Demographics of the Philippines

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Demographics of Philippines, Data of FAO, year 2005 ; Number of inhabitants in thousands.

According to Philippine government statistics and current census data, some 95% of the population is ethnically Malay, descendants of immigrants from the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia, who arrived long before the Christian era. The most significant non-native ethnic minority are the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the 9th century when they first arrived in the Philippines for trade. Mestizos, those of mixed race, form a tiny but economically and politically important minority. Small communities of expatriates, and Negrito forest tribes that inhabit the more remote areas of Mindanao, constitute the remainder.

The people of the Philippines are known as Filipinos. Throughout the colonial era the term "Filipino" originally referred to only the Spanish and Spanish-mestizo minority. The definition, however, was later changed to include the entire population of the Philippines regardless of ethnic origin. Ironically, the term now somewhat excludes the Spanish-mestizo minority who are perceived by some Filipinos, and by many Spanish-mestizos themselves, to be foreign.


Ethnic Groups

  • Malays, accounting for 95%, they form the bulk of the population and number around 80 million. Many live poverty stricken lives, though some can now be found among the middle class. Most are citydwellers, although a great number still live traditional lifestyles in the mountains and rural areas. The most numerous of these are the Tagalog, the Visayan and the Ilokano. Most speak tribal languages and/or Filipino and the other major languages, again Visayan and Ilokano.
  • Chinese, they form the most significant non-native element in the country. Most are successful and prosperous business people. They form part of both the upper and middle classes. Their primary languages are English, Chinese and Filipino. They number around 1.5 million, close to 2% of the population. Chinese-mestizos included they would number close to 3 million. They are differentiated into two groups: Min Nan (Fukien) Chinese and Yueh (Cantonese). The Fukien Chinese form the vast majority of the Chinese population in the Philippines. They mostly form a part of the country's elite, and are quite wealthy. They run a disproportionate proportion of the country's businesses. Nevertheless, there do exist poor Chinese, many of them Cantonese and more recent immigrants from China. They may also be known as 'Chinatown Chinese'. See furtherdown, Chinese-mestizo
  • Mestizos, they form a tiny but economically and politically important minority. The combined number of all types of mestizos constitute no more than 2% of the entire Filipino population. Mestizos in the Philippines may be of any race combination or ratio. Mestizos are categorized as follows:
    • Spanish-Mestizo, a combination of ethnic Malay with either Spanish (Castillian, Galician, Basque, etc) or Mexican. Their features are distinguished by aquiline nose structures, light to darked hair, and generally lighter skinned and usually taller than the average unmixed Malay stock. Spanish-mestizos speak Filipino, though English is their primary language. Some have preserved Spanish as the spoken language of the home. They constitute the great majority of both upper, middle class and rarely intermingle with those outside their ethnic group. A great majority are either in politics or high-ranking executives of commerce and industry. Many can be found in the entertainment industry. There are around 1 million, and are found mainly in Manila and a few other metropolitan areas including Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Zamboanga. They are also known as Tisoy. Many Spanish-mestizos and Spaniards living in the Philippine emigrated to either the United States or Spain following World War II and during the Marcos regime.
There are approximately 17,000 Spaniards (7,000 Basque and 10,000 Castillian) living in the Philippines. Although these Spaniards have been taken into account in the last entry detailing all other smaller communities, it should be noted that they are completely integrated into the Spanish-mestizo upper levels of Filipino society. Most Filipino family dynasties and the elite clans are mestizo; such examples are the Ayala, Aboitiz, Zobel, Araneta, Madrigal, Fernan, Gallego and Ortigas. The most famous Spanish-mestisa outside of the Philippines is Isabel Preysler, ex-wife of Julio Iglesias, and mother of Enrique Iglesias.
    • Chinese-Mestizo, a combination of ethnic Malay and Chinese. They are usually light skinned and quite mainland-Mongoloid in appearance, with highly epicanthic eyes. Much like the Chinese, most are successful and prosperous business people. They form part of both the upper, middle and lower classes. Some are also in the entertainment industry. Their primary languages are English, Chinese and Filipino. They number just over 1 million and are most concentrated in Manila (Binondo) and Pampanga. They are commonly known as Chinoys or Chinitos.
    • Japanese-Mestizo, a combination of ethnic Malay with Japanese or Okinawan. Many are descendants of the Japanese Catholics that fled Japan 300 years ago and are members of the lower class. Many exiled Japanese Christians, led by the Christian Samurai Takayama Ukon, settled in Dilao, Paco in 1614. Because of discrimination encountered, some fled to the mountains after World War II while many others changed their names in the attempts to assimilate. Many were also killed (c. 10,000 Japanese Mestizos and Japanese) while other were deported following World War II as an act of retaliation. Their sense of Japaneseness may take on extremes, some have completely lost their Japanese identity while others have "returned" to Japan, the homeland of their forebears. There is also a number of contemporary Japanese-mestizos, not associated with the history of the earlier established ones, born either in the Philippines or Japan. These latter are the resultant of unions between Filipinos and recent Japanese immigrants to the Philippines or Japanese and immigrant Filipino workers in Japan. Most Japanese-mestizos speak tribal languages and Filipino. There are believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 Japanese-mestizos in the country, but no accurate figure is currently available. Significant numbers reside in Davao, Pampanga and Baguio. They may also be known as Japinos, although this term is considered derogatory by many. Examples of Japanese-mestizos include Ferdinand Marcos (Imee Marcos's father), and Tamlyn Tomita.
    • American-Mestizo, a combination of ethnic Malay and American (regardless of race). They are also known as Amerasians. They can be found in the upper class, but also amongst the middle and lower classes as a result of the abandonment of their American fathers upon completion of military service and subsequent withdrawal of US forces. Much like Spanish-mestizos, for those whose American ancestry was Caucasian or Latino/Hispanic-American. The number of American-mestizos is thought to be between 20,000 and 30,000. Most speak Filipino and English. The majority are to be found in Angeles City, which has the largest proportion of Amerasians in the Philippines [1] (,9754,106430,00.html), but also Manila and Olongapo City.
    • Other various types of mestizos from unions of Filipinos other nationalities may also exist, many of them are are also in the entertainment industry.
  • East Indians, they are mostly merchants and belong primarily to the middle class. There are approximately 30,000 East Indians and half of them are Sindhis who left India after the British partitioned India and the other half is the Sikhs whom many of whom have traditionally been rural money-lenders. The Sindhi businessmen are often part of Manila’s rich elite. Most speak Filipino, Punjabi or Sindhi, and English. They (particularly the Sikhs) are collectively known as Bombay (büm'bäi) and 5-6, all of which are derogatory terms.
  • Arabs, they are the descendants of the missionaries that spread Islam throughout the Malay Archipielago (the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia). There are approximately 31,000 Arabs in the Philippines and they speak Arabic and Tagalog. They are overwhealmingly Islamic, though recent immigrants may be Christian Arabs, and are classified together with the Moros. Some have intermarried and simply became Moros.
  • Negritos, Negritos are the pre-Malay inhabitants of the Philippines, closely related to the Papuans, and ethnically different from the other Filipinos. They are the aboriginal peoples of the Philippines. They are the poorest and most disadvantaged class of the Filipino population. Their numbers have been decreasing rapidly and are thought to number between 20,000 and 30,000. Most speak their tribal languages and have little or no understanding of Filipino. The government has sponsored educational programmes as well as encouraging school attendance, though many of them still enounter difficulties. They are also known by their other names, such as Aeta, in Zambales, Ita in Pampanga, Ati in Panay, Baluga in Abra and Pampanga, Dumagat in Aurora, and Remontados in Rizal and Quezon.

Other smaller communities of expatriates from various countries also exist and they include 110,000 Americans of any race (but excludes Military forces and Filipino-American mestizos). Most of them are either businessmen or missionaries; Caucasians from Europe, Canada, and Australia who sought economic and investment opportunities; 35,000 Indonesians, most of whom are either illegal immigrants, refugees, but also many students; around 30,000 Japanese and Koreans who are mostly recently arrived immigrants also seeking economic and investment opportunities. There are also thousands of Vietnamese who found refuge in the Philippines following the Vietnam War, most of them live in Palawan. Some of these Vietnamese may be of mixed European (French colonist or American G.I.) and Vietnamese parentage.


Main article: Religion in the Philippines

Religion in the Philippines plays a very important role in the Filipino Society. The Majority of the people belong to the Christian religion which makes up (94%) of the population.

The majority of Christians are Catholics with (83%); followed by Protestant with (9%); Islam with (5%); Buddhism and Hinduism make up the remainder with (3%).

Catholics and Protestants were converted during 425 years of Western domination by Spain and the United States. 333 years of Spanish rule was responsible for converting the majority of the people to Roman Catholicism. Protestant denominations were introduced to the Philippines primarily during the 37 years of American occupation.

Islam and Buddhism was brought by both Arab and Chinese traders during the 9th and 14th century to the archipelago.


Main article: Languages of the Philippines

A total of one hundred seventy-two 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. English is the predominant non-native language. Other foreign languages spoken are Chinese (Hokkien) and Cantonese Chinese, among the Chinese and Chinese-mestizo population; Arabic and Malay among some members of the Muslim population; and Spanish preserved and spoken by some families within the Spanish-mestizo minority.


The Negritos are the aboriginal peoples of the Philippines. In 1911, they were described as follows :

  • The men are about 4 ft. 10 in. average height, the women are shorter. Their colour is black, their skull decidedly round, their hair frizzy, their legs thin, their toes prehensile. They tatoo themselves and wear only a g-string. They have no fixed abodes but roam about in groups of a few families. They are skilful with the bow and in throwing stones, and they can easily kindle a fire, even in the wet season, by rubbing together two pieces of dry bamboo. Their food consisted principally of game, roots, and wild fruits. The women, who do all the work, collect wax and wild honey, which are their principal staples in trade. Few Negritos live to be fifty years of age.

The next people to come are called Indonesians (which may be related to the Papuans, rather to the Malays). These people are taller than the Malays, and have some Caucasoid features. Their descendants in the Philippines. Their descendants include the people of the province of Benguet, such as the Ibalois, the Kankane-ys, and the Itogons.

Some time between the coming of the Indonesians and the Malays, the Australoid-Sakai, and the Proto-Malays came. They are much smaller than both the Indonesians and the Malays, and were quickly absorbed by the Negrito and the Malay peoples.

The last native ethnic people, the Malays came from the south, in successive waves of immigration beginning in pre-historic times. They came in three successive waves, and are composed of 23 distinct groupings, varying widely in culture, language, and appearance. Their languages however belong to one common stock. The Moros were the last of the Malays to migrate to the islands; they came after their conversion to Islam. Slavery was common among them.

Soon after the native migrations, the next people to come to the Philippines are the Chinese, closely followed by the Hindus, Persians, and Arabs.

The Spanish Colonial Era has had influenced the racial mixture of the country. It has been said that during the Spanish colonial period one-third of the population of Luzon were of Spanish origin, although this has not been verified. Spanish texts often distinguished Indios of the Philippines into two types- Luzon Indios and Bisaya-Mindanao Indios. The former, they say, are less rough, more graceful, and more Spanish looking than the latter, which they said, were indistinguishable with the Malays from the Malay peninsula. It has also been said that in Laguna (during the Spanish era), most of the people are 'good looking', which may be attributed to the Spanish blood present in the people, 'due to its nearness to the capital'. Reference: Les Philippines, Jean Mallat, 1846.

According to Dr. H. Otley Beyer,a noted American anthropologist, the racial ancestry of Filipinos is as follows (that is, according to him, all Filipinos have their ancestry in the proportions below): Malay-40%, Indonesian-30%, CHinese-10%, Negrito-10%, Indian (Hindu)-5%, European and American-3%, and Arab-2%.

1903 census

In 1903 the population of the Philippines2 was 7,635,426, including 56,138 foreign-born. In the 100 years since the 1903 census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven.

By city or towns exceeding 10,000:

There were 13,400 villages, nearly 75% of which had fewer than 600 inhabitants.

By race or ethnicity:

  • Malay: 7,539,632 (98.7%)
  • Chinese: 42,097 (0.6%)
  • Mestizo: 15,419 (0.2%)
  • Negrito: 23,511 (0.3%)
  • Caucasian: 14,271 (0.2%) [Spaniards and White US Servicemen]
  • Negro: 505 (0.01%) [Black US Servicemen]

The ethnic Malay population divided by language:

  • Christian
    • Visayan: 3,219,030
    • Tagalog: 1,460,695
    • Ilocano: 803,942
    • Bicol: 566,635
    • Pangasinan: 343,686
    • Pampangan: 280,984
    • Cagayan: 159,648
  • Muslim
    • Moro: 277,547
  • Igorot
    • Igorot: 211,520


In 1941 the estimated population of the Philippines reached 17,000,000. Manila's population was 684,000.

The number of Chinese living on the island had risen to 117,000. There were also around 30,000 Japanese living in the Philippines, with some 20,000 of them residing in Davao, Mindanao, and 9,000 Americans lived in Luzon.

By then, some 27% of the population could speak English as a second language, while the number of those able to speak Spanish had further fallen to 3%. Tagalog has been the official language (since 1937), though twice as many people spoke Visayan at that time.

Other information

Template:Mergefrom Population: 86,241,697 (July 2004 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 36.2% (male 15,625,480; female 15,028,498)
  • 15-64 years: 59.9% (male 25,206,467; female 25,485,482)
  • 65 years and over: 3.9% (male 1,427,238; female 1,846,809) (2003 est.)

Median age:
total: 21.8 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 22.4 years (2002)

Population growth rate: 1.92% (2003 est.)

Birth rate: 26.3 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Death rate: 5.6 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2003 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.91 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 27.9 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.29 years
male: 66.44 years
female: 72.28 years (2003 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.29 children born/woman (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 9,400 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths: 720 (2001 est.)

noun: Filipino
adjective: Philippine

Ethnic groups: Christian Malay 91.5%, Muslim Malay 4%, Chinese 1.5%, other 3%

Religions: Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5% (See Islam in Philippines), Buddhist and other 3%

Languages: two official languages - Filipino (formerly Pilipino, based on Tagalog) and English; eight major dialects - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligayno, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, and Pangasinan

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.9%
male: 96%
female: 95.8% (2003 est.)


Note 1: "Negrito", 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (Public Domain) Note 2: "Philippines", 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (Public Domain)

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