The Republic of the Philippines is an island nation consisting of an archipelago of 7,107 islands lying in the western Pacific Ocean about 100 kilometers southeast of mainland Asia. It is bordered on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Celebes Sea[?]. To the south are found the Moluccas and Celebes in Indonesia, to the southwest the Malaysian part of Borneo and directly north is Taiwan.
|National motto: Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao,|
Makakalikasan at Makabansa (Filipino: "For
Love of God, People, Nature & Country")
|Official languages||Filipino and English|
- % water
|Ranked 70th |
- Total (2002)
|From the United States
June 12, 1898
July 4, 1946
|Currency||Philippine Peso (PHP)|
|Time zone||UTC +8|
|National anthem||Lupang Hinirang|
The Philippines had been home to a greatly diverse population, trading with China and the Indonesian archipelago for many centuries when the first Europeans arrived, led by Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521. The Spanish claimed and settled the islands and named them after king Philip II. Trade was mostly with New Spain across the Pacific, but the country opened up during the 19th century when an independence movement, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, nearly succeeded in ousting the Spanish by 1898.
That year Spain and the United States fought the Spanish-American War, after which Spain transferred the Philippines to the US. The Philippines had declared independence and the subsequent assertion of American control led to the Philippine-American War that ended in 1913. Independence was finally granted in 1946, after the Japanese had occupied the islands during World War II. The following period was marred by civil unrest, the unpopular rule of Ferdinand Marcos, ousted in 1986, and separatists in Mindanao.
National Government. The government of the Philippines, loosely patterned after the American system, is organized as a representative republic, with the president functioning as both head of state and government, as well as being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a term of 6 years, during which he appoints and presides over the cabinet.
The bicameral Philippine legislature, the Congress[?], consists of the Senate[?] and the House of Representatives[?]; members of both are elected by popular vote. There are 24 senators serving staggered terms of 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[?], which has a Chief Justice as its head and 14 Associate Justices, all appointed by the president.
International Relations. The Philippines is a prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), being one of the founding members. The nation is also an active participant of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and a member of the Group of 24[?].
Local Government. The Philippines is divided into a hierarchy of local government units (LGUs) with the province as the primary unit. As of 2002, there are 79 provinces in the country. Provinces are further subdivided into cities and municipalities, which are in turn, composed of barangays. The barangay is the smallest local government unit.
All provinces are grouped into 17 regions for administrative convenience. Most government offices establish regional offices to serve the constituent provinces. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government, with the exception of the Muslim Mindanao[?] and Cordillera[?] regions, which are autonomous.
¹ Names are capitalised because they are acronyms, containing the names of the constituent provinces or cities.
The Philippines constitute an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 km². The islands are commonly divided into three groups: Luzon (Regions I to V + NCR & CAR), Visayas (VI to VIII), and Mindanao (IX to XIII + ARMM). The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the country's capital and second-largest city after Quezon City[?].
The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5° Celsius. Filipinos generally recognise 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).
Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rainforests and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 m. Many volcanoes in the country, such as the Pinatubo[?], are active. The country is also astride the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and is struck by about 10 typhoons per year.
In 1998 the Philippine economy - a mixture of agriculture, light industry, and supporting services - deteriorated as a result of spillover from the Asian financial crisis and poor weather conditions. Growth fell to 0.6% in 1998 from 5% in 1997, but recovered to about 3% in 1999 and 4% in 2000. The government has promised to continue its economic reforms to help the Philippines match the pace of development in the newly industrialised countries of East Asia.
The strategy includes improving infrastructure, overhauling the tax system to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatisation of the economy, and increasing trade integration with the region. Prospects for the future depend heavily on the economic performance of the two major trading partners, the United States and Japan.
The people of the Philippines are called Filipinos. They live a culture that is a blend of Asian, Islamic, and Western cultures. Over 90% of the population is ethnically Malay[?], descendants of immigrants from the Indonesian archipelago, and the most significant ethnic minority group are the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the 9th century. Small forest tribes live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.
The vast majority of the people are Christians (Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%) and most were converted and Westernised to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Western rule. A large Muslim minority (5%) exists predominantly on the island of Mindanao and Buddhism and other faiths make up the remainder.
Over a hundred native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Austronesian linguistic family. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the official national language, Filipino, which is based on Tagalog. Filipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language for a diverse population. English is seen as the second official language and is used extensively in government, (higher) education and commerce.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Bagong Taon|
|—||Maundy Thursday||Huwebes Santo||Thursday, date varies|
|—||Good Friday||Biyernes Santo||Friday, date varies|
|—||Easter||Linggo ng Pagkabuhay||Sunday, date varies|
|April 9||Valour Day||Araw ng Kagitingan|
|May 1||Labour Day||Araw ng Manggagawa|
|June 12||Independence Day||Araw ng Kalayaan|
|August 31||National Heroes' Day||Araw ng mga Bayani|
|November 1||All Saints Day||Todos los Santos|
|November 30||Bonifacio Day||—||Andres Bonifacio|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Araw ng Pasko|
|December 30||Rizal Day||—||José Rizal|
|December 31||New Year's Eve[?]||—|