The Philippines are an island group in the Pacific Ocean, located between the South China Sea to the west and the Luzon Strait to the north. The Philippines consist of 7,107 islands, of which only around 880 are inhabited. Primarily Malays with Spanish or Chinese ancestors live there. What is truly unique in Asia is that just over 80% of the Filipinos are Roman Catholic. The name “ Philippines ” originated from King Philipp II of Spain .
National language(s): Filipino (Tagalog) and English (general lingua franca), some Spanish
Capital: Manila , ca. 12 million inhabitants
Form of government: presidential system, based on the constitution from 1987
Head of state and government: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Independence from Spain: on 12 June 1989 (unofficial), from the USA on 4 July 1946 (official)
National holiday: 12 June
Religions: circa 83% Catholic, 9% Protestants, 5% Muslim
Area: ca. 300,000 km 2
Population: ca. 85 million inhabitants (pop. growth rate: 2.3% annually)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nominal: USD $105.2 billion (2005)
GDP per capita: ca. USD $ 1,234 (2005 estimate)
Currency: Philippine peso PHP
Exchange rate (as of 13 February 2009): 1 EUR = 60.35 PHP; 100 PHP = 1.657 EUR
Time zone: UTC +8
Vehicle license code: RP
Internet top-level domain: ph
Country telephone prefix: + 63
The Philippine climate is influenced primarily by the proximity to the ocean; no site is located more than 200 km from the coast. The islands' location in the lower tropical latitudes and the impact of the surrounding sea create a relatively constant temperature of around 26 °C throughout the year with only minimal fluctuations. Most of the precipitation comes with the southwest monsoon, particularly in the time from May to November. On the west coast ( Manila ), the northeast monsoon brings only little precipitation, while a humid climate exists year-round on the east coast ( Davao ). Due to the primarily north-south orientation of the mountains, the western side of the islands receive much less precipitation than on the eastern side.
Flora and Fauna
Over 5,000 different animal and countless insect species as well as 14,000 different plants exist in the Philippines . Among these are water buffalo (carabao), parrots, flying squirrels, dolphins, crocodiles, snakes, tarsiers, manabos, turtles, lizards and others. The Philippine Duck, whose habitat is exclusively in the Philippines , is a type of mallard.
In the seas enveloping the islands one can still find many corals and colourful fish. Coral bleaching has mostly spared the Philippines up to now and has only occurred in isolated locations.