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 lies between it and the 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 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.
Main article: Name of the Philippines 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, 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.
The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of the country's history. During the Philippine Revolution, the Malolos Congress proclaimed the establishment of the 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. During the American period the name Philippines began to appear and it has since become the country's common name. The official name of the country is now Republic of the Philippines
Main article: Geography of the Philippines The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area, including inland bodies of water, of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 square miles). Its 36,289 kilometers (22,549 miles) of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world. 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 kilometers 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.
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 meters (9,692 feet) 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.
Ancient Filipinos utilized terrace farming to grow crops in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines. Situated on the western 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. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake. 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. 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. It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. 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.
Flora and fauna
Main article: Ecoregions in the Philippines 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. 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. 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. Endemic species include the tamaraw of Mindoro, the Visayan spotted deer, the Philippine mouse deer, the Visayan warty pig, the Philippine flying lemur, and several species of bats.
The Philippines lacks large 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. Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol. With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands, Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia. The narra is considered as the most important type of hardwood.
Philippine territorial waters encompass as much as 1.67 million square kilometers (640,000 square miles) 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. The Apo Reef is the country's largest contiguous coral reef system and the second-largest in the world. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.
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. Many species are endangered and scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the century. 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."
Main article: Climate of the Philippines Tropical Storm Thelma over the Philippines. The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid. There are three seasons: tag-init or tag-araw, the hot dry season or summer from March to May; tag-ulan, the rainy season from June to November; and tag-lamig, the cool dry 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), the Amihan. Temperatures usually range from 21°C (70°F) to 32°C (90°F) although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May.
The average yearly temperature is around 26.6°C (79.88°F). It doesn't matter so much where in the country one is in terms of latitude and longitude—whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country—temperatures at sea level tend to be the same. Altitude usually has more of an impact. For example the average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level is 18.3°C (64.9°F), making it a popular destination during hot summers.
Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October, with around 19 typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year and 8 to 9 making landfall. Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (200 inches) in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) in some of the sheltered valleys.
Native Languages (2000) 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
Languages of the Philippines Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 no longer have any 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.
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 Filipino 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.
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.
Main article: Religion in the Philippines More than 90% of the population are Christians: about 80% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while 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, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Orthodox Church. The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor.
Between 5% and 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. 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.
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. Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religion, are dominant in Chinese communities. There are also followers of Baha'i.
Culture and society
Main articles: Culture of the Philippines, Literature of the Philippines, Music of the Philippines, and Original Pilipino Music Percussion instruments 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 exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences.
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.
The Basilica Minore de San Sebastián One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos. However, a Spanish name and surname does not necessarily 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. 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. Some examples remain, 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. Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic-styled houses and buildings preserved there.
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. Filipinos regularly listen to and watch contemporary American, Asian, and European music and film just as they enjoy Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and local films.
Main article: Filipino cuisine 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.
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. The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in less urbanized areas.
Mythology and literature
Main articles: Philippine literature and Philippine mythology 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.
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.
Main articles: Cinema of the Philippines, Television in the Philippines, and Philippine drama 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.
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, Showtime, 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.
Sports and recreation
Main article: Sports in the Philippines 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. Basketball is played at both amateur and professional levels and is considered to be the most popular sport in the Philippines. In almost every corner of the cities, there is a basketball court.
Some Filipinos widely recognized for their achievements include Francisco Guilledo, Flash Elorde, and Manny Pacquiao in boxing; Paulino Alcántara in football (soccer); Carlos Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski, and Ramon Fernandez in basketball; Efren Reyes in billiards; Eugene Torre in chess; and Rafael Nepomuceno in bowling.
Traditional Filipino games such as luksung baka, patintero, piko, and tumbang preso are still played primarily as children's games among the youth. 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. Arnis is the national martial art and sport.