mega-diverse countries and is at or near the top in terms of biodiversity per unit area.[77][78][79] Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere.[80] Endemic species include the tamaraw of Mindoro and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol. The Philippines lacks predators, with the exception of snakes, such as pythons and cobras, and birds of prey, such as the national bird, known as the Philippine eagle.[81] Other native animals include the palm civet cat,[82] the mouse deer, the Visayan warty pig, and several species of bats. With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands,[80] Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia.[83][84] The narra is considered as the most important type of hardwood.[85] Philippine territorial waters encompass as much as 1.67 million square kilometers producing unique and diverse marine life and is an important part of the Coral Triangle. There are 2,400 fish species and over 500 species of coral.[76][80] Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.[76][86]

Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the country's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999.[87][88] Many species are endangered and scientists say that South East Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the century.[89] According to Conservation International, "the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation."[83]


The Philippines has a tropical climate and is usually hot and humid. The average yearly temperature is around 26.6°C (79.88°F).[90] There are three recognized seasons: tag-init or tag-araw (the hot season or summer from March to May), tag-ulan (the rainy season from June to November), and tag-lamig (the cold season from December to February). The southwest monsoon (from May to October) is known as the Habagat and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April) as the Amihan.[90] The coolest month is January, and the warmest is May. Both temperature and humidity levels reach the maximum in April and May.[2] Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May.[91] Even during this period, the temperatures rarely rise above 37°C and sea-level temperatures rarely fall below 27°C. Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimetres in some of the sheltered valleys. Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October,[92] with on average approximately 19 typhoons per year entering the Philippine area of responsibility and 8 to 9 making landfall.[93][94]


The Makati City skyline

The national economy of the Philippines is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$166.9 billion (nominal).[95] Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits.[5] Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia.[5] Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (PHP).

A newly industrialized country, the Philippine economy has been transitioning from one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing. Of the country's total labor force of around 38.1 million,[5] the agricultural sector employs close to 32% but contributes to only about 13.8% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 13.7% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile the 46.5% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56.2% of GDP.[96][97]

The unemployment rate as of July 2009 stands at around 7.6% and due to the global economic slowdown inflation as of September 2009 reads 0.70%.[97] Foreign currency reserves as of October 2009 are US$36.13 billion.[98] In 2004, public debt as a percentage of GDP was estimated to be 74.2%; in 2008, 56.9%.[5] Gross external debt has risen to US$66.27 billion.[5] The country is a net importer.[97]

The Philippine Stock Exchange with the statue of martyred Filipino opposition leader during the Marcos dictatorship, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.

In the 1960s, the country was regarded as the second wealthiest in Asia, next to Japan.[54][99][100] However, the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos proved disastrous by gradually transforming the market economy into one with aspects of a centrally planned economy.[54][100] The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.[54][100]

The Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market. The extent to which it was affected initially, however, was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth.[47] There have been signs of progress since. In 2004, the economy experienced 6% GDP growth and 7.3% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades.[5][101] Yet average annual GDP growth per capita for the period 1966-2007 still stands at 1.45% in comparison to an average of 5.96% for the East Asia and the Pacific region as a whole and the daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than US$2.[9][102]

Other incongruities and challenges exist. The economy is heavily reliant on remittances which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Regional development is uneven with Luzon—Metro Manila in particular—gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions,[103] although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country.[97][104] Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the "Next Eleven" economies.[105] However, China and India have emerged as major economic competitors.[106]

The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong City, the Colombo Plan, and the G-77 among other groups and institutions.[5]


Population growth of the Philippines.

The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1877 and recorded a population of 5,567,685.[107] By 2009, the Philippines has become the world's 12th most populous nation, with a population of over 92 million.[8][108] It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital city, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The population of the Greater Manila Area is around 20 million.[109][110] Life expectancy is 71.09 years, with 74.15 years for females and 68.17 years for males.[111] Population growth rate between 1995 to 2000 was 3.21% but has decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005 to 2010 period.[7]

Map of the dominant ethnicities of the Philippines by province.

There are about 11 million Filipinos outside the Philippines.[112] Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965,[113] the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry had grown substantially to 3.1 million according to the 2007 estimates by the United States Census Bureau.[114] According to the US Census Bureau, immigrants from the Philippines made up the second largest group after Mexico that sought family reunification.[115] Some 2 million Filipinos work in the Middle East, with nearly a million in Saudi Arabia alone.[116]


According to the 2000 census 28.1% of Filipinos are Tagalog, 13.1% Cebuano, 9% Ilocano, 7.6% Bisaya/Binisaya, 7.5% Hiligaynon Ilonggo, 6% Bikol, 3.4% Waray, and 25.3% are classified as other.[5][117] These general headings can be broken down further to yield more distinct non-tribal groups like the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Pangasinense, the Ibanag, and the Ivatan.[118] There are also indigenous peoples like the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Badjao, and the tribes of Palawan.[119] Negritos, such as the Aeta and the Ati, are considered the original aboriginal inhabitants of the islands.

Filipinos generally belong to several Asian ethnic groups classified linguistically as part of the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian speaking people.[119] It's believed that thousands of years ago Taiwanese aborigines migrated to the Philippines from Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing, and displacing the earlier Negrito groups of the islands. Eventually Chinese, Spanish, and American arrivals intermarried with the various indigenous ethnic groups that had evolved.[120] Their descendants are known as mestizos.[121] Chinese Filipinos number about 2 million.[122] Other migrant ethnic groups who have settled in the country from elsewhere include Arabs, Britons, other Europeans, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, and South Asians.


The figure below shows the top twenty largest cities in the Philippines.[123]

Largest cities in the Philippines


Rank City Region Population Rank City Region Population


1 Quezon City National Capital 2,679,450 11 Dasmariñas Region IV-A 556,330
2 Manila National Capital 1,660,714 12 Cagayan de Oro Region X 553,966
3 Caloocan National Capital 1,378,856 13 Parañaque National Capital 552,660
4 Davao City Region XI 1,363,337 14 Las Piñas National Capital 532,330
5 Cebu City Region VII 798,809 15 General Santos Region XII 529,542
6 Zamboanga City Region IX 774,407 16 Makati National Capital 510,383
7 Antipolo Region IV-A 633,971 17 Bacolod Region VI 499,497
8 Pasig National Capital 617,301 18 Muntinlupa National Capital 452,493
9 Taguig National Capital 613,343 19 San Jose del Monte Region III 439,090
10 Valenzuela National Capital 568,928 20 Marikina National Capital 424,610
Philippines 2007 Census


Native Languages (2000)[124]
Tagalog 22 million
Cebuano 20 million
Ilokano 7.7 million
Hiligaynon 7 million
Waray-Waray 3.1 million
Kapampangan 2.9 million
Bicol Central 2.5 million
Chavacano creoles 2.5 million
Pangasinan 2.4 million
Bicol Albay 1.2 million
Maranao 1.2 million
Maguindanao 1.1 million
Kinaray-A 1.1 million
Tausug 1 million
Surigaonon 0.6 million
Masbateño 0.5 million
Aklanon 0.5 million
Ibanag 0.3 million

Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 have no known speakers. They are part of the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.[119]

According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Tagalog and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. Major languages recognized in the constitution include Bicolano, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray-Waray. Spanish and Arabic are recognized as voluntary and optional languages.[3]

Other languages such as Aklanon, Boholano, Chavacano, Zamboangueño, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Ivatan, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankana-ey, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Masbatenyo, Romblomanon, Surigaonon, Tausug, Yakan, and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces.


The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor. It is composed of several diocese and archdiocese. More than 90% of the population are Christians. About 80% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while the remaining 10% belong to other Christian denominations, such as the Philippine Independent Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist Church, United Church of Christ and the Orthodox Church.[125]

Between 5% to 10% of the population are Muslim, most of whom live in parts of Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago, an area known as Bangsamoro or the Moro region.[126][127] Some have migrated into urban and rural areas in different parts of the country. Most Muslim Filipinos practice Shafi'i, a form of Sunni Islam, while some tribal groups such as the Bajau practice a form mixed with animism.[125]

Philippine traditional religions are still practiced by many aboriginal and tribal groups, often syncretized with Christianity and Islam. Animism, folk religion, and shamanism remain present as undercurrents of mainstream religion, through the albularyo, the babaylan, and the manghihilot.[125] Meanwhile, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religion, are dominant in Chinese communities.[127]


The University of Santo Tomas, founded in 1611 is one of the Philippines' oldest universities.

The National Statistics Office reports a simple literacy rate of 93.4% and a functional literacy rate of 84.1% for 2003.[5][9][97] Literacy is about equal for males and females.[5] Spending for education is around 2.5% of GDP.[5] According to the Department of Education, or DepEd, there were 42,152 elementary schools and 8,455 high schools registered for the school year 2006–2007[128] while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) lists 2,060 higher education institutions, 537 of which are public and 1,523 private.[129] Classes start in June and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programs.[2] Republic Act No. 9155 gives the framework of basic education in the Philippines and provides for compulsory elementary education and free high school education.[130]

The Department of Education covers elementary, secondary, and nonformal education; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) administers the post-secondary middle-level education training and development; while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises the college and graduate academic programs and degrees as well as regulates standards in higher education.[131]


Most of the national burden of health care is taken up by private health providers. In 2006, total expenditures on health represented 3.8% of GDP. 67.1% of that came from private expenditures while 32.9% was from government. External resources accounted for 2.9% of the total. Health expenditures represented about 6.1% of total government spending. Per capita total expenditure at average exchange rate was US$ 52.[132] The proposed National Health Budget for 2010 is P28 billion, about US$597 million, or about 310 pesos (US$7) per person in the Philippines.[133] The government share of total spending on health has declined steadily, and with more people, there has been less to spend per person.

There are an estimated 90,370 physicians or 1 per every 833 people, 480,910 nurses, 43,220 dentists, and 1 hospital bed per every 769 people.[132] Retention of skilled practitioners is a problem. 70% of nursing graduates go abroad to work overseas. The country is the biggest supplier of nurses.[134]

In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40 percent were government run and 60 percent private. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25 percent of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Other estimates state that there may have been as many as 9,400 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2001.[92]



Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II.

The transportation infrastructure in the country is relatively underdeveloped. Partly this is due to the mountainous terrain and the scattered geography of the islands, but it is also the result of the government's persistent underinvestment in infrastructure. In 2003, only 3.6% of GDP went to infrastructure development which was significantly lower than that of some of its neighbors.[92] Consequently, while there are 203,025 kilometers (126,154 miles) of roads in the country, only around 20 percent of the total is paved.[135]

Nevertheless there are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns. In 2007, there were about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles with registration increasing at an average annual rate of 4.55%.[136] Train services are provided by three main railway networks that serve different areas of Metro Manila and parts of Luzon: the Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT), the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

Philippine Airlines is the first commercial airline in Asia.

As an archipelago, inter-island travel via watercraft is often necessary. The busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga.[137] Passenger ships and other sea vessels such as those operated by Superferry, Negros Navigation, and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns. In 2003, the 919-kilometer Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities was established.[138]

Some rivers that pass through metropolitan areas, such as the Pasig River and Marikina River, have air-conditioned commuter ferries. The Pasig River Ferry Service has numerous stops in Manila, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City, and Marikina City.[139] There are 3,219 kilometers of navigable inland waterways.[5]

There are 85 public airports in the country, and around 111 more that are private.[135] The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is the main international airport. Other important airports include the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and Francisco Bangoy International Airport. Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest commercial airline still operating under its original name, and Cebu Pacific, the leading low-cost airline, are the major airlines serving most domestic and international destinations.[140][141][142]


The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users.[143] It is estimated that there are over 57 million cellular phone subscribers[117] and the ownership rate is increasing.[143] Text messaging has fostered a culture of quick greetings and forwarded jokes among Filipinos. In 2007, the nation sent an average of 1 billion SMS messages per day a reason that the Philippines has been called the "Texting Capital of the World".[144] Out of this growing number of avid text message senders, over 5 million of them use their cellular phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks.[145]

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company commonly known as PLDT is the leading telecommunications provider. It is also the largest company in the country.[143][146] Its wholly owned subsidiaries Smart Communications and Piltel, along with Globe Telecom of the Ayala Group, BayanTel, and Sun Cellular are the major cellular service providers in the country.

There are approximately 383 AM and 659 FM radio stations and 297 television and 873 cable television stations.[147] Estimates for internet penetration in the Philippines vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 24 million people.[148][149] Social networking and MMORPGs are among the most frequent internet activities.[150][151]

Culture and society

Islamic instruments of gongs and a drum that make up the Philippine kulintang ensemble, an example of pre-Hispanic musical tradition.

Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines shares many aspects with other Asian countries, with a traditional Malay[152] heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. These influences are evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art, and religion.

Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well-known. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.[153]

One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish surnames and names among Filipinos. A Spanish name and surname among the majority of Filipinos does not always denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree, the Clavería edict, for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the population.[154] The names of many streets, towns, and provinces are also in Spanish. Spanish architecture has left an imprint in the Philippines in the way many towns were designed around a central square or plaza mayor, but many of the buildings bearing its influence were demolished during World War II.[21] Some examples remain, however, mainly among the country's churches, government buildings, and universities. Four Philippine baroque churches are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the San Agustín Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Santa María) Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.[155] Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic-styled houses and buildings preserved there.[156]

The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos' love of fast food, film, and music. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market, but local fast food chains like Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee, the leading fast food chain in the country, have emerged and compete successfully against their foreign rivals.[157][158] Modern day Filipinos also listen and watch contemporary American and European music and film. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and local films are also enjoyed.


The Halo-halo is a dessert made of ice, milk, various fruits and ice cream.

Filipino cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes. Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate, such as the paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechón, adobo, sinigang, kare-kare, tapa, crispy pata, pancit, lumpia, and halo-halo. Some common local ingredients used in cooking are calamondins, coconuts, saba (a kind of short wide plantain), mangoes, milkfish, and fish sauce. Filipino taste buds tend to favor robust flavors but the cuisine is not as spicy as those of its neighbors.[158][159]

Furthermore, unlike many of their Asian counterparts, Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks. They use western cutlery. However, possibly due to rice being the primary staple food and the popularity of a large number of stews or broth based main dishes in Filipino cuisine, the main pairing of utensils seen at the Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork.[160] The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in less urbanized areas.[161]

Mythology and literature

Philippine mythology has been handed down primarily through the traditional oral folk literature of the Filipino people. While each unique ethnic group has its own stories and myths to tell Hindu and Spanish influence can nonetheless be detected in many cases. Many of the myths are creation stories or stories about supernatural creatures, such as the aswang (vampire), the diwata (fairy), and Nature. Some popular figures from Philippine mythologies are Maria Makiling, Lam-Ang, and the sarimanok.[162]

Philippine literature comprises works usually written in Filipino, Spanish, or English. Some of the most widely known were created in the 19th century. Francisco Balagtas the poet and playwright who wrote Florante at Laura is recognized as a preeminent writer in the Filipino language. José Rizal wrote the novels Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), and El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed) and is considered a national hero. His depiction of the injustices of Spanish rule and death by firing squad inspired other Philippine revolutionaries to seek independence. In the 20th century, among those officially recognized as National Artists of the Philippines in literature are N.V.M. Gonzalez, Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose, and Alejandro Roces.[163]


The GMA Network broadcasting center

Philippine media uses mainly Filipino and English. Other Philippine languages, including various Visayan languages are also used, especially in radio due to its ability to reach remote rural locations that might otherwise not be serviced by other kinds of media. The dominant television networks ABS-CBN and GMA also have extensive radio presence.[164]

The entertainment industry is vibrant and feeds broadsheets and tabloids with an unending supply of details about celebrities and sensationalist scandals du jour. Drama and fantasy shows are anticipated as are Latin telenovelas, Asianovelas, and anime. Daytime television is dominated by game shows, variety shows, and talk shows such as Eat Bulaga, Game KNB? and Wowowee. Philippine cinema has a long history and is widely appreciated, but has faced increasing competition from American and European films. Critically acclaimed directors and actors include Lino Brocka and Nora Aunor for films like Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila: In the Claws of Light) and Himala (Miracle). In recent years it has become common to see celebrities flitting between television and movies and then moving into politics provoking concerns.[165]

Sports and recreation

A professional basketball game being played between the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants and Barako Bull Energy Boosters.

Various sports and pastimes are popular in the Philippines including basketball, boxing, volleyball, football, badminton, taekwondo, billiards, ten-pin bowling, chess, and sipa. Motocross, cycling, and mountaineering are also becoming popular.[166] Basketball is played at both amateur and professional levels and is considered to be the most popular sport in the Philippines.[167][168] In almost every corner of the cities, there is a basketball court.[153][166]

Some Filipinos widely recognized for their achievements include Francisco Guilledo, Flash Elorde, and Manny Pacquiao in boxing,[166] Paulino Alcántara in football (soccer), Carlos Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez in basketball, Efren Reyes in billiards,[169] Eugene Torre in chess, and Rafael Nepomuceno in bowling.[170]

Traditional Filipino games such as luksung baka, patintero, piko, and tumbang preso are still played primarily as children's games among the youth.[171][172] Sungka is a traditional native Filipino board game. Card games are popular during festivities, with some, including pusoy and tong-its, being used as a form of illegal gambling. Mahjong is played in some Filipino communities. The yo-yo, a popular toy in the Philippines, was introduced in its modern form by Pedro Flores with its name from the Ilokano language.[173][174] Arnis is the national martial art and sport.[175]

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External links

General information


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Philippine (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Filipino

Usage notes

  • This term is usually capitalized and usually refers to things, not people, related to or associated with the Philippines.

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