Philippines Basic Facts Name


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Mission Atlas Project
Basic Facts
The official name is the Republika ñg Pilipinas  (Republic of the Philippines) or simply Pilipinas (Philippines). The term Filipino(s) refers to the residents of the Philippines.
The estimated 2001 total population of 82,841,518 has an estimated growth rate of 2.03%. The age breakdown of the population is: 36.87% - 0/14 years; 59.45% - 15/64 years; 3.68% - 65+ years. The 2001 estimates for birth, death, and migration were 27.37 births/1000 population, 6.04 deaths/1000 population, -1.01 migrant(s)/1000 population. The estimated population density is 715 persons per square mile (279 persons per sq. km). The average family size is 5.4.

The Philippine Government has sought to restrict population growth over the years. In 1985, Popcom, the government agency given the task of limiting population growth in the Philippines, set a goal for reducing the growth to only one percent by the turn of the century. They recommended that women should wait until they are twenty-three to get married and that men should wait until they are twenty-five to get married. Furthermore, they suggested that the couples should have only two children with a three-year waiting period between the two.

Land Area

An archipelago located some 500 miles off the coast of Mainland Southeast Asia between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, the Philippines has a total land area of 115,874 square miles (300,000sq. km). While there are more than 7,100 islands, only about 1000 of them are populated and only about 2300 even have names, eleven of which make up 94 percent of the Philippine landmass. Ninety three percent of the islands have a landmass of one square mile or less. The largest islands are Luzon (40,420 sq mi), Mindanao (36,537 sq mi), and Samar (5,124 sq mi), yet the three main geographic regions are Luzon, Visayas
, and Mindanao. The Philippine government is currently involved in a dispute over the Spratly Islands with China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei.


The islands are of volcanic origin and are all prone to earthquakes. The country has a mountainous terrain with the Mount Apo located on Mindanao being the highest point at 9,690 ft. There are many dormant and active volcanoes. The mountains lead to interior valleys and plains, leaving narrow plains along the coast. The largest plains are the Central Luzon, the Cagayan Valley
and the Agusan Basin. The coastline of the Philippians winds 22,500 miles around the many islands, one of the longest national coastlines in the world.

The climate is a hot and humid tropical marine. From March to May, the hottest months, it may get as hot as 100 °F (38 °C). However, during the rainy season from June to February, the temperature cools off, yet rarely below 70 °F (21 °C). The temperature varies not only from season to season, but also in relation to the terrain. The plains and valleys have the hotter and more humid climate that averages about 80°F (26. 7°C), while the cooler mountainous regions average around 64°F (17.8°C).

The Philippines receive an average yearly rainfall of about 100 inches (250 centimeters). Some areas receiving almost double that (up to 180 inches), while the lowlands receive less because the mountains block the rain clouds from moving inland. There are two monsoon seasons, the northeast monsoon from November to April and the southwest monsoon from May to October, with the Philippines being hit by typhoons about five times annually. The Philippines were declared the most disaster-prone country in the world by a Brussels-based research center in 2000. This declaration was based mostly on the countries history of typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods.

GDP US$75.2 billion (2001 est.) with a GDP real growth rate of 3.9% and an inflation rate of 4.4%. The unemployment is at 10%, with a per capita income of $1000 per head. Around 45% of the population works in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and about 40% work in the service industries. Only about 15% work in the industries of manufacturing, construction and mining, yet they have led to serious pollution problems within the Philippines. The unemployment rate is at 10% and 41% of the population is below the poverty line.

The growth rate in the Philippines was at 5% in 1995. However, following the Asian financial crisis and a stretch of bad weather, the growth dropped to –0.05% in 1998. In 1999, after some economic reform, the growth regained to 3%. As reforms continue, the economy continues to recover.


The Philippine government is a republic. The government is divided up into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Within the executive branch, the president, which is elected by popular vote for one six-year term, is both the chief of state and the head of government. The vice president is elected separately. The president appoints the cabinet with the consent of the Commission of Appointments. It is noteworthy to add that the last elected president was declared by the Supreme Court unfit to rule the country after many government officials resigned. He was arraigned in July 2001 on the capital offense of economic plunder.

The legislature, which is also elected by popular vote, is divided between the 24-seat senate and the 204-seat house of representatives. The senate is elected to a maximum of two consecutive six-year terms, with one-half of the senate being elected three years apart. Members of the house of representatives may be elected to a maximum of three consecutive three year terms. The president may also appoint members of the house of representatives, as long as, according to the constitution, the number does not exceed 250.

The Supreme Court heads the judicial branch. The justices of the Supreme Court are appointed on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council. Members serve until their 70 years of age.

The Philippines are administratively divided up into 73 provinces and 61 chartered cities. Manila is the Philippine capital. The country is currently governed by a constitution that was accepted on the second of February in 1987. Their legal system based upon Spanish and Anglo-American law. The country celebrates two national holidays of independence: June 12, for the day they gained their independence from Spain in 1898, and July 4, for the day they gained their independence from the United States in 1946.

The Philippines are considered a friendly, laid back, and safe place to be. Designated the Pearl of the Orient, the residents like the country to be known as the place where “Asia wears a smile.” The Philippines is a very diverse country, with a mixture of many different peoples, languages and religious beliefs. This people group as a whole is considered to be Malay, yet with a mixture of American, Arab, Chinese and Spanish blood. As a result, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the smaller people groups’ appearance and culture because of the eastern and western blending.

Some of the traits noticeable in their lifestyle can be traced to their unique culture. It is believed that their Chinese heritage has resulted in the close family relationships. Their Spaniard heritage has resulted in piousness. And their native heritage is what has led to their spirit of kinship, referred to as bayanihan, and hospitality.

The Muslim people groups are about the only ones that seen to be affected by the mixture of Spanish and American influences. The diversity can be a major source of struggle, especially in recent history because of Muslim terrorists. Along with the other negative impacts on the country, drug exportation is a serious problem. Not only is marijuana and hashish produced in the country, but also heroin and crystal methamphetamines are regularly passed through the borders.

The two official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and English. More than half of the people speak Filipino, which is the national language and is a based on the Tagalog dialect spoken by the people in the capital city of Manila. Tagalog was recognized as the national language in 1936, yet in 1973, the national language was changed to Filipino. The Ethnologue lists 171 languages for the country with three being extinct. Other sources claim that the country has around seventy native dialects. The reason for the deference is possibly that the Ethnologue divides several of the larger dialects into a variety of smaller, more regional dialects. The eight major dialects are the Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocan, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Almost three fourths of Filipinos speak English, the language of both the commerce and politics, making it about the only English-proficient Asian country today. Some small minorities speak either Spanish or Chinese.

The latest statistics show that about 47% of the population lives in an urban setting, while the majority lives outside of the cities. The trend, however, has shown a constant flow of people moving into the urban regions, especially Manila. The 2000 est. population of Metro Manila, which includes Quezon City, Caloocan and Pasay, was 13, 450,000. Other large cities include Cebu, Davao, and Zamboanga. Because of the high percentage of population growth in the Philippines the amount of housing, schools and health facilities must be doubled every twenty-nine years in order to maintain a constant level.
In the Philippines about 95% of the people over the age of 15 can read and write. Children are required by law to attend six years of school between the ages of 7 and 12 years old. While the students are taught in their own local dialect the first two years of school, classes are conducted in the rest of the time in English and Filipino, with English being the used in most private schools, high schools and universities. Higher education is important to the Filipinos, yet although 30% of the population attends college, there are not enough jobs within their country for all of the graduates.


Before Catholicism, the native Filipinos practiced many forms of polytheism. They offered sacrifices and incantations to spirits.

As a generalization, Filipinos are very religious. It is a predominately Catholic country with over 80% of the population identifying as such. It is the only Catholic country in Asia. There are also other Christian denominations and an extremely vocal Muslim community in the southern Philippines. A variety of cult-like religious groups are also popular.

Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 3% Buddhist, Daoist (or Taoist), or other religions

The Philippine Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. About 95 per cent of the people are Christians, more than in any other Asian country. About 85 per cent of the population is Roman Catholic. The nation also has many Protestants, Muslims, and members of the Philippine Independent Church and the Philippine Church of Christ.

The Filipinos live mostly in the lowlands and constitute one of the largest Christian groups in Asia

Roman Catholicism is professed by over 80% of the population; 5% are Aglipayans, members of the Philippine Independent Church, a nationalistic offshoot of Catholicism (see Aglipay, Gregorio); 5% are Muslims (concentrated on Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago; see Moros); and 4% are Protestants

Websites for further information:

Historical Aspects:

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