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Philippines: Southeast Asia's Pearl

Dubbed as “Pearl of the Orient,” the Philippines boasts of world-famous white sand beaches, breathtaking diving spots, and a whole lot of places yet to be discovered. Located in South East Asia, this country consists of 7,107 islands, about 2,000 of which are uninhabited.

North of the Philippines is the Luzon strait which separates the country from Taiwan and mainland China. South China Sea is located in the west, Philippine Sea in the east, while Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea can be found in the Southern part of the country.

With a total land area—including inland bodies of water—of approximately 300,000 sq km (116,000 sq miles), its 36,289 kilometers (22,549 miles) of coastline makes it the country with the fifth longest coastline in the world

Geographical Features

The Philippines divided into three main islands: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Provinces are then classified into different regions—Luzon has eight, Visayas has three, and Mindanao has six. These are:

  • Region I (Ilocos Region) - Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan
  • CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region ) – Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province
  • Region II (Cagayan Valley Region) – Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Neuva Viscaya, Quirino
  • Region III (Central Luzon Region ) – Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales
  • NCR (National Capital Region) – Caloocan City, Las Piρas City, Makati City, Malabon City, Mandaluyong City, Manila City, Marikina City, Munitnlupa City, Navotas City, Paraρaque City, Pasay City, Pasig City, Quezon City, San Juan City, Taguig City, Valenzuela City, Pateros
  • Region IV-A (CALABARZON) – Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon
  • Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) – Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan
  • Region V (Bicol Region) – Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon
  • Region VI (Western Visayas Region) – Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo
  • Region VII (Central Visayas Region) – Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor
  • Region VIII (Eastern Visayas Region) – Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Samar
  • Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula Region) – Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay
  • Region X (Northern Mindanao Region) – Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental
  • Region XI (Davao Region) – Compostella Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental
  • Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN Region) – South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City
  • Region XIII (Caraga Region) – Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur
  • Region XIV (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) – Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi

Being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences a number of seismic and volcanic activities which make it one of the richest countries in terms of biodiversity. Aside from thousands of islands, this country is also made up of mountains and ranges.

Mt. Apo in Davao City is the highest mountain in the country, located 2,954 meters above sea level. Mt. Mayon, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world with its symmetrical cone shape. It is also the most active volcano in the Philippines, having erupted 47 times as recorded (since 1616).

In Luzon lies the longest river, the Cagayan River or Rio Grande de Cagayan, which measures 354 km. The largest lake is also in Luzon, the Laguna de Bay which extends to Manila Bay and Pasig River. Its surface area is 949 sq. km and is only about two-meter deep.

Climate

Being a tropical country, Philippine climate is usually hot and humid. Generally, it is categorized in three seasons: the wet or rainy season from June to October, dry and cool season from November to February, and hot or dry season from March to May.

Average yearly temperature is 26.6°C. There are also places where cool weather can be enjoyed, most popular of which is Baguio in Benguet, also known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. During the rainy season, an average of eight to nine typhoons cross the country.

Modes of Transportation

There's a lot of transportation options to choose from to go to one place to another. Airplanes are the most convenient and fastest way to travel. The premier airport is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Cities like Cebu and Davao also have international airports and handle regular flights to various provincial capitals.

There are also ferries for those who want to enjoy a sea ride and a scenic view of the islands. Batangas pier is the premier seaport of the CALABARZON region, catering to domestic sea travel. However, the Manila port is still ahead of Batangas pier in terms of the shipping economy. Meanwhile, Subic Bay dominates the international shipping industry.

Buses and trains in Metro Manila are used for short-distance travel. There are different bus terminals in Manila such as the Lawton Bus Terminal near the Manila City hall. The Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) travel through the main places in Metro Manila. Philippine National Railways (PNR) travels from Manila to Binan and to Legaspi.

The Philippines' famous jeepneys are accesible almost everywhere around the country. But for those who want a special service from one point to another, there are taxis around Metro Manila, and tricycles (three-wheeled motor vehicle) in most remote provinces.

Language and Religion

Philippines is said to be the third largest English-speaking country in the world. English is the medium of instruction used in higher education. This and the Filipino language are the two official languages, with the latter being derived from a Tagalog dialect. Filipino, being the national language, is also used for communication among ethnic groups.

There are eight major dialects used by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects around the country.

In terms of Religion, about 90% of the Filipinos are Christians, 80% of which are Roman Catholics and 10% belong to other Christian churches. Muslims comprise a 5% to 10% of the population, most of them living in the Mindanao provinces.

Ethnic religious traditions are still being practiced by some of the aboriginal groups, derived from early religious practices that date back to pre-colonial times. Chinese religions like Bhuddaism, Taoism, and Judaism were also introduced to the early Filipinos and are practiced by some today.

Sources:
www.dot.gov.ph
http://www.doe.gov.ph/ER/archives/pcr/countryfacts.html
http://www.nscb.gov.ph/view/geography.asp

Philippine Provinces

Abra
Agusan del Norte
Agusan del Sur
Aklan
Albay
Antique
Apayao
Aurora
Basilan
Bataan
Batanes
Batangas
Benguet
Biliran
Bohol
Bukidnon
Bulacan
Cagayan
Camarines Norte
Camarines Sur
Camiguin
Capiz
Catanduanes

Cavite
Cebu
Compostela Valley
Cotabato
Davao del Norte
Davao del Sur
Davao Oriental
Eatern Samar
Guimaras
Ifugao
Ilocos Norte
Ilocos Sur
Iloilo
Isabela
Kalinga

Laguna
La Union
Lanao del Norte
Lanao del Sur
Leyte
Maguindanao
Marinduque
Masbate
Misamis Occidental
Misamis Oriental
Moutain Province
Negros Occidental
Negros Oriental
Northen Samar
Nueva Ecija
Nueva Vizcaja
Occidental Mindoro
Oriental Mindoro
Palawan
Pampanga
Pangasinan
Quezon
Quirino
Rizal
Romblon
Samar
Sarangani
Siquijor
Sorsogon
South Cotabato
Southern Leyte
Sultan Kudarat
Sulu
Surigao del Norte
Surigao del Sur
Tarlac
Tawi-Tawi
Zambales
Zamboanga Del Norte
Zamboanga Del Sur
Zamboanga Sibugay


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