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Philippines: volcanoes, forests and tropical beaches

Philippines Islands (Republika ñg Pilipinas, Republic of the Philippines) are an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands located in South-East Asia, north of the equator, between the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea.

The state, a presidential republic, has the capital Manila and is divided into seventeen regions (National Capital Region (Manila, National Capital), Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bikol, Mimaro, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and two autonomous regions: Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao), Philippines also controls some islands of the Spratly archipelago.

A CATHOLIC COUNTRY

Besides the capital Manila, other major cities in the country are Quezon City, Davao, Cebu and Zamboanga. Together with East Timor is the only Asian country with an overwhelming Catholic majority.

The Philippines can be divided into three groups of islands to the north is the group of Luzon, in the center that of the Visayas and to the south that of Mindanao. Of the more than 7,000 islands that make up the archipelago, eleven are the largest islands that alone account for more than 90% of the total area the archipelago: Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Masbate. Most of the islands are of volcanic origin, with mountains covered by tropical forest, characterized by jagged coastline and irregular shape.

Due to the fragmented nature of the territory, the rivers are short and characterized by not very large basins, the longest river is the Cagayan (350 km), which is located on the island of Luzon. On the southeastern side of the archipelago is the Philippine Trench (-10,540 meters), one of the deepest oceanic abysses on the planet.

AN ARCHIPELAGO OF SEVEN THOUSAND ISLANDS

THE ISLAND OF LUZON

The largest island Luzon (104,687 sq km), is crossed in its northern region by the mountains of the Cordillera Central where is Mount Pulag (2,922 metres), the second summit of the country. Along the north-eastern coast of Luzon rise of the Sierra Madre mountains exceeding 2,000 metres. In the island there are numerous active volcanoes: north of Manila, in the western part of the Zambales Mountains lies Mount Pinatubo volcano (1,486 m), south of the capital is the volcanic lake in the crater of the volcano Taal (400 meters), while at the extreme south of the island rises the majestic volcanic cone of Mayon (2,462 metres). On Luzon is also the largest lake of the Philippines, the Laguna de Bay (911 sq km) which is located just south of Manila.

THE ISLANDS OF MINDORO AND PALAWAN

To the south of Luzon is the island of Mindoro (10,572 sq km), a mountainous island, whose highest peak is Mount Halcon (2,582 metres), south-west is the long and narrow island of Palawan (14,896 sq km), which stretches for nearly 500 km towards the Borneo, Palawan is a steep mountain range that exceeds 2,000 metres altitude.

THE VISAYAS ISLANDS

The Visayas archipelago comprises the islands Samar (13,080 sq km), Panay (12,011 sq km), Negros (12,706 sq km), Leyte (7,368 sq km), Cebu (4,468 sq km), Masbate (4,047 sq km) Bohol (3,269 sq km), and several thousand smaller islands, the highest mountain in the Visayas is the Kanlaon volcano (2,435 metres), on the island of Negros.

THE ISLAND OF MINDANAO

The second largest island, Mindanao (94,630 square kilometres) is located at the south of the country, it consists of several mountain ranges, and hosts the highest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo (2,954 meters), also a volcano. Situated at the south west of the country lies the islands of Sulu archipelago, a festoon of islands that extends for 400 km to the Borneo.

THE ECONOMY

The Philippines economy is based primarily on agriculture between the main crops are rice, corn, bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, copra (one of the world’s largest producers), tobacco, coffee, citrus fruits and abacá (Manila hemp). Important reserves of timber including the prized mahogany of the Philippines, bamboo, rattan and rubber. Considerable importance is covered by the Fisheries (tuna, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, mackerel, anchovies, crabs, sponges). Poor importance has farming (pigs, buffaloes, cattle).

Important subsoil resources are extracted gold, iron, coal, chromium, manganese, copper, silver, lead, mercury, nickel, uranium, while little abundant is oil. The industrial activity is directed mainly to the processing of agricultural products (sugar, oil mills, tobacco, breweries), a degree of importance has the textile industry. In large development is the tourism sector, one of the most promising in the Philippines, thanks to the beauty and diversity of natural landscapes of the archipelago.

The climate of the Philippines.

  • Area: 300,000 sqkm. (Arable 30%, Pastures 4%, Forests and Woodlands 45%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 21%)
  • Population: 92,337,852 (2010)
  • State Capital: Manila.
  • Languages: The official language are Filipino (Tagalog) and English.
  • Religion: Christian 94% (Catholic 81%, Philippine Independent Church 11%, Protestant 2%), Muslim 5%.
  • Currency: Peso (PHP)
  • Time: UTC +8 hours.

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