Facts about the Philippines

World Facts Index > Philippines > Manila

PhilippinesThe Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a "people power" movement in Manila ("EDSA 1") forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another "people power" movement ("EDSA 2") demanded his resignation. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists. Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and an ongoing cease-fire and peace talks with another.

Geography of the Philippines

Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam
13 00 N, 122 00 E
total: 300,000 sq km
water: 1,830 sq km
land: 298,170 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries:
0 km
36,289 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 NM from coastline as defined by 1898 treaty; since late 1970s has also claimed polygonal-shaped area in South China Sea up to 285 NM in breadth
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October)
mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Philippine Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Apo 2,954 m
Natural resources:
timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper
Natural hazards:
astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis
Environment current issues:
uncontrolled deforestation in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in Manila; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds
Geography - note:
favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia's main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait

More Geography

Population of the Philippines

96,061,680 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (male 15,961,365/female 15,340,065)
15-64 years: 61% (male 27,173,919/female 27,362,736)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 1,576,089/female 2,054,503)
Median age:
22.5 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
22.81 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.21 years
male: 67.32 years
female: 73.24 years
Fertility rate:
3.11 children born/woman
noun: Filipino(s)
adjective: Philippine
Ethnic groups:
Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Waray 3.4%, other 25.3%
Roman Catholic 80.9%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, Muslim 5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1%
two official languages - Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English; eight major dialects - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.9%
male: 96%
female: 95.8% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of the Philippines
local long form: Republika ng Pilipinas
local short form: Pilipinas
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
79 provinces and 115 chartered cities
12 June 1898 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 12 June (1898)
note: 12 June 1898 was the date of independence from Spain; 4 July 1946 was the date of independence from the US
2 February 1987, effective 11 February 1987
Legal system:
based on Spanish and Anglo-American law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (since 20 January 2001); note - president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (since 20 January 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with consent of Commission of Appointments
elections: president and vice president (Manuel "Noli" DE CASTRO) elected on separate tickets by popular vote for a single six-year term; election last held on 10 May 2004.
Legislative branch:
bicameral Congress or Kongreso consists of the Senate or Senado (24 seats - one-half elected every three years; members elected at large by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan (212 members representing districts plus 24 sectoral party-list members; members elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; note - the Constitution prohibits the House of Representatives from having more than 250 members)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (15 justices are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council and serve until 70 years of age); Court of Appeals; Sandigan-bayan (special court for hearing corruption cases of government officials)


The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three decades with real GDP growth exceeding 7% in 2007. Higher government spending contributed to the growth, but a resilient service sector and large remittances from the millions of Filipinos who work abroad have played an increasingly important role. Economic growth has averaged 5% since President MACAPAGAL-ARROYO took office in 2001. Nevertheless, the Philippines will need still higher, sustained growth to make progress in alleviating poverty, given its high population growth and unequal distribution of income. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO averted a fiscal crisis by pushing for new revenue measures and, until recently, tightening expenditures. Declining fiscal deficits, tapering debt and debt service ratios, as well as recent efforts to increase spending on infrastructure and social services have heightened optimism over Philippine economic prospects. Although the general macroeconomic outlook has improved significantly, the Philippines continues to face important challenges and must maintain the reform momentum in order to catch up with regional competitors, improve employment opportunities, and alleviate poverty. Longer-term fiscal stability will require more sustainable revenue sources, rather than non-recurring revenues from privatization.

$300.1 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 14.4%
industry: 32.6%
services: 53%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
36.73 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 36%
industry: 16%
services: 48%
revenues: $12.38 billion
expenditures: $15.77 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 55.6%
hydro: 17.5%
other: 26.9% 
nuclear: 0%
electronics assembly, garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, petroleum refining, fishing
sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, bananas, cassavas, pineapples, mangoes; pork, eggs, beef; fish
electronic equipment, machinery and transport equipment, garments, coconut products, chemicals
Export partners:
China 19.5%, US 16.1%, Japan 13.6%, Hong Kong 8.1%, Singapore 7.3%, Netherlands 5.5%, Taiwan 4.6%, Malaysia 4.4% 
raw materials, machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals
Import partners:
Japan 17.7%, US 14.1%, China 9%, Singapore 8.3%, Taiwan 7.3%, South Korea 5.7%, Hong Kong 5%, Malaysia 4.1%, Thailand 4.1%
Philippine peso (PHP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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