Republic of the Philippines

The island kingdom of the Philippines in Southeast Asia comprises the northern part of the Malay Archipelago and consists of 7100 islands, of which about 860 are inhabited. Due to strong plate tectonic processes in the earth’s interior, the Philippines have many volcanoes and earthquakes are frequent. The islands are mostly mountainous.

Due to the tropical monsoon climate with high humidity, the Philippines has an extraordinarily species-rich vegetation. Rainforests, monsoon forests, and cloud forests cover almost 50% of the country.

Short for PH on ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, the Philippines is a country of great social tension. A rapidly growing population, a lack of jobs and extremely unequal incomes lead to major problems. Urgent land reforms still fail due to objections from the large landowners, and birth control measures due to the resistance of the Catholic Church.

Republic of the Philippines

Economic growth is relatively low. During the reign of President MARCOS until 1986, the country experienced serious internal political unrest. A democratization policy has been pursued since MARCOS escaped.

To the west, the South China Sea separates the Philippines from the east coast of China and Cambodia. The Indonesian islands of Borneo and Celebes are the southern neighboring countries, separated by Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea. The north and east sides of the Philippines are washed by the Pacific Ocean. The northern neighbor is the island of Taiwan (Fig. 1). The capital is Manila.

Important data about the country

Surface: 300,000 km²
Residents: 81.4 million
Population density: 271 residents / km²
Growth of population: 1.8% / year
Life expectancy: 70 years
State capital: Manila
Form of government: Presidential Republic
Languages: Filipino, Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Panay- Hiligaynon, Bicol, Spanish, Chinese, English
Religions: Catholics 84.1%, followers of the Independent Philippine Church 6.2%, Muslims 5%, Protestants 3.9%
Climate: Monsoonal, tropical climate
Land use: Arable land 37.7%, forest 40.4%, pasture land 3.8%
Economic sectors (share of employees): Agriculture 35.4%, industry 16%, services 48.6%
Export goods: electronic products, machine and transport equipment, clothing, agricultural products, copra, wood
Gross domestic product: $ 80,574 million (2003)
Gross National Product: US $ 1,080 / residents (2003)

Natural space

The Philippine archipelago consists of over 7100 islands, only about 860 of them are inhabited. The island kingdom is about the size of Italy. The numerous islands can be divided into three groups. In the north are the largest island Luzon with the capital Manila, the smaller island Mindoro and Masbate. The southern islands are Mindanao and the Lulu Islands, the middle part of the empire is formed by the island world of the Visayas with the six main islands Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohul, Samar and Leyte. The archipelago of Palawan, located far to the west, forms its own unit.

The two largest islands, Luzon and Mindanao occupy two thirds of the total land area. All the islands of the Philippines are exposed parts of formerly contiguous submarine mountain ranges, which were severely disintegrated by later incursions. Strong tectonic activity, the clash of the Eurasian and Filipino plates under the archipelago, has created over 100 volcanoes. Pinatubo is one of the more than a dozen active volcanoes the most famous. After more than 600 years of calm, it broke out again in 1991 and many people had to leave their homes. Earthquakes are also common in the Philippines. The Philippinengraben in the east of the archipelago marks the limit of the plate tectonic movement. It is 10,540 m deep and is the second deepest sea trench after the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. Most of the Philippine islands are mountainous. The mountain ranges run from north to south. The highest mountains are the Apo volcano on Mindano at 2954 m and the Pulong (2929 m) on Luzon. Around a third of the country’s area consists of lowlands, valleys and basin landscapes. The largest plains are on Luzon. Extensive coastal lowlands can also be found on Mindano in the east and south-west.



Over 130 rivers have their source in the mountains of the islands. They drain the islands into the South China Sea in the west, the Pacific in the east and the Celebes Sea in the south, and Sulu Island in the southwest. Due to the steep gradient, the water-rich rivers only deposit large amounts of sediments in the estuary. The Cagayan in northern Luzon is the longest river at 354 km. The mouths of the rivers are preferred settlement and arable land.


The Philippines have a tropical climate embossed. The location of the islands in the low tropical latitudes contributes to the low regional, seasonal and also daily temperature fluctuations. The mean monthly temperatures are between 25 °C in December and January and 29 °C in the hottest month of May. The daily temperature differences are on average 6 °C (Fig. 2). Since no place in the Philippines is more than 100 km from a coast, the climate is maritime everywhere. The annual rainfall is around 2000 to 3000 mm, but varies considerably from region to region. In the areas of the Pacific there is about 3500 mm of rain per year, there is no dry season. In the west, however, the annual rainfall is 1500 to 2000 mm. Most of the rain falls between June and October when the southwest monsoon blows, between December and April, the northeast monsoon brings relatively dry air. Between June and September, those coming from the east move across the central and northern islands Typhoons. The destructive force of these tropical cyclones affects agriculture, especially on the main island of Luzon. They reach wind speeds of up to 300 km / h and also bring extremely heavy rainfall to the east side of the island, which leads to catastrophic floods.


Hardly any other country in the world has such diverse vegetation as the Philippines. There are over 10,000 species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and ferns. The proportion of forests in the total area is
30–50%, even if the stock has been severely reduced through years of clearing, especially of precious woods. The overexploitation of the forests has caused enormous ecological damage. The rainforests in the east of the island kingdom have been almost completely cleared, replaced by species-poor secondary forests and grasslands. Monsoon forestscan only be found in the central and western areas of the islands, at higher altitudes they merge into cloud forests. Pine forests can be found in north and west Luzon and northwest Mindanao. The coastal areas are covered by mangroves.

Social problems in the country

The Philippines is a country of great social tension. The rapid population growth, together with unemployment and underemployment, is one of the serious structural problems. Family planning, the creation of jobs and the defusing of the social differences caused by the extremely unequal distribution of income are the primary development tasks of the country. A land reform with a redistribution of the land still fails due to the resistance of large landowners and multinational corporations.

Ethnic diversity

Most Filipinos are counted among the Malay peoples. The largest population group with around 40% are members of the Young Malay peoples, 10% of the residents are descendants of the Old Malay. The proportion of the population of Indonesian origin is 30%. The largest non-Malay minority are the Chinese. Every tenth resident is one of them. The Indians make up around 5% of the population. The descendants of immigrants from continental Asia, the Negritos, are now considered the country’s indigenous people. This minority comprises at most 15,000 people. They live in inaccessible mountain regions. About 5% of the population are Americans, Arabs and Europeans, especially Spaniards.

Linguistic diversity

The diversity of the peoples living in the Philippines is reflected in the multitude of languages ​​and dialects, approximately 980 of which are spoken in the country. The Tagalog language spoken in the central Luzon was reformed and declared the national language as Filipino in 1973. However, since it is only mastered by half of Filipinos, English and Spanish are the most important lingua franca.


The Philippines are still an agricultural country. About 30% of the islands are used for agriculture in order to guarantee the supply of the population. About half of the population is employed in agriculture. However, farmers have to lease their fields from large landowners. After the lease has been deducted, there are hardly any funds left for efficient cultivation of the fields. Agricultural reforms have so far failed due to resistance from large landowners. The most important agricultural product is rice, along with corn, potatoes, cassava and vegetables.

The farms of the large landowners, on the other hand, work export-oriented, as do the plantations of multinational corporations. Landless day laborers are employed here at the lowest wages. The export crops are sugar cane and coconut palms. The Philippines are the largest Copra producers in the world. The country is also the leading supplier on the world market for bananas, rubber, sugar, pineapples, coffee and Manila hemp. The overexploitation of tropical woods brought high export revenues for years, but caused great ecological damage and drastically reduced the forest population. In 1986 and 1989 the export of timber was strictly restricted. Inshore fishing is considerable. Fish is important as a food for Filipinos.


Since its independence in 1946, the state has been promoting the expansion of industry. Despite its still basic agricultural structure, the Philippines is slowly developing into an emerging country, i. H. a country in transition from an agricultural country to an industrial one. The Philippines are rich in deposits of nickel, iron and chrome ore, coal, gold, silver, mercury, asbestos and gypsum. A reformed industrial policy and foreign investment have contributed to the growth of the manufacturing industry in recent years.

A free trade zone was created on the Bataan peninsula. The textile and clothing industry has increasingly developed into an important export branch alongside the food and beverage industry. Despite the positive trend, economic growth in the Philippines is relatively low compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. The as yet unsolved problems in the agricultural structure, a high level of foreign debt – one of the highest in the world – and the distrust of foreign investors in the political stability of the Philippines are the causes of the slow economic growth. The main trading partners are Japan and the USA with over 50% of exports. Tourism is an important source of foreign currency. The Philippines is one of the most popular countries for sex tourists. Child prostitution is widespread,


1521: MAGELLAN discovers the Philippine archipelago.

1543: Spanish expeditions, the islands are named after the later Spanish King PHILIP II.

End of the 16th century: Spanish colonization

Since 1648: The Philippines belong to Spain. Spanish missionaries convert the entire local population to Christianity.

1898: The Philippines ceded to the USA after the Spanish-American War

4 July 1946: The USA gives the Philippines independence. Establishment of military bases and economic control of the USA

Since 1965: President MARCOS pursues the Philippinization of the country.

Until 1986: Severe domestic political unrest – dictatorial MARCOS regime

Since 1986: democratization, creation of a presidential republic

1987–1992: American forces withdrew from their bases.