The Republic of the Philippines (Tagalog: Republika ng Pilipinas), or The Philippines (Tagalog: Pilipinas), also known as the Pearl of the Orient Seas, is an independent sovereign nation of southeast Asia. It lies 1,210 km (750 mi) away from mainland Asia consisting of 7,107 islands and forms a part of the Malay Archipelago.

Republika ng Pilipinas
Republic of the Philippines
Flag of the Philippines The Philippines: Coat of Arms
(National Flag) (National Coat of Arms)
National motto: Maka-Diyos, Maka-kalikasan, Makatao at Makabansa
(Filipino: For the Love of God, Nature, People and Country)
Missing image
Location of the Philippines

Official languages Filipino, English
Major regional languages Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug
Capital Manila
Largest city Quezon City
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 71st
300,000 km
 - Total (2004)
 - Density
Ranked 12th
 - Declared

From Spain
June 12, 1898 (official)

GDP (2003)
  - Total
  - Total
  - GDP/capita
  - GDP/capita

$352.18 billion (25th) (PPP)
$92.58 billion (48th) (nominal)
$4,321 (103rd) (PPP)
$989 (118th) (nominal)
Currency 1 Philippine peso (piso) = 100 centavos (sentimos)
Time zone UTC +8
National anthem Lupang Hinirang (Beloved Land)
Internet TLD .ph
ISO Country Code PH
Calling Code +63
1 Under the Constitution of 1987, the national language is Filipino and English.

The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in their respective regions. <p>Spanish have no official status but are used on an "voluntary and optional basis."</small>

Over the period of 256 years, the Philippines was a Spanish colony (1565-1821) and for 77 years after that was elevated to the dignity of a Spanish province (1821-1898). For three years it was an American colony (1898-1901) followed by 34 years as a United States unincorporated territory in the form of a commonwealth (1901-1935). These years under external rule greatly influenced the culture and society of the Philippines. The nation is known for its Roman Catholic Church and strong western heritage. It is one of the two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia, a distinction it shares with East Timor.

The Philippines was the most developed country in Asia immediately following World War II, but has since lagged behind other countries because of poor economic growth, government confiscation of wealth, widespread corruption, and neo-colonial influences. Currently, the country attains a moderate economic growth, buoyed by remittances by its large, diasporic overseas Filipino workforce and booming information technology.

The country's major problems include an ongoing Muslim separatist movement in southern Mindanao, the New People's Army communist insurgencies in rural areas, historically inconsistent government policies, rising crime levels, and environmental degradation such as rainforest depletion and marine and coastal pollution. The country also suffers from overpopulation in its urban centers due to lack of jobs in the rural areas and having a high birth rate, which is far above the replacement rate and until recently was one of the highest in all of Asia.




Human fossil records indicate that the Philippines may have been inhabited for thousands of years. Its aboriginal population, collectively known as the Negritos or Aetas, crossed prehistoric land or ice bridges to eventually settle in the islands' lush forests. Other migrants from the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago, and from Indochina and Taiwan, settled around the turn of the first millennium.

Asian interaction, Buddhist Kingdoms

Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century. The rise of powerful Buddhist kingdoms precipitated trade with the Indonesian archipelago, India, Japan and Southeast Asia. Factional fighting among the kingdoms of Southeast Asia weakened their strength and thus, making it easy for foreign influences to take root.

In the meantime, the spread of Islam through commerce and proselytism brought traders and missionaries into the region, much like Christianity was spread; Arabs set foot in Mindanao in the 14th century. When the first Europeans arrived, led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, there were rajahs as far north as Manila, who historically were tributaries of the kingdoms of Southeast Asia, specifically, the Sri Vishayan Empire. However, the islands were essentially self-sufficient and self-ruling.

Spanish colonization

The Spanish claimed and colonized the archipelago in 1565 led by the Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lpez de Legaspi who sailed from New Spain (present-day Mexico), arrived and settled in Cebu. Ruy Lpez de Villalobos named the archipelago "Las Islas Filipinas" after King Felipe II. Augustinian and Franciscan friars marched with Spanish soldiers from island to island establishing forts and preaching Christianity.

Roman Catholicism was immediately introduced and would come to be adopted by the majority of the population, through missionary work, as well as the Laws of the Indies and several restrictive edicts. Some resistance came from tribal groups in the highlands and the Muslim separatism, a trend that rages on today. Sporadic rebellions and violence erupted in the coastal populations throughout the next three centuries in response to colonial abuses and lack of reforms. The new territory was ruled from New Spain, and a burgeoning Manila Galleon or Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began in the 16th century.

Spanish challenges

During the colonial period, the natives did not think of themselves as Filipinos. Instead they were referred to as either Indio (Indian) or the name of their respective ethnolinguistic group. Spanish rule was harsh and this led to several native revolts demanding for equal rights. The military and the government would quell uprisings from one region with natives from another in accordance with Roman military principle, Divide et impera. In the story of Diego Silang, for instance, natives from Macabebe and Pampanga were used as soldiers against the rebellion in Ilocos.

Serious challenges to Spanish rule began in 1761 when Spain involved herself in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) declaring war on Great Britain. In 1762, colonial forces of the British East India Company captured Manila after a fierce struggle. In accordance with the 1763 Treaty of Paris ending the war between Great Britain against Spain and France, The Philippines was returned to Spain. Defeat from the hands of British however, inspired resistance from Filipino rebels such as Diego Silang who in 1762 expelled the Spanish from the coastal city of Vigan.

The Spanish, tied down by fighting with the British and the rebels during the Seven Years War were unable to control the raids of the Moros of the south on the Christian communities of the Visayan Islands and Luzon. Thousands of Christian Filipinos were captured as slaves, and Moro raids continued to be a serious problem through the remainder of the century.

The Chinese community, resentful of Spanish discrimination, for the most part enthusiastically supported the British, providing them with laborers and armed men who fought de Anda in Pampanga.

Rizal, the Propaganda Movement, and the Revolution

The islands' economy began to open up during the 19th century. The rise of an ambitious, more nationalistic Filipino middle class, consisting of educated native Filipinos, Philippine-born Spaniards and creoles, Spanish mestizos and an economically entrenched Chinese mestizo community, signaled the end of complete domination by the Spanish. Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government, they clamored for independence. Jos Rizal, the most famous propagandist, was arrested and executed in 1896 for acts of subversion. Soon after, the Philippine Revolution broke out, pioneered by the KKK (Kataastaasan at Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) or Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society founded by Andres Bonifacio and later led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution nearly succeeded in ousting the Spanish by 1898.

The U.S. Connection

That same year Spain and the United States fought the Spanish-American War, after which Spain ceded the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States for US $20 million through the Treaty of Paris. The Filipinos had by then declared independence, and this led to the Philippine-American War that officially ended in 1901, though sporadic fighting continued until 1913. The islands were made a U.S. territory with little self-government until 1935, when their status was upgraded to that of a U.S. Commonwealth. It was during the Commonwealth years that the Philippines sent to the United States House of Representatives a non-voting Delegate, much the same as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands currently do. Independence for the Philippines was finally granted in 1946, after the Japanese had occupied the islands during World War II. The following period was marred by post-war problems; civil unrest during the unpopular dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, ousted in 1986; and later, the continuing problem of communist insurgency and Muslim separatism.

See also:

Politics and foreign relations

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 or she 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 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 founding and active member of the United Nations on October 24, 1945. It is also a founding and prominent mmember of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and an active participant of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and a member of the Group of 24. The Philippines is a major Non-NATO ally of the United States.

The Philippines is currently in a dispute with Taiwan, 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 the territory as a gift 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 from the Malaysian Government.

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Regions and provinces

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.

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.

See also:


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 and 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. 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 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 Mount Pinatubo, 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 Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities.

See also


The Philippine Peso is the official currency.
The Philippine Peso is the official currency.

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. 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.

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The people of the Philippines are called Filipinos (female inhabitants are also oftentimes referred to as Filipinas). Ethnic divisions are mostly done along linguistic lines with the twelve largest and most prominent of these groups being the Tagalogs(24%), Cebuanos (24%) and Ilokanos (11%), with the Hiligaynons (Ilonggo), Bikolanos, Waray-Warays, Kapampangans, Pangasinans, Kinaray-as, Maranaos, Maguindanao, and Tausugs.

  1. It should be noted that although the Tagalogs may appear more numerous, this is due to their historical predominance in national life by virtue of the national capital, Manila, being at the center of the Tagalog-speaking region. This is also the reason for why in 1937 the Filipino was based on Tagalog, despite Cebuano having twice as many speakers at the time. Recent censuses account for only small difference between Cebuano and Tagalog-speakers, so with the margin of error it could be argued that either Cebuano or Tagalog possess greater numbers of native-speakers. Ethnologue reports Cebuano as having 20 million native-speakers and Tagalog as having 14.5 million (1995 est.). The 2000 census is highly skewed in counting native-speakers of Cebuano. People who would otherwise be classified as Cebuano-speaker, have been categorized into Bisaya/Binisaya, Boholano, Butuanon, Surigaonon, Davaoeo and other ethnic groups, when their mother tongue is in fact Cebuano. Bisaya/Binisaya is commonly used by many Cebuano-speakers to refer to themselves, and Boholano is a dialect of Cebuano. Meanwhile, of those called Butuanon, Surigaonon, and Davaoeo (a significant numbers of people in Butuan City in the province of Agusan del Norte, and also in the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the Davao Region) are counted in those differently named groups despite most also being speakers of Cebuano.

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Main article: Languages of the Philippines

More than 170 languages are spoken in the Philippines and almost all of them belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. The official languages are Filipino (largely based on Tagalog) and English.

Other native languages with great significance, include: Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray-Waray, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Kapampagan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguinadanao, Tausug, and Chabacano.

Foreign languages spoken include Spanish among the Spanish and Spanish- Filipino communities, Chinese (Min Nan (Hokkien), Cantonese, and Mandarin) among members of the Chinese and Chinese-Filipino communities, and Malay, Arabic, Hindi among some members of the Muslim and Hindu population.

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The culture of the Philippines is reflected in their rich history. It is a rich blend of eastern and western traditions, from native Austronesian cultures to Chinese, and includes Muslim, Hinduism, Spanish, Mexican and American influences.

The people are generally friendly and relaxed and wear clothes similar to those of western society. While the country has not abandoned its eastern traditions, the past 484 years have been directed to western orientated traditons and it has strongly influenced the Filipino culture. Roman Catholicism and family ties play a very important role for the Filipinos.

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The arrival of the Spanish in 1565 brought Spanish culture and language. The colonizers and soon imposed Roman Catholic religion on the native Austronesian population. Augustinian and Franciscan missionaries, accompanied by Spanish soldiers soon spread Christianity from island to island. Their mission was made easier by the forced relocation of indigenous peoples during this time, as the uprooted natives turned to the foreign, structured religion as the new center of their lives. The priests and friars preached in local languages and employed indigenous peoples as translators, creating a bilingual class known as ladinos. The natives, called 'indios,' generally were not taught Spanish, but the bilinguale individuals, notably poet-translator Gaspar Aquino de Belen, produced devotional poetry written in the Roman script in the Tagalog language. Pasyon is a narrative of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ begun by Gaspar Aquino de Belen, which has circulated in many versions. Later, the Spanish ballads of chivalry, the corrido, provided a model for secular literature. Verse narratives, or komedya, were performed in the regional languages for the illiterate majority. They were also written in the Roman alphabet in the principal languages and widely circulated.

In addition, the classical literature (Jos Rizal, Pedro Paterno) and historical documents (national anthem, Constitucin Poltica de Malolos), were written in Spanish, which is no longer an official language. The Philippine writers, including Claro M. Recto continued writing in Spanish until 1946.

The Philippines has many national heroes. Considered the first to repel western aggression was Lapu-Lapu of Mactan Island, who killed Ferdinand Magellan. Dr. Jos Rizal (born June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna), "Pride of the Malay Race" and Philippine National Hero, mastered 22 languages including Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Malay, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native languages; he was an architect, artist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, sculptor and sociologist. The first Asian Secretary-General for the United Nations General Assembly was a Filipino - Carlos Pena Romulo. One of boxing greats, Flash Elorde was also a Filipino. In more recent times, the Philippines has produced major sports heroes, such as five-time bowling World Champion Paeng Nepumoceno, Manny Pacquiao of boxing fame, and multi-champion billiards player Efren "Bata" Reyes.


Cultural and historic landmarks of the Philippines include Intramuros (the old walled city in Manila, which was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt after the war), Fort Santiago, Fort San Pedro, Magellan's Cross (the Baroque Churches in the Philippines), town of Las Pias (houses the largest church bamboo organ) and the historic towns of Vigan, Cavite, Colon and Baleria . Other World Heritage Sites are the Banaue Rice Terraces, Tubbataha Reef, and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Boracay Island, Chocolate Hills, El Nido, Hundred Islands National Park, , Mayon Volcano, Maria Christina Falls, Mount Apo, Puerto Galera, , Pagsanjan Falls, San Juanico Bridge, Taal Volcano and Huluga Caves are some of the other sites that are frequented by tourists. Bataan and Corregidor also have historic significance, being the last bastion of the U.S. troops in Asia. Bataan is particularly known for the infamous Death March.

See also:

See also


The Philippines is a member of the following associations:

See also:

External links

Official websites

News websites

Other websites

Countries in Southeast Asia

Brunei | Cambodia | East Timor | Indonesia | Laos | Malaysia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam


ast:Filipines ca:Filipines da:Filippinerne de:Philippinen et:Filipiinid es:Filipinas eo:Filipinoj fr:Philippines ko:필리핀 id:Filipina it:Filippine he:הפיליפינים la:Philippinae lv:Filipīnas lt:Filipinai ms:Filipina nl:Filipijnen nds:Philippinen ja:フィリピン nb:Filippinene pl:Filipiny pt:Filipinas ru:Филиппины simple:Philippines sk:Filipny sl:Filipini fi:Filippiinit sv:Filippinerna tl:Pilipinas th:ประเทศฟิลิปปินส์ tr:Filipinler uk:Філіпіни zh:菲律宾


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