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About the Philippines

Information about the Philippines, its people, its landscape and culture.

About the Philippines: The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia composed of more that 7,100 islands. Many of the volcanic islands that constitute the archipelago are isolated.

The 11 largest islands namely Luzon, Masbate, Mindoro, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Samar, Negros, Panay, and Mindanao, account for more than 94% of the total land area.

The topography is generally hilly, rising to a high point of about 3 kilometers at Mount Apo, a volcano in the island of Mindanao. Only the Luzon and Mindanao islands have broad lowland areas. There are various dormant and active volcanos, particularly Mount Pinatubo in Central Luzon, which made a big noise in 1991.

Much of the land is rugged, undermined, and unfit for human habitat, but fertile volcanic soils are found in Luzon, Mindanao, and parts of the Negros Island. The forests that once covered about 80% of the land are being rapidly exhausted and areas cleared and abandoned by farmers practicing “kaingin” (meaning slash-and-burn) farming are often covered with tall tropical grasses.

Wildlife includes the carabao (water buffalo), monkeys, reptiles, and tropical birds. There is abundant deposits of gold, lead, manganese, silver, nickel, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron ore and coal and an exceptional hydroelectric and geothermal power potential. Volcanic steam provides an increasing factor of the nation's power supply demands.

There are two distinct seasons, the Dry and the Wet. The dry season is somewhere between March to June while the wet season is from July to October. The intervening period is neither too wet nor too hot for comfort. Humidity is relatively high, about 80%. The climate is warm but healthy. It was said that it is one of the most beneficial tropical climates in the world.

The mean annual lowland temperature is about 27°C (80°F). Temperatures fluctuate more between day and night and high and low altitudes than between seasons.

The Filipino people is a mixture of races. Racially, most Filipinos are a mixture of Malaya and Mongoloid races, with some mixture of Chinese, Indian, Arab, Spanish, and American elements. The Spanish expression 'mestizo' is used to describe anyone of mixed blood.

The leading groups are the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangeños, Bicolanos of Luzon and the Cebuanos, Ilonggos, and the Waray of the Visayas. These groups, which constitute more than 90% of the populace, are predominantly Christians. The hill tribes practice tribal religions, and Islam is strongest in parts of Mindanao, Palawan, and Sulu.

Although the Filipino people speak a variety of languages and are spread across many islands, they have a rather high degree of cultural resemblance. The long struggle for self-government, the use of Filipino (which is the national language) and English languages in the schools, the influence of Christianity, and the rural-to-urban resettlement have contributed to unity. Least saturated are the Muslims of the south, the upland hill tribes, and recent Chinese immigrants.

Generally, Filipinos have these qualities: friendly, hospitable, devoted to family, respectful of authorities, devoted, sentimental and happy. They could easily adjust to new situations almost certainly because of the fact that they had been under several colonial rules in the past.


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