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The Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), or the Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), is a nation in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital. It lies 1,210 km (750 mi) away from mainland Asia and consists of 7,107 islands. It is part of the Malay Archipelago.

Republika ng Pilipinas
Republic of the Philippines
Flag of the Philippines Coat of Arms of the Philippines
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa (Filipino: For the Love of God, People, Nature, and Country)
Anthem: Lupang Hinirang(Land of the Morning)
Location of the Philippines
Capital Manila
14°35′ N 121°0′ E
Largest city Quezon City (population)
Davao City (area)
Official languages Filipino (Tagalog), English 1
Government Democratic Unitary Republic
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Noli de Castro
  - Declared
  - Recognized

  - First Republic
  - Commonwealth and
     Third Republic
  - Second Republic
  - New Republic
  - Current
From Spain and U.S.
June 12, 1898
July 4, 1946

January 21, 1899
May 14, 1935

January 17, 1973
March 25, 1986
 • Total
 • Water (%)
300,000 km² (71st)
 • July 2005 est.
 • 2000 census
 • Density
87,857,473 (12th)
276/km² (27th)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
$409,445 million (25th)
$4,770 (107th)
Currency Philippine peso (piso) (PHP)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
UTC +8 (UTC+8)
Internet TLD .ph
Calling code +63
1 Under the Constitution of 1987, the national language is Filipino while the official languages are Filipino and English.

The regional languages Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug are the auxiliary official languages in their respective regions.

It is, with East Timor, one of the two predominantly Catholic nations in Southeast Asia and one of the most westernized, a unique blend of East and West. Spain and the United States have held the Philippine Islands as a colony for most of the last four centuries. While still predominantly an agricultural nation, the Philippines today is a player in outsourcing, an exporter of electronics and agricultural products, and is a major source of exported labor. Remittances from overseas Filipinos forms a significant portion of the country's Gross National Product.

The country's name originated with Ruy López de Villalobos naming both the islands of Samar and Leyte, Las Islas Felipinas after King Philip II of Spain during his failed expedition in 1543. The archipelago was known under various names such as Spanish East Indies, New Castille (Nueva Castilla), Western Islands (Islas del Poniente), the St. Lazarus Islands (Islas de San Lázaro) and others. Ultimately, Filipinas came to refer to the entire archipelago.



Main article: History of the Philippines

The Philippines has been inhabited for thousands of years. It is theorized that aborigines collectively known as Negritos or Aetas crossed prehistoric land and ice bridges. Later, waves of Austronesian-speaking migrants - the ancestors of today's maintsream ethnic Filipinos - crossed from Southern China via Taiwan. Ethnic Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century. Powerful Buddhist and Hindu empires rose in Southeast Asia. Essentially, the islands were autonomous.

Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in the archipelago in 1521. On April 27, 1565, the Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and 500 armed soldiers came to Cebu and established the first Spanish settlement on the islands.

Augustinian and Franciscan friars, marched with the soldiers from island to island finding thousands of native villages and peoples. The Spaniards soon established churches and forts, while searching for gold and spices. Roman Catholicism was introduced and adopted by the majority. Sporadic rebellions occurred from tribal groups in the highlands of north Luzon and coastal regions. Muslim belligerents maintained resistance in the southern islands of Mindanao, a trend that rages on today. The Spanish military had to fight off the Chinese pirates, the Japanese and Portuguese, Dutch and British forces.

The Philippines was ruled from New Spain-(Mexico), and a burgeoning Manila Galleon or Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began in the late 16th century.

In 1781, Governor José Basco y Vargas established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country. Philippines was administered directly from Spain. Developments in and out of the country and the opening up of the Suez Canal in 1869, which helped cut travel time to Spain, brought new ideas to the Philippines. This prompted the rise of the ilustrados, or the enlightened Filipino upper middle class. Many young Filipinos were thus able to study in Europe.

Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government and the frailocracy, they originally clamored for adequate representation to the Spanish Cortes and later for independence. José Rizal, the most celebrated intellectual, was executed in 1896 for treason as Rizal was implicated in the outbreak of the Revolution. The Katipunan was founded by Andrés Bonifacio as its Supremo or leader. It was a secret society for the sole purpose of overthrowing Spanish rule in the Philippines. However, the society was discovered by Fr. Mariano Gil who broke his vow of confession and reported to the Spanish authorities the confession of a parishioner who was a sister of a Katipunero. The Philippine Revolution broke out. The Katipunan being divided into two groups, Magdiwang led by Andrés Bonifacio, and Magdalo led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution ended in a truce with the Pact of Biak na Bato, where the revolutionaries capitulated and agreed to exile themselves in Hong-Kong.

The United States and Spain became involved in the Spanish-American war in 1898. Emilio Aguinaldo was then lured back to the Philippines with a supposed promise of independence similar to Cuba, which was fighting a war of independence. Thus, on June 12, 1898, with victory seemingly attainable, Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the revolutionaries, declared the independence of the Philippines in Kawit, Cavite. However, the Battle for Manila between Spain and the United States turned out to be a farce, which sought to exclude the Filipinos from the eventual occupation of Manila. Spain and the United States ignored the Filipino representative, Felipe Agoncillo, during their negotiations in the Treaty of Paris. Spain was forced by Paris officials to hand over Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States in exchange for US$20,000,000.00, which the United States later claim to be a gift. The first Philippine Republic rebelled against the US occupation and this resulted in the Philippine-American War (1899-1913). It came under U.S. control and in 1935, its status was upgraded to that of a U.S. Commonwealth. Independence for the Philippines was finally granted on July 4, 1946, after the Japanese invasion and occupation of the islands during World War II.

The Philippines has faced some degree of economic and political instability after 1946. The restive Hukbalahaps, guerillas who fought against the Japanese during World War II, threatened the countryside, and consequently the capital, Quezon City, and Manila in the '50's after their representative was cheated in the elections and ousted from Congress. The Huk threat was eventually solved with the surrender of Luis Taruc, the Huk Supremo, to Benigno Aquino Jr. (later elected as Senator), and Secretary of Defense Ramón Magsaysay, who would eventually become president. The late '60's and early '70's saw the rise of student activism, and anti-American demonstrations. Furthermore, a Constitutional Convention composed of elected delegates drafted a new constitution to replace the 1935 Constitution in a referendum. This period was marred by civil unrest and exposés on corruption until the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972. The new constitution was subsequently enforced through somewhat questionable means, as challenges were made in the Supreme Court on the propriety of its ratification. This eventually caused the resignation of Chief Justice Roberto Concepción. The situation appeared to calm down until the later years when the authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos was marred with corruption, and despotism.

In 1986, Marcos, his family and some allies left the Philippines and exiled to Hawaii, as Corazon Aquino, widow of assassinated Sen. Benigno Aquino, assumed the reins of government in the aftermath of a hotly-contested "snap elections". While some cite a return to democracy and governmental reform in the Post-Marcos era, systemic government corruption, continuing civil unrest and the activity of Communist insurgency and Muslim separatist movements continue to hamper economic productivity in the country. The country has seen two Presidential crises during this time, the most recent being the 2005 Philippine electoral crisis.

Politics and foreign relations

Main article: Politics of the Philippines

The government is loosely patterned after the U.S. government. It is organized as a representative republic, where the President functions as head of state, the head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a term of 6 years, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet. The bicameral 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 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.

The Philippines is a founding and active member of the United Nations (UN) since its inception on October 24, 1945 and a founding and prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an active player in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union and a member of the Group of 24. The Philippines is a major non-NATO ally of the United States, but also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Philippines is currently in a dispute with the Republic of China (Taiwan), the People's Republic of China, Vietnam and Malaysia over the oil- and natural gas-rich Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, and with Malaysia over Sabah. The Sultan of Sulu, who received Sabah as a gift in 1703 after having helped the Sultan of Brunei defeat a rebellion, has given the Philippine Government power to reclaim his lost territory. To this day, the Sultan of Sulu's family still receives "rental" payments for Sabah from the Malaysian Government.

Provinces and regions

Main articles: Provinces of the Philippines, Regions of the Philippines
Provinces and regions of the Philippines
Provinces and regions of the Philippines

The Philippines is divided into a hierarchy of local government units (LGUs) with the province as the primary unit. 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.

The Philippines is divided into 17 regions with all provinces grouped into one of 16 regions for administrative convenience. The National Capital Region however, is divided into four special districts.

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 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is autonomous.

Go to the articles on the regions and provinces to see a larger map showing the locations of the regions and provinces.


¹ Names are capitalized because they are acronyms, containing the names of the constituent provinces or cities (see Acronyms in the Philippines).
² These regions formed the former Southern Tagalog region, or Region IV.


Main article: Geography of the Philippines
The geography of the Philippines
The geography of the Philippines

The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 km². It lies between 116° 40' and 126° 34' E. longitude, and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude. 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. The island of Borneo lies a few hundred kilometers to the southwest and Taiwan directly north. The Moluccas and Celebes are farther south, and on the eastern side of the Philippine Sea is Palau.

The islands are commonly divided into three major 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. 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 Taglamig (the cold season from December to February). The southwest monsoon (May-October) is known as the "Habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (November-April) as the "Amihan".

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 Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo and Taal Volcano, are active. The country is also astride the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and is struck by about 19 typhoons per year.

Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Some 20 earthquakes are registered daily in the Philippines, though they are too weak to be felt.


Main article: Economy of the Philippines

In 1998 the 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 match the pace of development in the newly industrialised countries of East Asia. Heavy debt (public debt at 77% of GDP), is hampering efforts to improve the economic situation. Budget allocation for servicing of debt is higher than the budget for the Department of Education and for the military combined.

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, and a more accountable administration and consistent government policies.

The Philippines is a member of the Asian Development Bank.

In recent years, numerous call centers and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms have migrated to the Philippines generating thousands of jobs and improving their services with many clients, including Fortune 500 companies. The Philippines has one of the most vibrant BPO industries in Asia today.


Main article: Demographics of the Philippines

See also: Ethnic Groups of the Philippines

The Philippines is the world's twelfth most populous country, with a population of 86,241,697 as of 2005. Roughly two-thirds are residing in the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The educational system is very efficient and based on United States curriculum. The literacy rate is 95.9%, with 95.8% for females and 96% for males. The sex ratio is roughly equal. Population growth per year is about 1.92% with 26.3 births per 1000 . Life expectancy is 69.29 years with 72.28 years for females and 66.44 years for males. In the 100 years since the 1903 Census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven. The country suffers from overpopulation due to a high birth rate.

The people of the Philippines are collectively known as Filipinos. Colloquially, Filipinos may refer to themselves as Pinoy (feminine: Pinay).

The vast majority of the population are descended from Austronesian-speaking migrants who arrived in the archipelago in successive waves over a thousand years ago. These are divided into 12 major native groups, namely the the Tagalogs, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Ilonggos, Bicolanos, Pampangos, Pangasinenses, Karay-as, Warays, Maranaos, Maguindanaos, and Tausugs, and then numerous other smaller groups. The Negritos or Aetas, also known as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, were largely displaced by the invading Austronesian-speaking migrants, and today number less than 30,000 people. The Mestizos, those of any mixed native/foreign ancestry are a significant minority. The largest minority of foreign nationality groups in the country are the ethnic Chinese. They are mostly business people. The remaining population consists of other smaller foreign nationality groups, including North Americans, Europeans, Spaniards, Latin Americans, Arabs, South Asians, Indonesians, Vietnamese, and various other ethnic Asian immigrants.

Because of the vast number of native ethno-linguistic groups, the Philippines is said to be one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Asia. In recent decades, the government has worked to make the country more culturally homogeneous. However, there has been notable resistance among the various ethno-linguistic groups to preserve their unique cultural and linguistic identities, which are a source of immense pride for many people within the Republic of the Philippines; many are against what are perceived as attempts by certain Filipino nationalists to erradicate cultural diversity in place of a homogenous, Tagalog-dominated "nationalistic" Filipino identity. A recent manifestation of this can be seen in the complaints of many from the provinces that "Imperial Manila" dominates, oppresses, and exploits the people and resources of the rest of the country.


More than 170 languages are spoken and almost all of them belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. According to the 1987 Constitution, Tagalog-based Filipino and English are the official languages.

There are 12 native regional languages and are the auxilary languages of their respective regions, each with over one million speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Bikol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug.

Other major foreign languages spoken include Spanish, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Arabic.

For more details on this topic, see Languages of the Philippines.


92 % of all Filipinos are Christians. 83 % belong to the Roman Catholic Church.The other 9 % belonging to various Protestant denominations. There are two native churches, the Philippine Independent Church, founded by Gregorio Aglipay and the Iglesia ni Cristo, founded by Felix Manalo.

The Roman Catholic church exerts considerable influence in the both governmental and non-governmental affairs, although there is a constitutional provision for the separation of Church and State. The Philippines currently has two cardinals, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Jose Cardinal Sanchez. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin was a leading spiritual leader in the country and was an active participant in People Power I and People Power II. He died on June 21, 2005. Cardinal Vidal is the archbishop of Cebu. Cardinal Sanchez is the former Prefect of Congregation of the Clergy, Roman Curia. Gaudencio Rosales serves as the archbishop of Manila. The most famous cathedral is the huge Manila Cathedral.

The various Protestant denominations are linked with North American churches and there is a significant presence of American missionaries. Many rural people believe in ghosts, anting-antings (lucky charms), mythical creatures, and certain superstitions.

Five percent of all Filipinos are Muslim. The form of Islam as practiced by most lowland Muslim Filipinos is in the most part normative Islam, although the practices of some Mindanaoan hilltribe Muslims reflect a fusion with Animism; the pre-Islamic and pre-Christian spirituality of Filipinos.

Two Filipino independent churches were organized at the turn of the century and are prominent today. These are the Aglipay (Philippine Independent Church) and the Iglesia Ni Kristo (Church of Christ) founded in 1902 and 1914, respectively. Recently the Aglipay signed a covenant with the Anglican Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo has expanded its membership considerably. Its churches, with their unique towering architecture are landmarks in almost all important towns, provincial capitals and major cities.


Main article: Culture of the Philippines

Related article: Philippine Society

Jeepneys, renovated relics of WWII, are ubiquitous and are the standard mode of transportaion in urban and rural areas. Catholic churches are jampacked on Sundays. Tricycles are also frequently seen. In Metro Manila and Cebu, airport-size malls are a favorite hangout for Filipinos. Filipinos are huge fans of basketball. There are many Spanish Catholic festivals (fiestas). In rural areas, carabaos are found everywhere. Rice is the staple.

The broad foundation of the culture comes from regional indigenous groups such as the Tagalos, Ilokanos, Visayans, Bikolanos, and other indigenous Austronesian-speaking groups of the country. The Hispanic influences in the culture of the Philippines are largely derived from the culture of Mexico and the culture of Spain and are the result of over three hundred years of colonial rule. Hispanic influences are most visible in the form of customs and practices related to the Catholic church, especially in religious festivals.

A significant minority in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are influenced by Islamic traditions and culture. Since the 20th century, American culture has influenced and shaped the Philippine cultural settings.

Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of Filipino nationalism. José Rizal is the most celebrated ilustrado, a visionary whose writings created a national identity and awareness. His novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, required readings for Filipino students, provide vignettes of colonial life under the Spanish and give a sense of Filipino identity and historical continuity. Andrés Bonifacio founded the pro-independence Katipunan movement which was instrumental in ending Spanish rule. He is the subject of disputes if he, not Rizal, should be the national hero. Ninoy Aquino is highly revered as the martyr of the People Power revolution.

Notable and revered athletes include boxing champions Flash Elorde, Manuel Pacquiao, and 1996 Atlanta Olympics silver-medalist Mansueto Velasco; billiards champions Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante; chess champion Eugene Torre, among many others. Professional Basketball players are idolized.

See also

Main article: List of Philippine-related topics

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