The Philippines is an island country in Southeast Asia in the Pacific Ocean. It has 7,641 islands. Spain (1521-1898) and the United States (1898-1946), colonized (controlled) the country and Palau, which is on the eastern side of the Philippine Sea. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila.
Republic of the Philippines
Republika ng Pilipinas (Filipino)
Anthem: Lupang Hinirang
|Largest city||Quezon City|
|Recognized regional languages|
|Other recognized languages||Official and national sign languageb|
Filipino Sign Language
|Ethnic groups |
(masculine or neutral)
(colloquial masculine or neutral)
|Government||Unitary presidential constitutional republic|
|Vicente Sotto III|
|Lord Allan Velasco|
|House of Representatives|
|Formation of the republic|
|June 12, 1898|
|December 10, 1898|
|January 21, 1899|
|March 24, 1934|
|May 14, 1935|
|July 4, 1946|
|February 2, 1987|
|300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi) (72nd)|
• Water (%)
|0.61 (inland waters)|
• 2015 census
|336/km2 (870.2/sq mi) (47th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|$1.041 trillion (27th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|$354 billion (36th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2015)|| 40.1|
medium · 44th
|HDI (2017)|| 0.699|
medium · 113th
|Currency||Peso (₱) (PHP)|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (PST)|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC+8 (not observed)|
|ISO 3166 code||PH|
The Philippine Islands are surrounded on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Celebes Sea. Borneo island is a few hundred kilometers to the southwest, Vietnam is to the west, and Taiwan is directly north.
The earliest known hominin fossils from the Philippines are from Homo luzonensis, an extinct species of archaic humans in the genus Homo. They are are about 67,000 years old.
Human fossils have been found proving that modern Homo sapiens settled in the Philippines for thousands of years. The Negritos crossed prehistoric land or ice to settle in the islands' land. Many groups of Austronesian people began to come to the Philippines in the first millennium, pushing the aboriginal population into the interior or perhaps absorbing them through intermarriage.
Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century. The rise of powerful Buddhist kingdoms enabled trade with the Indonesian archipelago, India, Japan and Southeast Asia. Factional fighting among the kingdoms of Southeast Asia weakened their strength. In the meantime, the spread of Islam through commerce and proselytism, much like Christianity, brought traders and missionaries into the region; Arabs set foot in Mindanao in the 14th century. When the first Europeans arrived, led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, there were rajahs as far north as Manila, who historically were tributaries of the kingdoms of Southeast Asia. However, the islands were essentially self-sufficient and self-ruling.
The Spanish led by Conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed and colonized the islands in the 16th century and named it Filipinas after King Philip II of Spain. Roman Catholicism was immediately introduced. The Philippines was ruled from New Spain (Mexico) and a trade began in the 18th century began using galleons across the Pacific Ocean. Some rebellions and violence started in the towns near the ocean and during the next three centuries because of some unfairness of the government.
In 1781, Governor José Basco y Vargas founded the Economic Society of Friends of the Country to make the Philippines independent of New Spain.
The country opened up during the 19th century. The rise of an ambitious, more nationalistic Filipino middle class and the Chinese mestizo community, signaled the end of Spanish colonialism in the islands. Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government, they asked for independence. Jose Rizal, the most famous propagandist, was arrested and put to death in 1896 for acts of subversion. Soon after, the Philippine Revolution broke out, led by the Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society founded by Andres Bonifacio and later led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution nearly succeeded in ousting the Spanish by 1898.
That same year Spain and the United States fought the Spanish-American War, after which Spain gave up the Philippines to the United States for US$20 million. The Filipinos had declared independence by that time and the assertion of American control led to the Philippine-American War that officially ended in 1901, but fighting continued well into 1913. Between 1899 and 1913 the American-Philippines war waged, about one million Filipinos and well over 5500 American soldiers (including missionaries and private contractors, military families) lost their lives, tens of thousands more were wounded. Most of the Philippines' casualties came from starvation, injuries, diseases, lack of clean living. Hostilities continued until 1914 when Philippines was promised future independence.
President William McKinley was killed by anarchist Leon Czolgosz because Czolgosz believed president McKinley was against good working people, he considered McKinley responsible for falsifying the reasons for the war, and approving and waging an illegal, devastating Philippines war.
The American regime imposed the English language as the lingua franca in the islands through free public education. The status of the country was turned into that of a US commonwealth in 1935, which provided for more self-governance.
Independence was finally given in 1946, after World War II. The years right after that had many post-war problems. People were also not happy during the unpopular dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who was made to leave the presidency in 1986. Later, the continuing problem of communist insurgency and Moro separatism.
The government of the Philippines, is similar to the Government of the United States of America. The President of the Philippines works as the head of state, the head of government, and the commander in chief of the Military of the Philippines and the armed forces. The president is elected by voting just as in America except by popular vote as there is no electoral voting. He stays as the president for 6 years. He is the leader of the cabinet.
The bicameral Philippine legislature, the Congress of the Philippines, consists of the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives of the Philippines; members of both are elected by popular vote. There are 24 senators serving 6 years in the Senate while the House of Representatives consists of no more than 250 congressmen each serving 3-year terms.
The judiciary branch of the government is headed by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which has a Chief Justice as its head and 14 Associate Justices, all appointed by the president.
The Philippines is a founding and prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is also an active participant of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a member of the Group of 24 and one of the 51 founding members of the United Nations on October 24, 1945.
Regions and StatesEdit
Local Government. The parts of Philippines are "local government units" (LGUs). The province is the top unit. There are 79 provinces in the country (2002). In the provinces there are cities and municipalities (towns). In these municipalities there are smaller barangays (villages). The barangay is the smallest local government unit.
All provinces are in 17 regions for administration (organisation). Most government offices have regional offices for the provinces. The regions do not have a separate local government, except for the Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera regions, which have their own power (autonomous government).
|Ilocos Region||Region I||San Fernando, La Union|
|Cagayan Valley||Region II||Tuguegarao, Cagayan|
|Central Luzon||Region III||San Fernando, Pampanga|
|CALABARZON ¹||Region IV-A||Laguna, Quezon|
|MIMAROPA ¹||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|
|Davao Region||Region XI||Davao City|
|SOCCSKSARGEN ¹||Region XII||Koronadal, South Cotabato|
|Cordillera Administrative Region||CAR||Baguio|
|National Capital Region||NCR||Manila|
¹ Names are capitalized because they are acronyms, containing the names of the constituent provinces or cities.
The Philippines has 7,641 islands. Together there are about 300,000 square kilometers of land. The islands are in three groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon is the largest island and Mindanao is the second largest. The Visayas are the group of islands in the central part of the Philippines. The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the country's capital and it is the second-largest city after Quezon City. In the Visayas, Cebu City is the largest city. In Mindanao, Davao City is the largest city.
The climate is hot, humid (there is a lot of water in the air), and tropical. The average temperature all year is around 26.5 °Celsius. Filipinos usually say there are three 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 Philippines is in the Pacific Ring of Fire (zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). Most of the mountainous islands had a lot of tropical rainforests a long time ago. They started as volcanoes. The highest place is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 m. Many volcanoes in the country, for example Mount Mayon, are active. The country also has about 19 typhoons per year.
Taal Volcano is an island in Taal Lake. It is in an ancient caldera in Batangas Province. It is about 2 hours by bus going south from Manila. The jump-off point in Talisay is suitable for day trips and overnighters.
There are many environmental problems in the Philippines. One of them is overfishing in many areas, which lead to pitiful catches. Another problem is that only ten percent of sewage is treated and cleaned, while the other 90% is dumped back to nature and the ocean, which leads to pollution. Deforestation is a serious problem, and after decades of cutting down forests, illegal logging and forest fires, there is only 3% left of original forest cover. Forest losses have also affected the Philippines with serious soil erosion, which is threatening the Philippines biodiversity.
The Philippines is a developing country. In 1998 the Philippine economy — a mixture of agriculture, light industry, and support services — deteriorated because of the effects of the Asian financial crisis and poor weather conditions. The economy's growth fell to 0.6% in 1998 from 5% in 1997, but recovered to about 3% in 1999 and 4% in 2000. As of 2012, it's estimated at 6.6%.
The government has promised to continue its economic reforms to help the Philippines match the pace of development in the newly industrialized countries of Southeast Asia. The strategies are improving infrastructure, fixing the tax system to help the government income, supporting deregulation (to remove government control) and privatization of the economy, and increasing trade within the region. Future prospects depend heavily on the economic performance of the three major trading partners, China, the United States and Japan.
Around 94 million people live in the Philippines as of 2010. Most people in the Philippines are of Austronesian stock. The ethnic Chinese, who have helped run businesses since the 9th century, also live in the country. Its now 105 million people there. The Negritos live in the mountains of Luzon and Visayas. Luzon has a lot of mestizo people, a Spanish term for someone of mixed Hispanic and native blood.
The people of the Philippines are known as Filipinos. Filipinos are divided into many groups, the three largest are the Tagalogs, Cebuanos, and the Ilocanos. When the Philippines was a colony, the term "Filipino" used to mean the Spanish and Spanish-mixed minority. But now everyone who is a citizen/national of the Philippines is called "Filipino". Even then, it is still has the most diverse ethnic groups in Asia, the other being Indonesia. People also call Filipinos "Pinoy" for short.
Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is based largely on Tagalog, a native language spoken in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. The Filipino language, is a cousin of the Malay language. Other local languages and dialects are Cebuano and Ilocano and many others. English is used in government, schools and business. Other languages are Chinese which is spoken by the ethnic Chinese population and the Chinese-Filipinos. Most of the Muslims living deep in southern Mindanao and the smaller islands off of the southern Philippine mainland near Malaysia's northeastern tip. They also speak Arabic as a second language but to a very small extent. Spanish, once the official language of the Philippines in the 1970s is also spoken by a notable minority of Filipinos.
Before the Spanish arrived, the Filipinos did not think of themselves as one culture. Most of the Philippines were Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu empires. The Spaniards came in 1565, and brought with them Spanish culture. They soon spread to the islands making forts and schools, preaching Christianity, and converting most of the native people to the Catholic religion. When the United States colonized the islands in 1898, the Americans brought with them their own culture, which has the strongest influence up to now. This makes the Philippines the most Westernized country in eastern Asia. The Spanish culture in the Philippines though, is not directly from Spain but from Mexico, since the Philippines was ruled by Spain, through Mexico. It was governed from Mexico City which explains much of the Spanish influence in the Philippines that one could only find in Mexico and not in Spain. Also, the Spanish that was spoken in the Philippines was Mexican Spanish, not European Spanish. A lot of the foods in the Philippines can also be found in Mexico. Filipinos, as a tradition, usually eat with hands, like that of Malay tradition. And most of Filipino cuisine is also of Malay influence for the most part.
Each year major festivities called barrio fiestas are held. They commemorate the Patron saints of the towns, villages and regional districts. The festivities includes church services, street parades, fireworks displays, feasts, dance/music contests, and cockfights.
Most of the people in the Philippines are Christians. About 92% of the people are Christians. Most people in the Philippines belong to the Roman Catholic faith (70%). A sizable percentage of the people are Protestants (many diverse Christian denominations) (17%), Iglesia ni Cristo (2%), Muslims (5-10%), Buddhists (2%). There are also some Hindus and some other minor religions with fewer adherents (6.6%).
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