The Philippines, a democratic country in Southeast Asia that declared its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 but only obtained its full sovereignty on July 4, 1946, has a total land area covering 300,000 square kilometers (115,830 sq. miles) and distributed in 7,107 islands. According to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, 15,854,922 hectares or 53 percent of the country's total land area were forestlands while the remaining 14,145,078 hectares or 47 percent were alienable and disposable lands as of December 2000. The three major island groupings are Luzon (7 regions, 38 provinces), Visayas (3 regions, 16 provinces), and Mindanao (6 regions, 25 provinces).
World's 17th Largest Island
Luzon, with a total land area of 104,688 square kilometers is the world's 17th largest island (excluding continental masses of lands). Listed as the 19th largest island is Mindanao, with a land area of 94,631 square kilometers. The world's largest islands are Greenland (a Danish territory), with a total land area of 2.18 million square kilometers; New Guinea, 820,033 square kilometers; and Borneo, 743,107 square kilometers.
267,000 Square Kilometers of Coastal Waters
The coastal zones of the Philippines are composed of 11,000 square kilometers of land and 267,000 square kilometers of coastal waters.
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported that as of December 2001, the Philippines had 16 regions, 79 provinces, 114 cities, 1,496 municipalities and 41,960 barangays or villages. The newest province was Zamboanga Sibugay in western Mindanao while the newest city was Gapan in Nueva Ecija province. The most populated province as this was being written remained Cebu, with over 3 million residents while the least populated was Batanes, with less than 20,000 inhabitants. The largest province in terms of land area was Palawan, with 14,896 square kilometers while the smallest province was Batanes, with 209 square kilometers.
According to the Liga ng mga Barangay, the Philippines now has 41,960 barangays or villages. Each barangay in a municipality represents at least 2,000 people while each barangay in a highly urbanized city represents a minimum of 5,000 residents.
Metro Manila, 0.2 Percent of Land Area
Metro Manila, a conglomerate of 12 cities and five municipalities, has a total land area of 636 square kilometers and a population of over 10 million people, excluding transients or passing individuals. In proportion to the country's land size, the metropolis covers only 0.2 percent of the total land area of the Philippines but is the site of more than half of the country's largest companies. In 1999, Metro Manila contributed 34.7 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP); Southern Tagalog, 13.9 percent; Central Luzon, 8 percent; and the rest of the country, 43.4 percent.
There are 200 volcanoes in the Philippines, 22 of them are said to be active. The archipelago also sits on the Philippine fault zone, a 1,300-kilometer active left-lateral strike-fault from Luzon to Mindanao. This is why earthquakes occur in the country.
20 Typhoons Each Year
Situated between latitude 21°25'N and 4°23'N and longitude 116°E and 127°E, the Philippines is a tropical country with an average year-round temperature of 27°C (82°F). The Philippine time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus eight hours. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), about 20 typhoons visit the Philippines between June and October each year. In 1993, the Philippines had 32 typhoons, the highest in many years.
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), there are 78 language groupings and over 500 dialects in the Philippines. While Filipino is regarded as the national language, it was mainly based on Tagalog (from the local phrase taga-ilog meaning residents near the river) language. The main language of instruction is English and the country's laws are also recorded in this language. Filipinos are said to be the world's second largest English-speaking people, after the Americans. This, of course, is subject to debate since only a few Filipinos actually talk in English on the street.