The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelagos, composed of 7,107 islands. It lies about 500 miles off the southeast coast of Asia. The overall land area is comparable to that of Arizona. It is bounded in the east by the Pacific Ocean, in the west by the South China Sea, in the north by the Bashi Channel, and in the south by the Sulu and Celebes Seas. It is the only Southeast Asian country to share no land borders with its neighbors. The biggest island group is Luzon, followed by Mindanao and Visayas. Manila, located in Luzon, is the capital city.  Metropolitan Manila, which is the largest urban center in the country, is home to an estimated 10,574,000 people.  The Philippines is the world’s 12th most populous country, with a population approaching 87 million people. The Philippines has one of the highest growth rates in the world, at 2.36 percent. This is almost twice the global rate of 1.30 percent. The presence of a well-established educational system accounts for the high literacy rate of 95%.  The Philippines has a tropical and monsoonal climate. There are two distinct seasons: the dry season from December to May and the wet season from June to November. About 20 to 30 typhoons lash the country during the wet season.


The majority of Philippine people are descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands in successive waves over many centuries and largely displaced the aboriginal inhabitants. The largest ethnic minority now is the mainland Asians (called Chinese), who have played an important role in commerce for many centuries since they first came to the islands to trade. Arabs and Indians also traveled and traded in the Philippines in the first and early second millennium. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Asian mainland, Spanish, American, Arab, or Indian ancestry. After the mainland Asians, Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest minorities in the country. More than 90% of the people are Christian as a result of the nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population and the mountain aboriginal groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao. About 87 languages and dialects are spoken, most belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family.  The Philippines is named after Philip II of Spain. (source: Accessed Nov.10, 2008).

Philippines(cathedral)Countless Philippine streets, towns, and provinces are named in Spanish. Spanish architecture also made a major imprint in the Philippines. This can especially be seen in the country’s churches, government buildings, and universities and many Hispanic-style houses and buildings are being preserved.  Kalesa is a horse-driven carriage introduced by the Spaniards and was a major mode of transportation during the colonial times;  it is still being used today. Filipino cuisine is also heavily influenced by Mexican and Spanish cuisine.  The downside of the impact of Spanish cultural influences in contemporary Filipino culture is that many Filipinos fail to recognize the pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures of their ancestors, creating  animosity between the Filipinos and their Southeast Asian neighbors and India.  Use of the English language in the Philippines is contemporaneous and is America’s visible legacy. There is also a wide influence of American pop cultural trends, such as the love of American fast-food, movies, and music. (wapedia. “Economy of the Philippines.” access Nov. 10,2008)


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