The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of some 7,100 islands and islets lying about 800 km off the southeast coast of Asia and stretching 1,850 km from north to south. It is bounded by the Philippine Sea to the east, the Celebes Sea to the south, and the South China Sea to the west and north. The Philippines takes its name from Philip II, who was king of Spain during the Spanish colonization of the islands in the 16th century. Manila is the biggest city and the national capital. It is located in Luzon, the largest island. Only about two-fifths of the islands and islets have names, and only 350 are larger than one square mile.
The Philippines is home to about 77 million people. Filipinos comprise 111 cultural and linguistic groups of Malayo-Polynesian origin, with varying degrees of Chinese, Spanish and American influences. About 90 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, with smaller numbers of Protestants and Moslems. The national language is Filipino, although English is the language of commerce and politics. Because it was ruled by Spain for 333 years and the United States for a further 48 years, the Philippines has many cultural affinities with the West. It is the fourth most populous country in which English is an official language and the only Christian country in Asia. Educationally, it is among the most advanced of Asian countries.Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes.
The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.
The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 sq. km.). Main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.
March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C; humidity is 77%.
There are a total of 76.5 million Filipinos as of the latest national census in May, 2000. Population growth is estimated at 2.36 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half of the entire population.
Two official languages — Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.
Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Kapampangan, and Pangasinense.
Filipino is that native language which is used nationally as the language of communication among ethnic groups. Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.
Some 83% of Filipinos are Catholic. About 5% are Moslem. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhist.
UNIT OF MEASURE
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.
220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.
The Philippines’ monetary unit is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotels, most large department stores, banks, and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Americard, Master Card, and American Express are accepted in major establishments