The Philippines were named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos during his expedition in 1542 named the islands of Leyte and SamarFelipinas after the then Prince of Asturias. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. Before that became commonplace, other names such as Islas del Poniente (Islands of the West) and Magellan's name for the islands San Lázaro were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands.
The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of the country's history. During the Philippine Revolution, the Malolos Congress proclaimed the establishment of the República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish–American War (1898) and the Philippine–American War (1899–1902) until the Commonwealth period (1935–46), American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the Spanish name. From the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the name Philippines began to appear and it has since become the country's common name. Since the end of World War II, the official name of the country has been the Republic of the Philippines.
The metatarsal of the Callao Man, reliably dated by uranium-series dating to 67,000 years ago replaced the Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon-dated to around 24,000 years ago, as the oldest human remains found in the archipelago. Negritos were also among the archipelago's earliest inhabitants, but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated. There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos. The most widely accepted based on linguistic and archeological evidence, is the "Out-of-Taiwan" model, which hypothesizes that Austronesians from Taiwan began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BCE, displacing earlier arrivals. By 1000 BCE the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and maritime harbor principalities.
During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War, British forcesoccupied Manila from 1762 to 1764. Spanish rule was eventually restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines (criollos) and those of mixed ancestry (mestizos) became wealthy, and an influx of Latin American settlers opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula (peninsulares). The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.
In 1965, Macapagal lost to Ferdinand Marcos, who was elected president. Early in his presidency he initiated numerous public projects but was accused of massive corruption, such as the embezzlement of billions of dollars in public funds. Amidst great social turmoil and nearing the end of his term, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. This period of his rule was characterized by political repression, censorship, and human rights violations. His wife Imelda continued to live a lavish lifestyle as the majority of Filipinos remained in poverty. On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr., was assassinated at Manila International Airport. Marcos eventually called for snap presidential elections in 1986 against Aquino's widow, Corazon. Marcos was proclaimed the winner, but the results were widely regarded as fraudulent, leading to the People Power Revolution. Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and Aquino was recognized as president.
The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. A mutual defense treaty between the two countries was signed in 1951. The Philippines supported American policies during the Cold War and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was a member of the now dissolved SEATO, a group that was intended to serve a role similar to NATO and that included Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. After the start of the War on Terror, the Philippines was part of the coalition that gave support to the United States in Iraq.
In addition to membership in the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), an organization designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among states in the Southeast Asian region. It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc.
The Philippines values its relations with the United States. It supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror and is a major non-NATO ally. Despite this history of goodwill, controversies related to the presence of the now former U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark and the current Visiting Forces Agreement have flared up from time to time. Japan, the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country, is thought of as a friend. Although historical tensions still exist on issues such as the plight of comfort women, much of the animosity inspired by memories of World War II have faded.
Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain. Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there.
With communism no longer the threat it once was, once hostile relations in the 1950s between the Philippines and China have improved greatly. Issues involving Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, and concerns of expanding Chinese influence, however, still encourage a degree of caution. Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.
The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 81 provinces, 144 cities, 1,491 municipalities, and 42,028 barangays. In addition, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the definition of the territorial sea around the Philippine archipelago does not affect the claim over Sabah.
A clickable map of the Philippines exhibiting its 17 regions and 80 provinces.
The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area, including inland bodies of water, of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi). Its 36,289 kilometers (22,549 mi) of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world. It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E. longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude and is bordered by the Philippine Sea to the east, the South China Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south. The island of Borneo is located a few hundred kilometers southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south-southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands.
Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world. It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. Despite this, poor management, high population density, and environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped.Geothermal energy, however, is another product of volcanic activity that the country has harnessed more successfully. The Philippines is the world's second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18% of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power.
The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. It is one of the ten most biologically megadiverse countries and is at or near the top in terms of biodiversity per unit area. Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise.
Philippine maritime waters encompass as much as 2,200,000 square kilometers (849,425 sq mi) producing unique and diverse marine life and are an important part of the Coral Triangle. The total number of corals and marine fish species was estimated at 500 and 2,400 respectively. However, new records and species discoveries continuously increase these numbers underlining the uniqueness of the marine resources in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.
Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the country's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999. Many species are endangered and scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the 21st century. According to Conservation International, "the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation."
The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid. There are three seasons: tag-init or tag-araw, the hot dry season or summer from March to May; tag-ulan, the rainy season from June to November; and tag-lamig, the cool dry season from December to February. The southwest monsoon (from May to October) is known as the Habagat, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April), the Amihan. Temperatures usually range from 21 °C (70 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May.
The average yearly temperature is around 26.6 °C (79.9 °F). In considering temperature, location in terms of latitude and longitude is not a significant factor. Whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country, temperatures at sea level tend to be in the same range. Altitude usually has more of an impact. The average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) above sea level is 18.3 °C (64.9 °F), making it a popular destination during hot summers.
Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October, with around nineteen typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year and eight or nine making landfall. Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (200 in) in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters (39 in) in some of the sheltered valleys. The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 1911 cyclone, which dropped over 1,168 millimeters (46.0 in) of rainfall within a 24-hour period in Baguio.Bagyo is the local term for a tropical cyclone in the Philippines.
A newly industrialized country, the Philippine economy has been transitioning from one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing. Of the country's total labor force of around 40.813 Million, the agricultural sector employs close to 32% but contributes to only about 14% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 14% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile the 47% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56% of GDP.
The unemployment rate as of January 2013 stands at around 6.9% and the inflation rate as of May 13 was at 3.2%. Gross international reserves as of October 2013 are $83.201 billion. In 2004, public debt as a percentage of GDP was estimated to be 74.2% but in 2008 it fell to 56.9%. and in 2012, 40.2%. The country is a net importer but it is also a creditor nation.
After World War II, the country was for a time regarded as the second wealthiest in East Asia, next only to Japan. However, by the 1960s its economic performance started being overtaken. The economy stagnated under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos as the regime spawned economic mismanagement and political volatility. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover. The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market. But the extent it was affected initially was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth. There have been signs of progress since. In 2004, the economy experienced 6.4% GDP growth and 7.1% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades. Average annual GDP growth per capita for the period 1966–2007 still stands at 1.45% in comparison to an average of 5.96% for the East Asia and the Pacific region as a whole and the daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than $2.
Other incongruities and challenges exist. The economy is heavily reliant on remittances which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Regional development is uneven with Luzon – Metro Manila in particular – gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country.
The transportation infrastructure in the country is relatively underdeveloped. Partly this is due to the mountainous terrain and the scattered geography of the islands, but it is also the result of the government's persistent underinvestment in infrastructure. In 2003, only 3.6% of GDP went to infrastructure development which was significantly lower than that of some of its neighbors. Consequently, while there are 203,025 kilometers (126,154 mi) of roads in the country, only around 20% of the total is paved. The current administration under President Benigno Aquino III has been pushing to improve the country's infrastructure and transportation systems through various projects.
Nevertheless there are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns. In 2007, there were about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles with registration increasing at an average annual rate of 4.55%. Train services are provided by three main railway networks that serve different areas of Metro Manila and parts of Luzon: the Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT-1 and MRT-2), the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT-3), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
As an archipelago, inter-island travel via watercraft is often necessary. The busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga. Passenger ships and other sea vessels such as those operated by 2GO Travel and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns. In 2003, the 919-kilometer (571 mi) Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities was established. Some rivers that pass through metropolitan areas, such as the Pasig River and Marikina River, have air-conditioned commuter ferries. The Pasig River Ferry Service has numerous stops in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Marikina.
The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users.Text messaging is a popular form of communication, and in 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day. Over five million mobile phone users also use their phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks. The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company commonly known as PLDT is the leading telecommunications provider. It is also the largest company in the country. There are approximately 383 AM and 659 FM radio stations and 297 television and 873 cable television stations. Estimates for internet penetration in the Philippines vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 24 million people.Social networking and watching videos are among the most frequent internet activities.
The population of the Philippines increased from 1990 to 2008 by approximately 28 million, a 45% growth in that time frame. The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1877 and recorded a population of 5,567,685. As of 2013, the Philippines has become the world's 12th most populous nation, with a population of over 99 million. It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. The population growth rate between 1995 to 2000 of 3.21% decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005 to 2010 period, but remains a contentious issue. The population's median age is 22.7 years with 60.9% aged from 15 to 64 years old. Life expectancy at birth is 71.94 years, 75.03 years for females and 68.99 years for males. There are about 12 million Filipinos outside the Philippines. Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry has grown substantially. In 2007 there were an estimated 3.1 million. 12 million Filipinos live overseas.
Filipinos generally belong to several Asian ethnic groups classified linguistically as part of the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian speaking people. It is believed that thousands of years ago Austronesian-speaking Taiwanese aborigines migrated to the Philippines from Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing, eventually displacing the earlier Negrito groups of the islands. The two most important non-indigenous minorities include the Chinese and the Spaniards. Chinese Filipinos, mostly descended from immigrants from Fujian, China after 1898, number 2 million, although there is an estimated 18 million Filipinos who have partial Chinese ancestry, stemming from precolonial Chinese migrants. Intermarriage between the groups is evident in the major cities and urban areas. Descendants of such mixed couples are known as mestizos.
Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 no longer have any known speakers. Native languages are part of the Borneo–Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a standardized version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. The constitution mandates that Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.
The National Statistics Office reports a simple literacy rate of 93.4% and a functional literacy rate of 84.1% for 2003. Literacy is about equal for males and females. Spending for education is around 2.5% of GDP. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) lists 2,180 higher education institutions, 607 of which are public and 1,573 private. Classes start in June and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programs. Republic Act No. 9155 gives the framework of basic education in the Philippines and provides for compulsory elementary education and free high school education.
Several government agencies are involved with education. The Department of Education covers elementary, secondary, and nonformal education; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) administers the post-secondary middle-level education training and development; and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises the college and graduate academic programs and degrees as well as regulates standards in higher education. In 2004, madaris were mainstreamed in 16 regions nationwide mainly in Muslim areas in Mindanao under the auspices and program of the Department of Education. Public universities are all non-sectarian entities, and are further classified as State University and College (SUC) or Local College and University (LCU). The University of the Philippines is the national university of the Philippines.
Most of the national burden of health care is taken up by private health providers. In 2006, total expenditures on health represented 3.8% of GDP. 67.1% of that came from private expenditures while 32.9% was from government. External resources accounted for 2.9% of the total. Health expenditures represented about 6.1% of total government spending. Per capita total expenditure at average exchange rate was $52. The proposed national health budget for 2010 is ₱28 billion (about $597 million) or ₱310 ($7) per person.
There are an estimated 90,370 physicians or 1 per every 833 people, 480,910 nurses, 43,220 dentists, and 1 hospital bed per every 769 people. Retention of skilled practitioners is a problem. 70% of nursing graduates go overseas to work. The country is the biggest supplier of nurses. In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40% were government-run and 60% private. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25% of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Other estimates have as many as 12,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2005.
Percussion instruments that make up the Philippine kulintang ensemble, an example of pre-Hispanic musical tradition
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well-known. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.
One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos. However, a Spanish name and surname does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree, the Clavería edict, for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the population. The names of many streets, towns, and provinces are also in Spanish. Spanish architecture has left an imprint in the Philippines in the way many towns were designed around a central square or plaza mayor, but many of the buildings bearing its influence were demolished during World War II. Some examples remain, mainly among the country's churches, government buildings, and universities. Four Philippine baroque churches are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the San Agustín Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Santa María) Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic-style houses and buildings preserved there.
The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos' love of fast food and Western film and music. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market, but local fast food chains like Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee, the leading fast food chain in the country, have emerged and compete successfully against their foreign rivals.
The halo-halo is a dessert made of ice, milk, various fruits, and ice cream.
Philippine cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes. Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate, such as the paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechón, adobo, sinigang, kare-kare, tapa, crispy pata, pancit, lumpia, and halo-halo. Some common local ingredients used in cooking are calamondins, coconuts, saba (a kind of short wide plantain), mangoes, milkfish, and fish sauce. Filipino taste buds tend to favor robust flavors but the cuisine is not as spicy as those of its neighbors.
Unlike many of their Asian counterparts, Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks; they use Western cutlery. However, possibly due to rice being the primary staple food and the popularity of a large number of stews and main dishes with broth in Philippine cuisine, the main pairing of utensils seen at the Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork. The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in less urbanized areas.
Philippine mythology has been handed down primarily through the traditional oral folk literature of the Filipino people. While each unique ethnic group has its own stories and myths to tell, Hindu and Spanish influences can nonetheless be detected in many cases. Philippine mythology mostly consists of creation stories or stories about supernatural creatures, such as the aswang, the manananggal, the diwata/engkanto, and nature. Some popular figures from Philippine mythologies are Maria Makiling, Lam-Ang, and the Sarimanok.
Philippine literature comprises works usually written in Filipino, Spanish, or English. Some of the most known were created in the 19th century. Francisco Balagtas the poet and playwright who wrote Florante at Laura is recognized as a preeminent writer in the Filipino language. José Rizal wrote the novels Noli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibustering, also known as The Reign of Greed) and is considered a national hero. His depiction of the injustices of Spanish rule, and his death by firing squad, inspired other Philippine revolutionaries to seek independence.
Philippine media uses mainly Filipino and English. Other Philippine languages, including various Visayan languages are also used, especially in radio due to its ability to reach remote rural locations that might otherwise not be serviced by other kinds of media. The dominant television networks ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5 also have extensive radio presence.