- About the Philippines
- The Filipino People
- The Economy
- Why Visit the Country?
- When to Visit
- Entering the Country
- Moving Around the Islands
About the Philippines
The Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. To its west across the South China Sea is 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 about 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the population residing outside the country. 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.
The country has a rich history due to its diverse ethnic heritage, as well as foreign rule and influences. Negritos and later Austronesian peoples were the earliest inhabitants of the archipelago. The latter brought 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 rule, that lasted over three centuries. The Philippines became the Asian hub of the Manila-Acapulco galleon, a trade route that linked Asia and America for the first time in history. Spanish rule introduced western civilization to the Philippines, and spread Christianity.
At the end of the 19th century there followed the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War which ended Spanish rule, leading to the short-lived First Philippine Republic. During the Philippine-American War the Filipino forces fought for independence, but the United States became the new ruling 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 its democratic presidential bicameral system of government. 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 Motto of the Country: Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa (“For God, People, Nature, and Country”)