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Coordinates: 13°N122°E / 13°N 122°E / 13; 122

Republic of the Philippines

Republika ng Pilipinas  (Filipino)
" Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa " [1]
"For God, People, Nature and Country"
Anthem:  Lupang Hinirang
(English: "Chosen Land")
Great Seal
Seal of the Philippines.svg
Dakilang Sagisag ng Pilipinas   (Filipino)
Great Seal of the Philippines
PHL orthographic.svg
Location Philippines ASEAN.svg
Capital Manila a
14°35′N120°58′E / 14.583°N 120.967°E / 14.583; 120.967
Largest city Quezon City
14°38′N121°02′E / 14.633°N 121.033°E / 14.633; 121.033
Official languages
Recognized regional languages
Protected auxiliary languages
Other recognized languagesOfficial and national sign language b
Filipino Sign Language
Ethnic groups
Demonym(s) Filipino
(masculine or neutral)
(colloquial masculine or neutral)
(colloquial feminine)
Government Unitary Presidential Constitutional Republic
Rodrigo Duterte
Maria Leonor Robredo
Vicente Sotto III
Alan Peter Cayetano
Diosdado Peralta
Legislature Congress
House of Representatives
Formation of the republic  
June 12, 1898
  Treaty of Paris (1898) / Spanish cession d
December 10, 1898
January 21, 1899
March 24, 1934
May 14, 1935
July 4, 1946
February 2, 1987
300,000 [6] [7]  km2 (120,000 sq mi)(72nd)
 Water (%)
0.61 [8]  (inland waters)
 2015 census
100,981,437 [9] (13th)
336/km2 (870.2/sq mi)(47th)
GDP  (PPP)2020 estimate
$1.110 trillion [10] (27th)
 Per capita
$10,094 [10] (112th (2019))
GDP  (nominal)2020 estimate
$383 billion [10] (32nd)
 Per capita
$3,484 [10] (125th (2019))
Gini  (2015)Decrease Positive.svg 44.4 [11]
medium ·  44th
HDI  (2018)Increase2.svg 0.712 [12]
high ·  106th
Currency Peso (₱) (PHP)
Time zone UTC+8 (PST)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+8 (Not Observed)
Date format
  • mm-dd-yyyy
  • dd-mm-yyyy (AD)
Driving side right, [13] formerly left before 1947/1948
Calling code +63
ISO 3166 code PH
Internet TLD .ph
  1. ^ While Manila proper is designated as the nation's capital, the whole of National Capital Region (NCR) is designated as seat of government, hence the name of a region. This is because it has many national government institutions aside from Malacañang Palace and some agencies/institutions that are located within the capital city. [14]
  2. ^ Article 3 of Republic Act No. 11106 declared the Filipino Sign Language as the national sign language of the Philippines, specifying that it shall be recognized, supported and promoted as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf, and as the language of instruction of deaf education. [15] [16]
  3. ^ The 1987 Philippine constitution specifies "Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis." [17]
  4. ^ Filipino revolutionaries declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, but Spain ceded the islands to the United States for $20 million in the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, which eventually led to the Philippine–American War.
  5. ^ The United States of America recognized the independence of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, through the Treaty of Manila. [18] This date was chosen because it corresponds to the U.S. Independence Day, which was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until May 12, 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, shifting it to June 12, the date of Emilio Aguinaldo's proclamation. [19]
  6. ^ In accordance with article 11 of the Revolutionary Government Decree of June 23, 1898, the Malolos Congress selected a commission to draw up a draft constitution on September 17, 1898. The commission was composed of Hipólito Magsalin, Basilio Teodoro, José Albert, Joaquín González, Gregorio Araneta, Pablo Ocampo, Aguedo Velarde, Higinio Benitez, Tomás del Rosario, José Alejandrino, Alberto Barretto, José Ma. de la Viña, José Luna, Antonio Luna, Mariano Abella, Juan Manday, Felipe Calderón, Arsenio Cruz and Felipe Buencamino. [20] They were all wealthy and well educated. [21]

The Philippines ( /ˈfɪləpnz/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Filipino : Pilipinas [ˌpɪlɪˈpinɐs] or Filipinas [ˌfɪlɪˈpinɐs] ), officially the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino : Republika ng Pilipinas), [lower-alpha 1] is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands [22] that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. [23] Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Palau to the east, Indonesia to the south, Malaysia and Brunei to the southwest, Vietnam to the west, and China to the northwest.

The Philippines' location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the country prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world's greatest biodiversity. The Philippines is the world's fifth-largest island country with an area of 300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi). [24] [6] [7] As of 2015, it had a population of at least 100 million. [9] As of January 2018, it is the eighth-most populated country in Asia and the 12th-most populated country in the world. Approximately 10 million additional Filipinos lived overseas as of 2013, [25] comprising one of the world's largest diasporas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples. [26] Exchanges with Malay, Indian, Arab and Chinese nations occurred. Subsequently, various competing maritime states were established under the rule of datus, rajahs, sultans and lakans.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer leading a fleet for the Spanish, in Homonhon, Eastern Samar in 1521 marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. With the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565, the first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established. [27] The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. This resulted in Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade connecting Asia with Acapulco in the Americas using Manila galleons. [28]

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the Philippine Revolution quickly followed, which then spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic, followed by the bloody Philippine–American War. [29] The war, as well as the ensuing cholera epidemic, resulted in the deaths of thousands of combatants as well as tens of thousands of civilians. [30] [31] [32] [33] After the war, the United States retained sovereignty over the country until the Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of the islands during World War II. Later in the war it was liberated by the combined forces of Americans and Filipinos, and by 1946 was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the unitary sovereign state has often had a tumultuous experience with democracy, which included the overthrow of a dictatorship by a non-violent revolution. [34]

The Philippines is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. It also hosts the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank. [35] The Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country, [36] which has an economy transitioning from being based on agriculture to being based more on services and manufacturing. [37] Along with East Timor, the Philippines is one of Southeast Asia's predominantly Christian nations.


Philip II of Spain Philip II portrait by Titian.jpg
Philip II of Spain

The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, during his expedition in 1542, named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then-Prince of Asturias. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. Before that became commonplace, other names such as Islas del Poniente (Islands of the West) and Magellan's name for the islands, San Lázaro, were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands. [38] [39] [40] [41] [42]

The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, the Malolos Congress proclaimed the establishment of the República Filipina or the Philippine Republic . From the period of the Spanish–American War (1898) and the Philippine–American War (1899–1902) until the Commonwealth period (1935–1946), American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the Spanish name. [29] Since the end of World War II, the official name of the country has been the Republic of the Philippines. Philippines, with or without the definite article, has steadily gained currency as the common name since being the name used in Article VI of the 1898 Treaty of Paris. [43]



Discovery in 2018 of stone tools and fossils of butchered animal remains in Rizal, Kalinga has pushed back evidence of early hominins in the archipelago to as early as 709,000 years. The Philippines served as a connection to mainland Asia and Wallacea during the Early to Middle Pleistocene, facilitating the spread of hominins and megafauna to what is now eastern Indonesia. [44]

Tabon Caves are the site of one of the oldest human remains found in the Philippines: Tabon Man Tabon Cave 2014 04.JPG
Tabon Caves are the site of one of the oldest human remains found in the Philippines: Tabon Man

The oldest remains of modern humans in the islands, however, is the Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon-dated to 47,000 ± 11–10,000 years ago. [45] The Tabon man is presumably a Negrito, who were among the archipelago's earliest inhabitants, descendants of the first human migrations out of Africa via the coastal route along southern Asia to the now sunken landmasses of Sundaland and Sahul. [46] Previously, it was believed that the earliest putative record of modern humans in Southeast Asia is from the Callao Cave of northern Luzon, dated to around 67,000 BP. [46] [47] However, in 2019, the remains were identified as belonging to a new species of archaic humans, Homo luzonensis . [48]

There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos, starting with the "Waves of Migration" hypothesis of H. Otley Beyer in 1948, which claimed that Filipinos were "Indonesians" and "Malays" who migrated to the islands. This is completely rejected by modern anthropologists and is not supported by any evidence, but the hypothesis is still widely taught in Filipino elementary and public schools resulting in the widespread misconception by Filipinos that they are "Malays". [49] [50]

In 1967, Filipino anthropologist Felipe Landa Jocano proposed the "Core Population" theory which posits that ancestors of the Filipinos evolved locally, rejecting Beyer's assertion that Filipinos are the same ethnic groups as the Malay people. His proposal roughly aligns with the more recent "Out of Sundaland" model proposed by a minority of academics, which includes Wilhelm Solheim's "Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network". It postulates that the peopling of the archipelago transpired via trade networks originating in the Sundaland area (modern Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula) which was then inundated by rising sea levels at the end of the Last Glacial Period (around 11,700 years ago). They propose that there was then a range of material and genetic exchanges between populations in an arc from the coasts and islands of Papua New Guinea to Japan by around 48,000 to 5000 BC rather than by wide-scale migration. [51] [52] [53]

Chronological map of the Austronesian expansion Chronological dispersal of Austronesian people across the Pacific (per Bellwood in Chambers, 2008).png
Chronological map of the Austronesian expansion

The most widely accepted theory, however, is the "Out-of-Taiwan" model which follows the Austronesian expansion during the Neolithic in a series of maritime migrations originating from Taiwan that spread to the islands of the Indo-Pacific; ultimately reaching as far as New Zealand, Easter Island, and Madagascar. [54] [55] Austronesians themselves originated from the Neolithic rice-cultivating pre-Austronesian civilizations of the Yangtze River delta in coastal southeastern China pre-dating the conquest of those regions by the Han Chinese. This includes civilizations like the Liangzhu culture, Hemudu culture, and the Majiabang culture. [56] It connects speakers of the Austronesian languages in a common linguistic and genetic lineage, including the Taiwanese indigenous peoples, Islander Southeast Asians, Chams, Islander Melanesians, Micronesians, Polynesians, and the Malagasy people. Aside from language and genetics, they also share common cultural markers like multihull and outrigger boats, tattooing, rice cultivation, wetland agriculture, teeth blackening, jade carving, betel nut chewing, ancestor worship, and the same domesticated plants and animals (including dogs, pigs, chickens, yams, bananas, sugarcane, and coconuts). [54] [55] [57]

Best-fit genomic mixture proportions of Austronesians in Island Southeast Asia and their inferred population movements Early stages of the Austronesian diaspora showing best-fit genomic proportions of Austronesian-speaking peoples in ISEA and their inferred population movements.png
Best-fit genomic mixture proportions of Austronesians in Island Southeast Asia and their inferred population movements

The first Austronesians reached the Philippines at around 2200 BC, settling the Batanes Islands and northern Luzon. From there, they rapidly spread downwards to the rest of the islands of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, as well as voyaging further east to reach the Northern Mariana Islands by around 1500 BC. [54] [59] [60] They assimilated earlier Australo-Melanesian groups (the Negritos) which arrived during the Paleolithic, resulting in the modern Filipino ethnic groups which all display various ratios of genetic admixture between Austronesian and Negrito groups. [58]

During the Neolithic period, a "jade culture" was prominent in the islands, as evidenced by tens of thousands of exquisitely crafted jade artifacts found in the Philippines dated to 2000 BC. [61] [62] The jade used has been traced to deposits in Taiwan, although the jade artifacts themselves (known as lingling-o ) were manufactured locally in Luzon. These artifacts have been found in many other areas in insular and mainland Southeast Asia, indicating long range maritime trade and communication between prehistoric Southeast Asian societies. [63] By 1000 BC, the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and port principalities. [64]

The discovery of iron at around the 1st century AD created significant social and economic changes which allowed settlements to grow larger and develop new social patterns, characterized by social stratification and specialization. [65]

Precolonial period

A Boxer Codex image illustrating the ancient kadatuan or tumao (noble class). Naturales 4.png
A Boxer Codex image illustrating the ancient kadatuan or tumao (noble class).

The current demarcation between the Prehistory and the Early history of the Philippines is 21 April 900, which is the equivalent on the Proleptic Gregorian calendar for the date indicated on the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI) — the earliest known surviving written record to come from the Philippines. [66] This date came in the middle of what anthropologists refer to as the Philippines' "Emergent Phase" (1st–14th centuries CE), which was characterized by newly emerging socio-cultural patterns, the initial development of large coastal settlements, greater social stratification and specialization, and the beginnings of local and international trade. [65] By the 1300s, a number of the large coastal settlements had become progressive trading centers, and became the focal point of societal changes, ushering complex life-ways which characterized what F. Landa Jocano called the "Barangic Phase" of early Philippine history, beginning from the 14th century through the arrival of Spanish colonizers and the beginning of the Philippines' colonial period. [65] "Barangay" a community defined by personal attachment, not territorial location. The term, barangay, originally describes both a house on land and a boat on water; containing families, friends and dependents and is currently the basic political unit of the Philippines. [67] [68] The Barangic Phase of history can be noted for its highly mobile nature, with barangays transforming from being settlements and turning into fleets and vice versa, with the wood constantly re-purposed according to the situation. [69] Politics during this era was personality-driven and organization was based on shifting alliances and contested loyalties set in a backdrop of constant inter-polity interactions, both through war and peace. [70]

Austronesian proto-historic and historic maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean Austronesian maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean.png
Austronesian proto-historic and historic maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean

Some of these polities, particularly the coastal settlements at or near the mouths of large rivers, [70] eventually developed substantial trade contacts with the early trading powers of Southeast Asia, most importantly the Indianized kingdoms of Malaysia and Java, the various dynasties of China, [70] Thailand, [72] and later, the Muslim Sultanate of Brunei. [69] They also traded with Vietnam, [72] Japan, [73] and other Austronesian islands. [74]

Based on archaeological findings, trade with China is believed to have begun in the Tang dynasty, but grew more extensive during the Song dynasty. [69] By the 2nd millennium CE, some (but not all) Philippine polities were known to have sent trade delegations which participated in the Tributary system enforced by the Chinese imperial court. [69] These "tributary states" nominally acknowledged the Sinocentric system which saw China and the imperial court as the cultural center of the world. Among the early Philippine polities, this arrangement fulfilled the requirements for trade with China, but did not actually translate into political or military control. [69] [70]

The Ifugao/Igorot people utilized terrace farming in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines over 2000 years ago. Rice terraces.png
The Ifugao/Igorot people utilized terrace farming in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines over 2000 years ago.

Regarding the relations of early Philippine polities with the various state-level polities of Indonesia and Malaysia, legendary accounts often mention the interaction of early Philippine polities with the Srivijaya empire, but there is not much archaeological evidence to definitively support such a relationship. [65] Considerable evidence exists, on the other hand, for extensive trade with the Majapahit empire. [75]

The exact scope and mechanisms of Indian cultural influences on early Philippine polities are still the subject of some debate among Southeast Asian historiographers, [65] [76] but the current scholarly consensus is that there was probably little or no direct trade between India and the Philippines, [65] [76] and Indian cultural traits, such as linguistic terms and religious practices, [75] filtered in during the 10th through the early 14th centuries, through early Philippine polities' relations with the Hindu Majapahit empire. [65] The Philippine archipelago is thus one of the countries, (others include Afghanistan and Southern Vietnam) just at the outer edge of what is considered the "Greater Indian cultural zone". [76]

The early polities of the Philippine archipelago were typically characterized by a three-tier social structure. [65] [70] Although different cultures had different terms to describe them, this three-tier structure invariably consisted of an apex nobility class, a class of "freemen", and a class of dependent debtor-bondsmen called "alipin" or "oripun." [65] [70] Among the members of the nobility class were leaders who held the political office of "Datu," which was responsible for leading autonomous social groups called "barangay" or "dulohan". [65] Whenever these barangays banded together, either to form a larger settlement [65] or a geographically looser alliance group, [70] the more senior or respected among them would be recognized as a "paramount datu", variedly called a Lakan, Sultan, Rajah, or simply a more senior Datu (These types of datus had power over other monarchs due to being great characters). [69] [65] [77]

Early historic coastal city-states and polities

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, c. 900. The oldest known historical record found in the Philippines, discovered at Lumban, Laguna. Extract from Inskripsyon sa Binatbat na Tanso ng Laguna.jpg
The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, c. 900. The oldest known historical record found in the Philippines, discovered at Lumban, Laguna.
The Butuan Ivory Seal (c. 1002) was recovered in the 1970s in Butuan. Butuan Ivory Seal.jpg
The Butuan Ivory Seal (c.1002) was recovered in the 1970s in Butuan.
17th-century depiction of a Visayan karakoa, an outrigger warship, from Historia de las islas e indios de Bisayas (1668) by Francisco Ignacio Alcina Visayan karakoa.jpg
17th-century depiction of a Visayan karakoa , an outrigger warship, from Historia de las islas e indios de Bisayas (1668) by Francisco Ignacio Alcina
The Kris (or Kalis), sacred swords used by precolonial Filipinos, that were wielded as standard weapons. Kris and scabbard.jpg
The Kris (or Kalis), sacred swords used by precolonial Filipinos, that were wielded as standard weapons.

The earliest historical record of local polities and kingdoms is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, which indirectly refers to the Tagalog polity of Tondo (c.before 900–1589) and two to three other settlements believed to be located somewhere near Tondo, as well as a settlement near Mt. Diwata in Mindanao, and the temple complex of Medang in Java. [66] Although the precise political relationships between these polities is unclear in the text of the inscription, the artifact is usually accepted as evidence of intra- and inter-regional political linkages as early as 900 CE. [66] [69] [70] By the arrival of the earliest European ethnographers during the 1500s, Tondo was led by the paramount ruler called a "Lakan". [69] [70] It had grown into a major trading hub, sharing a monopoly with the Rajahnate of Maynila over the trade of Ming dynasty [80] products throughout the archipelago. [69] This trade was significant enough that the Yongle Emperor appointed a Chinese governor named Ko Ch'a-lao to oversee it. [81] [82]

The next historical record referring to a location in the Philippines, is Volume 186 of the official history of the Song dynasty which describes the polity of Ma-i (c.before 971 – after 1339). Song dynasty traders visited Ma-i annually, and their accounts described Ma-i's geography, trade products, and the trade behaviors of its rulers. [83] Chinese merchants noted that Ma-i's citizens were honest and trustworthy. [84] Because the descriptions of Mai's location in these accounts are unclear, there is dispute about Mai's location, with some scholars believing it was located in Bay, Laguna, [85] and others believing it was on the island of Mindoro. [86]

The official history of the Song dynasty next refers to the Rajahnate of Butuan (c.before 1001–1756) in northeastern Mindanao which is the first polity from the Philippine archipelago recorded as having sent a tribute mission to the Chinese empire—on March 17, 1001 CE. Butuan attained prominence under the rule of Rajah Sri Bata Shaja. [74]

Writing in the 13th century, the Chinese historian Chao Ju-Kua mentioned raids conducted by the Pi-sho-ye on the port cities of southern China between A.D. 1174–1190, which he believed came by way of the southern portion of the island of Taiwan. [87] Subsequent historians identified these raiders as Visayans while the historian Efren B. Isorena, through analysis of historical accounts and wind currents in the Pacific side of East and Southeast Asia, concluded that said raiders were most likely the people of Ibabao (the pre-Hispanic name for the eastern coast and a portion of the northern coast of Samar). [88]

The Chinese also mention a polity called "Luzon." This is believed to be a reference to Maynila since Portuguese and Spanish accounts from the 1520s explicitly state that "Luçon" and "Maynila" were "one and the same", [69] although some historians argue that since none of these observers actually visited Maynila, "Luçon" may simply have referred to all the Tagalog and Kapampangan polities that rose up on the shores of Manila Bay. [89] Either way, from the early 1500s to as late as the 1560s, this seafaring people was referred to in Portuguese Malacca as Luções, and they set up many overseas communities across Southeast Asia where they participated in trading ventures and military campaigns in Burma, Malacca and Eastern Timor [90] [lower-alpha 2] [92] as traders and mercenaries. [93] [94] [95] One prominent Luções was Regimo de Raja, who was a spice magnate and a Temenggung (Jawi: تمڠݢوڠ) [96] (Governor and Chief General) in Portuguese Malacca. He was also the head of an international armada which traded and protected commerce between the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea, [97] and the medieval maritime principalities of the Philippines. [98] [99]

In northern Luzon, Caboloan (Pangasinan) (c.1406–1576) sent emissaries to China in 1406–1411 as a tributary-state, [100] and it also traded with Japan. [73]

The 1300s saw the arrival and eventual spread of Islam in the Philippine archipelago. In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting Sulu's rajah, Rajah Baguinda Ali and marrying his daughter. [101] [102] At the end of the 15th century, Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. The sultanate form of government extended further into Lanao. [103]

1890 illustration by Rafael Monleon of a late 18th-century Iranun lanong warship which were used in piracy and slave raids. Iranun lanong warship by Rafael Monleon (1890).jpg
1890 illustration by Rafael Monleón of a late 18th-century Iranun lanong warship which were used in piracy and slave raids.

Islam then started to spread out of Mindanao in the south and went into Luzon in the north. [104] This was accomplished because the Sultanate of Brunei, which was previously known as Poni, had seceded from Majapahit and had converted to Islam and then had invited an Arab Emir from Mecca, Sharif Ali, [105] to become Sultan and his descendant, Sultan Bolkiah set up Manila in Luzon as an Islamic colony during his reign from 1485 to 1521. [106] Thereby again subjugating rebellious Tondo by defeating Rajah Gambang in battle and thereafter installing the Muslim rajah, Rajah Salalila to the throne. Thus reestablishing the Bruneian vassal-state of the Muslim Rajahnate of Maynila as its enforcer in Luzon. [107] [108] [109] [110] Sultan Bolkiah also married Laila Mecana, who is the daughter of Sulu Sultan Amir Ul-Ombra of newly Islamized Sulu, to expand Brunei's influence in both Luzon island and the Sulu archipelago. [111] Brunei was so powerful, it already subjugated their Hindu Bornean neighbor, Kutai to the south, though it survived through a desperate alliance with Hindu Butuan and Cebu which were already struggling against encroaching Islamic powers like Maguindanao. Brunei had also conquered the northern third and the southern third of the Philippines [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] but failed to conquer the Visayas islands even though Sultan Bolkiah himself was half-Visayan from his Visayan mother. Sultan Bolkiah is associated with the legend of Nakhoda Ragam the singing captain, a myth about a handsome, virile, strong, musically gifted and angelic voiced prince who is known for his martial exploits. There is contextual evidence that Sultan Bolkiah may indeed be Nakhoda Ragam, since he is of half Visayan-Filipino descent since later Spanish accounts record that Filipinos, especially Visayans, were obsessed with singing and the warrior castes were particularly known for their great singing abilities. [120]

The Muslims then proceeded to wage wars and conduct slave-raids against the Visayans. [121] Participating in the Muslim raids, the Sultanate of Ternate, a Muslim state centered in the Moluccas which grew powerful due to their monopoly of spice, consequently destroyed the polity of Bohol. [122] This forced the Boholanos to reestablish their country in northern Mindanao and displace the citizens of the Sultanate of Lanao as they conquered their territory. The Rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu also endured slave raids from, and waged wars against the Sultanate of Maguindanao [123] while their southern Hindu ally, the Rajahnate of Kutai, struggled with the Sultanate of Brunei for hegemony over Borneo island. Simultaneous with these Muslim slave-raids against the Visayans, was the rebellion of Datu Lapu-Lapu of Mactan against Rajah Humabon of Cebu. [124] There was also a simmering territorial conflict between the Polity of Tondo and the Bruneian vassal-state, the Islamic Rajahnate of Maynila, to which the ruler of Maynila, Rajah Matanda, sought military assistance against Tondo from his relatives at the Sultanate of Brunei. [125]

The rivalries between the Datus, Rajahs, Sultans, and Lakans eventually eased Spanish colonization. Furthermore, the islands were sparsely populated. [126] Therefore, the thinly manned territory was overpowered, and the small states of the archipelago quickly became incorporated into the Spanish Empire and were Hispanicized and Christianized. [127]

Colonial era

Journalist Alan Robles has opined, "Colonialism created the Philippines, shaped its political culture and continues to influence its mindset. The 333 years under Spain and nearly five decades under the USA decisively moulded the nation". [128] Anthropologist Prospero Covar has observed, "Our thinking, culture, and psychology became virtually westernized, when we were, in fact, Asians." [129]

Spanish rule

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan's expedition arrived in the Philippines, claimed the islands for Spain and was then killed at the Battle of Mactan. [130] Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Hispanic settlements in Cebu. After relocating to Panay island and consolidating an alliance of native Filipino (Visayan) allies, Hispanic soldiers and Latin-American recruits, led by conquistadors such as Mexico-born Juan de Salcedo, [131] had invaded Muslim Manila. Juan de Salcedo had inspired military feats due to his love for the beautiful princess of Bruneian-besieged Tondo, Kandarapa, they had a tragic forbidden romance. Yet princess Kandarapa proved the intensity of her love when she died of a broken-heart when she heard lies that her Mexican knight had married the daughter of the Rajah of Macabebe. [132] While the romance was still active, the Spanish-Mexican-Filipino coalition then invaded Islamic Manila, liberated and incorporated Tondo. Luzon was then placed under Spanish rule.

They established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies (1571). [133] The former Bruneian Muslim elite that ruled Manila was forced into Christianity and in vengeance, conspired with the Japanese Shogunate and the Brunei Sultanate to re-invade and re-islamize Manila. Several war fleets were raised in Brunei in order to retake Manila but all were frustrated. However, nearby Mindoro, being a former developed Buddhist state transformed into a Muslim colony with its own stone fort and cannons, was utterly ruined and depopulated due to it turning into a war-zone between contesting Christian and Muslim powers, with the Moros from Mindanao attempting to Re-islamize the place by enslaving recent Christian converts there or forcing them to revert to Islam which was opposed by, and the situation made worse because, Christians from Manila had repeatedly demolished and extinguished any Muslim attempt to refortify the island and had also force converted any Muslim they encountered into becoming Christians. Thus destroying the once wealthy and populous cities of Mindoro and transforming the province into an impoverished and embattled military frontier zone. [134] [135]

Spanish mestizo costume.jpg
Chinese mestizo costume.jpg
The native costumes Barong Tagalog and the earlier variants of Baro't saya of the females, were developed during the Spanish era.

The Spanish forces also defeated the Chinese warlord Limahong. [136] [137] To counteract the Islamization of the Philippines, the Spanish then conducted the Castilian War which was aimed against the Sultanate of Brunei [138] [139] and war was also waged against the Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore (in response to Ternatean slaving and piracy against Spain's vassal states: Dapitan and Butuan). [140] The Castilian War was justified by a civil war in the Bruneian Empire when the legitimate ruler, Pengiran Seri Lela was removed from power by his jealous brother, Sultan Saiful Rijal. Pengiran Seri Lela offered vassalage under the Spanish to reclaim his crown. [141] The Spanish forces sacked the capital and prepared to reinstall Pengiran Seri Lela to the throne, unfortunately he died, allegedly by poisoning, and the Spanish forces were suddenly afflicted by cholera which forced them to leave, however the Imperial princess of Brunei left with the Spanish and married the Christian Tagalog warrior, Agustín de Legazpi of Tondo, she bravely defied the Quranic punishment of stoning Muslim women who marry Non-Muslim men to death, [142] and the couple had a family in the Philippines. In modern times, Bruneian-Philippine relations were symbolically restored when the Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin helped designed the Istana Nurul Iman which is now the largest residential Palace in the world. [143] Brunei is also in Borneo which is simultaneously the home of the second oldest rain forest in the world and is part of the Coral Triangle, the center of worldwide marine biodiversity. [144] The Spanish considered their war with the Muslims in Southeast Asia an extension of the Reconquista, [145] a centuries-long campaign to retake and rechristianize the Spanish homeland which was invaded by the Muslims of the Umayyad Caliphate. The Spanish expeditions into the Philippines were also part of a larger Ibero-Islamic world conflict [146] that included a just war against the Ottoman Caliphate which had just recently invaded former Christian lands in the Eastern Mediterranean and had a center of operations at its nearby protectorate, the Sultanate of Aceh [147] which was the first missionary center of expanding Islam in Southeast Asia and had grew at the expense of older Animist, Hindu or Buddhist states that had remained loyal to their religions in the face of an encroaching Islam. These states were sought as allies by Christian newcomers. [148] However, the Muslim Sultanates in the Philippines thought differently, to them, preserving and propagating Islam was a merely an act of self-defense against a Christian invader. [149] Both sides had noble justifications in their wars against each other. [150] The racial make-up of the Christian side was diverse since they were usually made up of Mestizos, Mulattoes and Native Americans (Aztecs, Mayans and Incans) who were gathered and sent from the Americas and were led by Spanish officers who had worked together with native Filipinos in military campaigns across the Southeast Asia. The Muslim side was also equally racially diverse. In addition to the native Malay warriors, the Ottomans had repeatedly sent military expeditions to nearby Aceh. The expeditions were composed mainly of Turks, Egyptians, Swahilis, Somalis, Sindhis, Gujaratis and Malabars. [151] These expeditionary forces had also spread to other Sultanates such as nearby Brunei and had taught local mujahideen new fighting tactics and techniques on how to forge modern cannons. Ottoman manufacturing techniques and martial organization were so ingrained, the Christian soldiers who warred with these Malay Sultanates observed Ottoman influence in their militaries. [152] [153] After, the Spanish expedition to Brunei, the Spaniards put down the Conspiracy of the Maharlikas which was mainly composed of pro-Bruneian and pro-Japanese conspirators and then the Spanish exiled these conspirators to Guam and Guerrero. [154] In time, Spanish fortifications were also set up in Taiwan and the Maluku islands. These were abandoned and the Spanish soldiers, along with the newly Christianized natives of the Moluccas, withdrew back to the Philippines in order to re-concentrate their military forces because of a threatened invasion by the Japan-born Ming-dynasty loyalist, Koxinga, ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning. [155] However, the planned invasion was aborted. Meanwhile, settlers were sent to the Pacific islands of Palau and the Marianas. [156] In Sharia law, only non-Muslims were allowed to be slaves, so as the conversion of Southeast Asia to Islam went about, the importance of the non-Muslim character of Spanish Philippines made it a factor as a source of slave-labor for Muslim states to the west as the flow of slave labor was generally East to West. [157] In the Mediterranean, the Spanish were also dealing with Islamic slave raiding in the Christian parts of the sea. [158] Thus, there was a world-wide coordinated Spanish attempt to counter-act the growing Islamic slave raids that was targeted against them. [138] However, with the few exceptions of Manila, Mindoro, Palawan and Zamboanga; Spanish interests in Christianizing Muslim areas faded because they were less profitable than trade with China or Japan. [159]

A sketch of a Manila galleon used during the Manila-Acapulco Trade. Spanish Galleon.jpg
A sketch of a Manila galleon used during the Manila-Acapulco Trade.

Spanish rule eventually contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the fragmented states of the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. The Manila galleons, the largest wooden ships ever built, were constructed in Bicol and Cavite. [160] The Manila galleons were accompanied with a large naval escort as it traveled to and from Manila and Acapulco. [161] The galleons sailed once or twice a year, between the 16th and 19th centuries. [162] The Manila Galleons brought with them goods, [163] settlers [164] and military reinforcements destined for the Philippines, from Latin America. [165] The reverse voyage also brought Asian commercial products [166] and immigrants [167] to the western side of the Americas. [168]

Trade introduced foodstuffs such as maize, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, chocolate and pineapples from Mexico and Peru. Within the Philippines, the Marquisate of Buglas was established and the rule of it was awarded to Sebastian Elcano and his crew, the survivors of the first circumnavigation of the world, as well as his descendants. New towns were also created [137] and Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity. [169] They also founded schools, a university, hospitals and churches which were built along the Earthquake Baroque architectural style. [170] To defend their settlements, the Spaniards constructed and manned a network of military fortresses (called "Presidios") across the archipelago. [171] The Spanish also decreed the introduction of free public schooling in 1863. [172] Slavery was also abolished. As a result of these policies the Philippine population increased exponentially. [173] [174]

The landing of the Spanish expedition to Sulu by Antonio Brugada. Landing Balanguingui.jpg
The landing of the Spanish expedition to Sulu by Antonio Brugada.

During its rule, Spain quelled various indigenous revolts. There were also several external military challenges from Chinese and Japanese pirates, the Dutch, the English, the Portuguese and the Muslims of Southeast Asia. Those challengers were fought off despite the hostile forces having encircled the Philippine archipelago in a crescent formed from Japan to Indonesia. The Philippines was maintained at a considerable cost during Spanish rule. The long war against the Dutch from the West, in the 17th century, together with the intermittent conflict with the Muslims in the South and combating Japanese-Chinese Wokou piracy from the North nearly bankrupted the colonial treasury. [175] Furthermore, the state of near constant wars caused a high desertion rate among the Latino soldiers sent from Mexico [176] and Peru that were stationed in the Philippines. [177] [178] This left only the fittest and strongest to survive and serve out their military service. The high desertion rates also applied to the native Filipino warriors and laborers levied by Spain, to fight in battles all across the archipelago and elsewhere or build galleons and public works. The repeated wars, lack of wages, dislocation and near starvation were so intense, almost half of the soldiers sent from Latin America and the warriors and laborers recruited locally either died or disbanded to the lawless countryside to live as vagabonds among the rebellious natives, escaped enslaved Indians (From India) [179] and Negrito nomads, where they race-mixed through rape or prostitution, [180] which further blurred the racial caste system Spain tried so hard to maintain in the towns and cities. [181] These circumstances contributed to the increasing difficulty of governing the Philippines. Due to these, the Royal Fiscal of Manila wrote a letter to King Charles III of Spain, in which he advises to abandon the colony, but this was successfully opposed by the religious and missionary orders that argued that the Philippines was a launching pad for further conversions in the Far East. [182] The non-profitable war-torn Philippine colony survived on an annual subsidy paid by the Spanish Crown and often procured from taxes and profits accumulated by the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico) mainly paid by annually sending 75 tons of precious Silver Bullion [183] gathered from and mined from Potosi, Bolivia where hundreds of thousands of Incan lives were regularly lost while being enslaved to the Mit'a system. [184] Unfortunately, the silver mined through the cost of irreplaceable lives and being a precious metal, meaning a finite resource, barely made it to the starving or dying Spanish, Mexican, Peruvian and Filipino soldiers who were stationed in Presidios across the archipelago struggling against constant invasions while it was sought after by Chinese, Indian, Arab and Malay merchants in Manila who traded with the Latinos for their precious metal in exchange for Silks, Spices, Pearls and Aromatics and etc. which were products which can merely be grown and manufactured whereas American silver was finite. Thus, the 200-year-old fortifications at Manila had not been improved much since first built by the early Spanish colonizers. [185] This was one of the circumstances that made possible the brief British occupation of Manila.

British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764 in an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War yet the British were frustrated since they were unable to extend their conquest outside of Manila as the Filipinos stayed loyal to the remaining Spanish community outside Manila. Spanish rule was restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. [127] [186] [187] The Spanish–Moro conflict lasted for several hundred years. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Spain conquered portions of Mindanao and the Moro Muslims in the Sulu Sultanate formally recognized Spanish sovereignty.

Photograph of armed Filipino revolutionaries known as Katipuneros. Katipuneros.jpg
Photograph of armed Filipino revolutionaries known as Katipuneros .

In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Filipino society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines ( criollos ) [188] and those of mixed ancestry ( mestizos ) became wealthy and an influx of Hispanic American immigrants opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula ( peninsulares ). However, ideas of rebellion and independence began to spread through the islands. Many Latin-Americans [189] and Criollos were mostly officers in the army of Spanish Philippines. However, the onset of the Latin American wars of independence led to serious doubts of their loyalty, this was compounded by the fact that in the Mexican War of Independence, a Mexican of Filipino descent, Isidoro Montes de Oca, became a formidable captain-general to the revolutionary leader Vicente Guerrero. [190] [191] [192] So, to prevent the union of forces by both Latinos and Filipinos in rebellion against the empire, the Latino and Criollo officers stationed in the Philippines were soon replaced by Peninsular officers born in Spain. These Peninsular officers were often less committed to the people they were assigned to protect and were often predatory, wanting to enrich themselves before returning to Spain, putting the interests of the metropolis over the interest of the natives. The Criollo and Latino dissatisfaction against them spurred by their love of the land and their suffering people had a justified hatred against the exploitative Peninsulares who were only appointed due to their race and unflinching loyalty to the homeland. This resulted in the uprising of Andres Novales a Philippine born soldier who earned great fame in richer Spain but chose to return to serve in poorer Philippines. He was supported by local soldiers as well as former officers in the Spanish army of the Philippines who were from the now independent nations of Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica. [193] The uprising was brutally suppressed but it foreshadowed the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution. [127] [194] [195] [196] However, Hispanic-Philippines reached its zenith when the Philippine-born Marcelo Azcárraga Palmero became a hero as he restored the Bourbon Dynasty of Spain to the throne during his stint as Lieutenant-General (Three Star General) after the Bourbons have been deposed by revolutionaries. He eventually became Prime Minister of the Spanish Empire and was awarded membership in the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is considered the most exclusive and prestigious order of chivalry in the world. [197]

Francisco Rizal Mercado Francisco r mercado.jpg
Francisco Rizal Mercado
Teodora Alonso Realonda Theodora alonzo quintos.jpg
Teodora Alonso Realonda

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three activist Catholic priests—Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza)—were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. [194] [195] This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion despite his opposition for violent revolution and only advocating peaceful reform, he even volunteered to work as a doctor for the Spanish side in the Cuban revolution. The Spanish ironically transformed ardent loyalists into radical rebels due to the Spanish killing of a hero opposed to a violent revolution. [198] As attempts at reform met with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the militant secret society called the Katipunan, who sought independence from Spain through armed revolt. [196]

Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. In 1898, the Spanish–American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established in the Barasoain Church in the following year. [127]

American rule

A depiction of the Battle of Paceo during the Philippine-American War. Battle of Paceo.jpg
A depiction of the Battle of Paceo during the Philippine–American War.

The islands were ceded by Spain to the United States alongside Puerto Rico and Guam as a result of the latter's victory in the Spanish–American War. [199] A compensation of US$20 million was paid to Spain according to the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris. [200] As it became increasingly clear the United States, the Philippine's only avowed ally which then subsequently betrayed the nation by dealing with Spain, would not recognize the nascent First Philippine Republic, the Philippine–American War broke out. Brigadier General James F. Smith arrived at Bacolod on March 4, 1899, as the Military Governor of the Sub-district of Negros, after receiving an invitation from Aniceto Lacson, president of the breakaway Cantonal Republic of Negros. [201] The war resulted in the deaths of a minimum of 200,000 and a maximum of 1 Million Filipino civilians, mostly due to famine and disease. [202]

After the defeat of the First Philippine Republic, the archipelago was administered under an American Insular Government. [30] The Americans then suppressed other rebellious sub-states: mainly, the waning Sultanate of Sulu, as well as the insurgent Tagalog Republic and the Republic of Zamboanga in Mindanao. [203] [204] During this era, a renaissance in Philippine culture occurred, with the expansion of Philippine cinema and literature. [205] [206] [207] Daniel Burnham built an architectural plan for Manila which would have transformed it into a modern city. [208] In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status with Manuel Quezon as president. He designated a national language and introduced women's suffrage and land reform. [209] [210]

Japanese rule

General Douglas MacArthur landing ashore during the Battle of Leyte on October 20, 1944. Douglas MacArthur lands Leyte1.jpg
General Douglas MacArthur landing ashore during the Battle of Leyte on October 20, 1944.

Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when the Japanese Empire invaded and the Second Philippine Republic of José P. Laurel was established as a collaborator state. Many atrocities and war crimes were committed during the war such as the Bataan Death March and the Manila massacre that culminated with the Battle of Manila. [211] In 1944, Quezon died in exile in the United States and Sergio Osmeña succeeded him. The Allied Forces then employed a strategy of island hopping towards the Philippine archipelago, in the process, retaking territory conquered by Imperial Japan.

From mid-1942 through mid-1944, the Filipino guerrilla resistance [212] [213] had been supplied and encouraged by U.S. Navy submarines and a few parachute drops, so that the guerrillas could harass the Japanese Army and take control of the rural areas, jungles and mountains— the guerrillas were so effective, the Japanese Empire only controlled 12 out of 48 provinces. [214] While remaining loyal to the United States, many Filipinos hoped and believed that liberation from the Japanese would bring them freedom and their already-promised independence.

Eventually, the largest naval battle in history, according to gross tonnage sunk, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, occurred when Allied forces started the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese Empire. [215] [216] Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1945. By the end of the war it is estimated that over a million Filipinos had died. [217] [218] [219]

Postcolonial period

Proclamation of Philippine independence from the United States (1946) Philippine Independence, July 4 1946.jpg
Proclamation of Philippine independence from the United States (1946)

On October 11, 1945, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the United Nations. [220] The following year, on July 4, 1946, the Philippines was officially recognized by the United States as an independent nation through the Treaty of Manila, during the presidency of Manuel Roxas. [8] Disgruntled remnants of the communist Hukbalahap [221] continued to roam the countryside but were put down by President Elpidio Quirino's successor Ramon Magsaysay. [222] [223] Magsaysay's successor, Carlos P. Garcia, initiated the Filipino First Policy, [224] which was continued by Diosdado Macapagal, with celebration of Independence Day moved from July 4 to June 12, the date of Emilio Aguinaldo's declaration, [225] [226] while furthering the claim on the eastern part of North Borneo. [227] [228]

In 1965, Macapagal lost the presidential election to Ferdinand Marcos. Early in his presidency, Marcos initiated numerous infrastructure projects but was accused of massive corruption and embezzling billions of dollars in public funds. [229] Nearing the end of his term, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. [230] This period of his rule was characterized by political repression, censorship, and human rights violations but the US were steadfast in their support. [231]

On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival, opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., was assassinated on the tarmac at Manila International Airport. Marcos eventually called snap presidential elections in 1986. [232] Marcos was proclaimed the winner, but the results were widely regarded as fraudulent. Cardinal Jaime Sin then roused the people to rebel, [233] leading to the People Power Revolution, "the revolution that surprised the world". [234] Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and Aquino's widow, the woman that inspired the armed men of the uprising, Corazon Aquino, was recognized as president. [232]

Contemporary history

Corazon Aquino, widow of the assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., takes the Oath of Office on February 25, 1986 Corazon Aquino inauguration.jpg
Corazon Aquino, widow of the assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., takes the Oath of Office on February 25, 1986

The return of democracy and government reforms beginning in 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, disasters, a persistent communist insurgency, [235] and a military conflict with Moro separatists. [236] During Corazon Aquino's administration, U.S. forces withdrew from the Philippines, due to the rejection of the U.S. Bases Extension Treaty, [237] [238] and leading to the official transfer of Clark Air Base in November 1991 and Subic Bay to the government in December 1992. [239] [240] The administration also faced a series of natural disasters, including the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991. [241] [242] After introducing a constitution that limited presidents to a single term, Aquino did not stand for re-election.

Aquino was succeeded by Fidel V. Ramos, who won the Philippine presidential election held in May 1992. During this period the country's economic performance remained modest, with a 3.6% [243] percent GDP growth rate. [244] However, the political stability and economic improvements, such as the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996, [245] were overshadowed by the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. [246] [247] On his Presidency the death penalty was revived in the light of the Rape-slay case of Eileen Sarmienta and Allan Gomez in 1993 and the first person to be executed was Leo Echegaray in 1999. [248]

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo is the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Pinatubo91eruption plume.jpg
The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo is the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

Ramos' successor, Joseph Estrada assumed office in June 1998 and managed to revive the economy from −0.6% growth to 3.4% by 1999 amidst the 1997 Asian financial crisis. [249] [250] [251] The government announced a war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 2000 and neutralized the camps including the headquarters of the insurgents. [252] [253] In the middle of ongoing conflict with the Abu Sayyaf, [254] accusations of alleged corruption, and a stalled impeachment process, Estrada's administration was overthrown by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and succeeded by his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on January 20, 2001. [255]

In Arroyo's 9-year administration, the economy experienced a phenomenal growth rate of 4-7%, averaging 5.33% from 2002 to 2007 with the completion of infrastructure projects like Line 2 in 2004 [256] and managed to avoid the Great Recession. [257] By comparison, the Philippines economy grew on average by 3.6% from 1965 to 2001 or 3.5% (1986-2001) if we include only those years when democracy had already been achieved. The improvement of the Philippine annual growth rate from her predecessors (since Marcos Regime to Estrada Administration) was around 1.7–1.87%. And this jump-start from a sluggish economy for almost 5 decades that left it behind by its neighbors in the 1960s would prove to be the Philippines rise from being the sick man of Asia to becoming one of the "Tiger Cub Economy" for the next decade after her administration. [243] Nevertheless, it was tied with graft and political scandals like the Hello Garci scandal pertaining to the alleged manipulation of votes in the 2004 presidential elections. [258] [259] [260] [261] On November 23, 2009, 34 journalists and several civilians were massacred in Maguindanao. [262] [263]

Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 national elections and served as the 15th President of the Philippines. The first major issue he dealt with was the 2010 Manila hostage crisis that caused deeply strained relations between Manila and Hong Kong for a time. The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on October 15, 2012, as the first step of the creation of an autonomous political entity named Bangsamoro. [264] However, a clash that took place in Mamasapano, Maguindanao killed 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and put the efforts to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law into law in an impasse. [265] [266] Tensions regarding the Philippines' territorial disputes in eastern Sabah and the South China Sea escalated. [267] [268] [269]

On May 15, 2013, the Philippines implemented the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, commonly known as K–12 program. It added two more years to the country's ten-year schooling system for primary and secondary education. [270] The country was then hit by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8, 2013, which heavily devastated the Visayas. [271] [272] When the United States President Barack Obama visited the Philippines on April 28, 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, was signed, paving the way for the return of United States Armed Forces bases into the country. [273] [274] [275] [276]

Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath as he is sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte oath taking 6.30.16.jpg
Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath as he is sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines

Former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte of PDP–Laban won the 2016 presidential election becoming the first president from Mindanao. [277] On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China's claims in the South China Sea. [278] After winning the Presidency, Duterte launched an intensified anti-drug campaign to fulfill a campaign promise of wiping out criminality in six months. [279] As of February 2019, the death toll for the Philippine Drug War is 5,176. [280] [281] [282] [283]

Duterte initiated the "Build, Build, Build" program in 2017 that aimed to usher the Philippines into a new "golden age" of infrastructure and was expected to create more jobs and business opportunities, which, in turn, would sustain the country's economic growth and accelerate poverty reduction. [284] The construction industry needs two million more workers to sustain the program. [285] [286]

The Build, Build, Build program is made up of 75 projects, which includes six air transport projects, 12 rail transport projects, and four water transport projects. It also includes four major flood management projects, 11 water supply and irrigation projects, four power projects, and three other public infrastructure projects. [287] The country is expected to spend $160 billion to $180 billion up to 2022 for the public investments in infrastructure. [288]

In 2017, Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides for free tuition and exemption from other fees in public universities and colleges for Filipino students, as well as subsidies for those enrolled in private higher education institutions. He also signed 20 new laws, including the Universal Health Care Act, the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, establishing a national cancer control program, and allowing subscribers to keep their mobile numbers for life. [289]


Malacanang Palace is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Malacanang Palace (Cropped).jpg
Malacañang Palace is the official residence of the President of the Philippines.

The Philippines has a democratic government in the form of a constitutional republic with a presidential system. [290] It is governed as a unitary state with the exception of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which is largely free from the national government. There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral, or parliamentary government since the Ramos administration. [291] [292]

The President functions as both head of state and head of government and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote for a single six-year term, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet. [293] The bicameral Congress is composed of the Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and the House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term. [293]

Senators are elected at large while the representatives are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation. [293] The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all of whom are appointed by the President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. [293]

Foreign relations

President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss matters during a bilateral meeting in Pasay, November 2017. Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte in Manila (6).jpg
President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss matters during a bilateral meeting in Pasay, November 2017.
The main office of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in Pasay. CALABARZONjf0200 20.JPG
The main office of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in Pasay.

The Philippines' international relations are based on trade with other nations and the well-being of the 10 million overseas Filipinos living outside the country. [294] As a founding and active member of the United Nations, the Philippines has been elected several times into the Security Council. Carlos P. Romulo was a former President of the United Nations General Assembly. The country is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor. [295] [296] [297]

In addition to membership in the United Nations, the Philippines is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), an organization designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among states in the Southeast Asian region. [298] It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc. [299]

The Philippines attaches great importance in its relations with China, and has established significant cooperation with the country. [300] [301] [302] [303] [304] [305] It supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror and was a major non-NATO ally, before the major fallback of relationship between the Philippines and United States in favor of China and Russia. [306] In addition, controversies related to the presence of the now former U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark and the current Visiting Forces Agreement have flared up from time to time. [294] [ failed verification ] Japan, the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country, [307] is thought of as a friend. Although historical tensions still exist on issues such as the plight of comfort women, much of the animosity inspired by memories of World War II has faded. [308]

Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain. [309] [310] [311] Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers, [312] [313] relations with Middle Eastern countries are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there. [314]

With communism no longer the threat it once was[ according to whom? ], once hostile relations in the 1950s between the Philippines and China have improved greatly. Issues involving Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, and concerns of expanding Chinese influence, however, still encourage a degree of caution. [308] Recent[ timeframe? ] foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors. [294] [ failed verification ]

The Philippines is an active member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, the Group of 24, and the Non-Aligned Movement. [293] It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. [315] [316]


NAVSOG at the SEACAT 2018 Exercise 004.jpg
BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).jpg
PAF FA-50 011.jpg
Soltam M-71 Howitzer - Oblique View @ 2018 Kalayaan Parade.jpg
Clockwise from top: Member of Philippine Special Forces conducting live fire training, Jose Rizal-class frigate of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Army Soltam M-71 and FA-50PH of the Philippine Air Force.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are responsible for national security and consist of three branches: the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Navy (includes the Marine Corps). [317] [318] [319] The Armed Forces of the Philippines are a volunteer force. [320] Civilian security is handled by the Philippine National Police under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). [321] [322]

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, is now engaging the government politically. Other more militant groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the communist New People's Army, and the Abu Sayyaf have previously kidnapped foreigners for ransom, particularly on the southern island of Mindanao. [324] [325] [326] [327] Their presence decreased due to successful security provided by the Philippine government. [328] [329] At 1.1 percent of GDP, the Philippines spent less on its military forces than the regional average. As of 2014 Malaysia and Thailand were estimated to spend 1.5%, China 2.1%, Vietnam 2.2% and South Korea 2.6%. [330] [331]

The Philippines was an ally of the United States from the World War II with a mutual defense treaty between the two countries signed in 1951. The Philippines once supported American policies during the Cold War and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars. However, the fallback of relationship between the two countries in favor of China and Russia resulted in the Philippines establishing deep defence ties and cooperation with the latter two, abandoning some military ties with the United States while affirming that the country will no longer participate in any US-led war. [332] [333] [334] [335]

Administrative divisions

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are further divided into 17 regions, 81 provinces, 145 cities, 1,489 municipalities, and 42,036 barangays. [336] In addition, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the definition of the territorial sea around the Philippine archipelago does not affect the claim over the eastern part of Sabah. [337] [338]

Nueva VizcayaNueva EcijaNorthern SamarNorthern SamarNorthern SamarNegros OrientalNegros OccidentalMountain ProvinceMisamis OrientalMisamis OccidentalMetro ManilaMasbateMasbateMasbateMarinduqueMaguindanaoLeyteLa UnionLanao del SurLanao del NorteLagunaKalingaIsabela CityIsabelaIloiloIloiloIloiloIlocos SurIlocos NorteIfugaoGuimarasEastern SamarEastern SamarDinagat IslandsDavao OrientalDavao OrientalDavao OccidentalDavao OccidentalDavao OccidentalDavao del SurDavao del NorteDavao del NorteDavao del NorteCotabato CityCotabatoDavao de Oro (Compostela Valley)CebuCebuCebuCebuCebuCebuCebuCaviteCatanduanesCapizCamarines SurCamarines SurCamarines SurCamarines NorteCamiguinCagayanCagayanCagayanCagayanCagayanCagayanCagayanBulacanBukidnonBoholBoholBoholBiliranBiliranBenguetBatangasBatangasBatangasBatangasBatanesBatanesBatanesBataanBasilanAuroraApayaoAntiqueAntiqueAntiqueAntiqueAlbayAlbayAlbayAlbayAklanAgusan del SurAgusan del NorteAbraZamboanga SibugayZamboanga del SurZamboanga del NorteZamboanga CityZamboanga CityZambalesSamarSamarSamarSamarTawi-TawiTawi-TawiTawi-TawiTawi-TawiTawi-TawiTawi-TawiTarlacSurigao del SurSurigao del SurSurigao del NorteSurigao del NorteSurigao del NorteSurigao del NorteSurigao del NorteSuluSuluSuluSuluSuluSuluSuluSuluSultan KudaratSouthern LeyteSouthern LeyteSouth CotabatoSorsogonSiquijorSaranganiSaranganiRomblonRomblonRomblonRomblonRomblonRomblonRizalRizalQuirinoQuezonQuezonQuezonQuezonQuezonQuezonQuezonPangasinanPangasinanPampangaPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanPalawanOriental MindoroOccidental MindoroOccidental MindoroOccidental MindoroOccidental MindoroMalaysiaMalaysiaMalaysiaMalaysiaMalaysiaMalaysiaCordillera Administrative Region (CAR)Ilocos Region (Region I)Cagayan Valley (Region II)Central Luzon (Region III)National Capital Region (NCR)CALABARZON (Region IV-A)MIMAROPA RegionBicol Region (Region V)Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)Central Visayas (Region VII)Western Visayas (Region VI)Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)Northern Mindanao (Region X)Caraga (Region XIII)Davao Region (Region XI)SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII)Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)Philippine SeaSulu SeaSouth China SeaCelebes SeaLake BuluanDupulisan BayPagadian BayMayo BayPujada BayMelgar BayTaguite BaySindangan BayPanguil BayDumanquilas BayDapa ChannelLake MainitPilar BayTolong BaySan Juanico StraitJanabatas ChannelOrmoc BayCarigara BayMaqueda BayCabugao BayLake BuhiLake BatoPanganiran BayLake NaujanMompog PassBagac BaySubic BayDingalan BayPalanan BayDivilacan BayDasol BayBangui BayGingoog BayBislig BayLianga BayLanuza BayBatanesLuzon Strait (Babuyan Islands)Baler BayCasiguran SoundMasbate PassTicao PassBurias PassSan Pedro BayBatangas BayBalayan BaySan Bernardino StraitSibutu PassageLanao LakeTaal LakeSarangani StraitSarangani BayBalintang ChannelBabuyan ChannelDinagat SoundSurigao StraitSogod BayCanigao ChannelCebu StraitMacajalar BayButuan BayIligan BaySorsogon BayAlbay GulfLagonoy GulfLamon BayTayabas BayTablas StraitLaguna de BayLinapacan StraitMindoro StraitCuyo East PassCuyo West PassGuimaras StraitIloilo StraitPanay GulfSamar SeaAsid GulfRagay GulfSan Miguel BayPolillo StraitLingayen GulfLeyte GulfBohol SeaBohol SeaBohol SeaBasilan StraitSibuguey BayIllana BayDavao GulfMoro GulfMaligay BaySulu SeaCamotes SeaCamotes SeaCamotes SeaCamotes SeaVisayan SeaVisayan SeaVisayan SeaVisayan SeaVisayan SeaVisayan SeaVerde Island PassageJintotolo ChannelManila BayManila BayManila BaySibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSibuyan SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaTañon StraitTañon StraitSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaCelebes SeaCelebes SeaCelebes SeaCelebes SeaCelebes SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaTañon StraitSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaSulu SeaCelebes SeaCelebes SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaPhilippine SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaSouth China SeaHonda BayCabalian BayPagapas BaySigayan BayBasiad BayMaribojoc BayTaytay BayCalavite PassageBalabac StraitPhilippines

Administrative regions

Regions in the Philippines are administrative divisions that serve primarily to organize the provinces of the country for administrative convenience. The Philippines is divided into 18 regions (17 administrative and 1 autonomous). Most government offices are established by region instead of individual provincial offices, usually (but not always) in the city designated as the regional center. As of 2015, CALABARZON was the most populated region while the National Capitol Region (NCR) the most densely populated.

RankDesignationNameAreaPopulation (as of 2015) [339] % of PopulationPopulation density
1stRegion IV Calabarzon 16,873.31 km2 (6,514.82 sq mi)14,414,77414.27%850/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
2ndNCR National Capital Region 619.57 km2 (239.22 sq mi)12,877,25312.75%21,000/km2 (54,000/sq mi)
3rdRegion III Central Luzon 22,014.63 km2 (8,499.90 sq mi)11,218,17711.11%510/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
4thRegion VII Central Visayas 10,102.16 km2 (3,900.47 sq mi)6,041,9035.98%600/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
5thRegion V Bicol Region 18,155.82 km2 (7,010.00 sq mi)5,796,9895.74%320/km2 (830/sq mi)
6thRegion I Ilocos Region 16,873.31 km2 (6,514.82 sq mi)5,026,1284.98%300/km2 (780/sq mi)
7thRegion XI Davao Region 20,357.42 km2 (7,860.04 sq mi)4,893,3184.85%240/km2 (620/sq mi)
8thRegion X Northern Mindanao 20,496.02 km2 (7,913.56 sq mi)4,689,3024.64%230/km2 (600/sq mi)
9thRegion XII SOCCSKSARGEN 22,513.30 km2 (8,692.43 sq mi)4,545,2764.50%200/km2 (520/sq mi)
10thRegion VI Western Visayas 12,828.97 km2 (4,953.29 sq mi)4,477,2474.43%350/km2 (910/sq mi)
11thRegion VIII Eastern Visayas 23,234.78 km2 (8,971.00 sq mi)4,440,1504.40%190/km2 (490/sq mi)
12thNIR Negros Island Region 13,425.4 km2 (5,183.6 sq mi)4,414,1314.37%330/km2 (850/sq mi)
13thBARMM Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao 36,650.95 km2 (14,151.01 sq mi)3,781,3873.74%100/km2 (260/sq mi)
14thRegion IX Zamboanga Peninsula 16,904.03 km2 (6,526.68 sq mi)3,629,7833.59%210/km2 (540/sq mi)
15thRegion II Cagayan Valley 29,836.88 km2 (11,520.08 sq mi)3,451,4103.42%120/km2 (310/sq mi)
16thMIMAROPA MIMAROPA 29,606.25 km2 (11,431.04 sq mi)2,963,3602.93%100/km2 (260/sq mi)
17thRegion XIII Caraga 21,120.56 km2 (8,154.69 sq mi)2,596,7092.57%120/km2 (310/sq mi)
18thCAR Cordillera Administrative Region 19,818.12 km2 (7,651.82 sq mi)1,722,0061.71%87/km2 (230/sq mi)


Topography of the Philippines Relief Map Of The Philippines.png
Topography of the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago composed of about 7,641 islands [340] with a total land area, including inland bodies of water, of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi). [6] [7] This makes it the 5th largest island country in the world. [24] The 36,289 kilometers (22,549 mi) of coastline makes it the country with the fifth longest coastline in the world. [293] [341] The Exclusive economic zone of the Philippines covers 2,263,816 km2 (874,064 sq mi). [342] It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N latitude and is bordered by the Philippine Sea [343] to the east, the South China Sea [344] to the west, and the Celebes Sea [345] to the south. The island of Borneo [346] is located a few hundred kilometers southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south-southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands. [293]

Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apo. It measures up to 2,954 meters (9,692 ft) above sea level and is located on the island of Mindanao. [347] [348] The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. The trench is located in the Philippine Sea. [349]

The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. [350] Manila Bay, upon the shore of which the capital city of Manila lies, is connected to Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, by the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf, and the Moro Gulf are other important bays. The San Juanico Strait separates the islands of Samar and Leyte but it is traversed by the San Juanico Bridge. [351]

Situated on the western fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The Benham Plateau to the east in the Philippine Sea is an undersea region active in tectonic subduction. [352] Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake. [353]

Mayon is the Philippines' most active volcano. Mt.Mayon tam3rd.jpg
Mayon is the Philippines' most active volcano.

There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. [354] Not all notable geographic features are so violent or destructive. A more serene legacy of the geological disturbances is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, the area represents a habitat for biodiversity conservation, the site also contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia. [355]

Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa giving credence to the talk that the Philippines was the Biblical Ophir [356] and the country also has one of the largest copper deposits in the world. [357] Palladium, originally discovered in South America, was found to have the world's largest deposits in the Philippines too. [358] [359] Romblon island also possesses the most diversified, high quality and hardest marble in the world and is available in at least 7 colors mainly: brown, grey, rust, white, green, black and orange. [360] The country is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. Despite this, poor management, high population density, a desire to protect indigenous communities from exploitation, and an extremely ardent environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped. [357] Thus, making the Philippines a potential global economic super-power due to having the largest deposits of several precious metals and minerals in the world, yet the country also simultaneously experiences extreme poverty and suffering by refusing to mine these precious metals [361] as the country also suffers from the side-effects of the unstable seismologic origin of these precious metals such as frequent volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides. [362] Geothermal energy is a product of volcanic activity that the Philippines has harnessed more successfully. The Philippines is the world's second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18% of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power. [363]


The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. [364] It is one of the ten most biologically megadiverse countries. [365] [366] [367]

Land vertebrates

Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), one of the smallest primates. Tarsius syrichta.jpg
Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), one of the smallest primates.

Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. [368] The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise. [369] Native mammals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, the cloud rat and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol.

Although the Philippines lacks large mammalian predators, it does have some very large reptiles such as pythons and cobras, together with gigantic saltwater crocodiles. The largest crocodile in captivity, known locally as Lolong, was captured in the southern island of Mindanao. [370] [371] The national bird, known as the Philippine eagle, has the longest body of any eagle; it generally measures 86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft) in length and weighs 4.7 to 8.0 kg (10.4 to 17.6 lb). [372] [373] The Philippine eagle is part of the Accipitridae family and is endemic to the rainforests of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

Rafflesia speciosa is endemic to the island of Panay. Rafflesia (R. speciosa) in Miagao.jpg
Rafflesia speciosa is endemic to the island of Panay.

Marine Life

Philippine maritime waters encompass as much as 2,200,000 square kilometers (849,425 sq mi) producing unique and diverse marine life, an important part of the Coral Triangle, a territory shared with other countries. [337] The total number of corals and marine fish species was estimated at 500 and 2,400 respectively. [364] [368] New records [374] [375] and species discoveries [376] [377] [378] continuously increase these numbers, underlining the uniqueness of the marine resources in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds. [364] [379] One rare species of oyster, Pinctada maxima which is indigenous to the Philippines, is unique since its pearls are naturally golden in color. [380] The golden pearl from the Pinctada maxima is considered the national gem of the Philippines. [381]


With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands, [368] Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia. [382] [383] Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the Philippines's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999. [384] Many species are endangered and scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the 21st century. [385] According to Conservation International, "the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation." [382]


Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, is one of the strongest typhoons that hit the Philippines. Haiyan Nov 7 2013 1345Z.png
Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, is one of the strongest typhoons that hit the Philippines.

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate that is usually hot and humid. There are three seasons: tag-init or tag-araw, the hot dry season or summer from March to May; tag-ulan, the rainy season from June to November; and tag-lamig, the cool dry season from December to February. The southwest monsoon (from May to October) is known as the Habagat, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April), the Amihan. [386] Temperatures usually range from 21 °C (70 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May. [293] [387]

The average yearly temperature is around 26.6 °C (79.9 °F). [386] In considering temperature, location in terms of latitude and longitude is not a significant factor. Whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country, temperatures at sea level tend to be in the same range. Altitude usually has more of an impact. The average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) above sea level is 18.3 °C (64.9 °F), making it a popular destination during hot summers. [386]

Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October, [388] with around nineteen typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year and eight or nine making landfall. [389] [390] [391] Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (200 in) in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters (39 in) in some of the sheltered valleys. [388] The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 1911 cyclone, which dropped over 1,168 millimeters (46.0 in) of rainfall within a 24-hour period in Baguio. [392] Bagyo is the local term for a tropical cyclone in the Philippines. [392] Natural hazards often cause lots of casualties in the Philippines. However, the government has lately been trying to manage and reduce disaster risks through innovative legislation. [393] [ failed verification ] The Philippines is highly exposed to climate change and is among the world's ten countries that are most vulnerable to climate change risks. [394] [395]


A proportional representation of the Philippines' exports, 2012. Philippines Export Treemap.png
A proportional representation of the Philippines' exports, 2012.

The Philippine economy is the 34th largest in the world, with an estimated 2018 gross domestic product (nominal) of $371.8 billion. [10] Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. [8] Major trading partners include the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Taiwan, and Thailand. [8] Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (₱ or PHP). [396]

Filipinos planting rice. Agriculture employs 30% of the Filipino workforce as of 2014
. 0123jfCalipahan Sicsican Rice Fields San Pascual Talavera Ecijafvf 04.JPG
Filipinos planting rice. Agriculture employs 30% of the Filipino workforce as of 2014.

A newly industrialized country, the Philippine economy has been transitioning from one based upon agriculture to an economy with more emphasis upon services and manufacturing. Of the country's total labor force of around 40.813 million, [8] the agricultural sector employs 30% of the labor force, and accounts for 14% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 14% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile, the 47% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56% of GDP. [398] [399]

The unemployment rate as of 14 December 2014, stands at 6.0%. [400] [401] Meanwhile, due to lower charges in basic necessities, the inflation rate eases to 3.7% in November. [402] Gross international reserves as of October 2013 are $83.201 billion. [403] The Debt-to-GDP ratio continues to decline to 38.1% as of March 2014 [404] [405] from a record high of 78% in 2004. [406] The country is a net importer [399] but it is also a creditor nation. [407]

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market. The extent it was affected initially was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth. [245] There have been signs of progress since. In 2004, the economy experienced 6.4% GDP growth and 7.1% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades. [408] [409] Average annual GDP growth per capita for the period 1966–2007 still stands at 1.45% in comparison to an average of 5.96% for the East Asia and the Pacific region as a whole. The daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than $2. [410] [411] [412]

The economy is heavily reliant upon remittances from overseas Filipinos, which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Remittances peaked in 2010 at 10.4% of the national GDP, and were 8.6% in 2012 and in 2014, Philippines total worth of foreign exchange remittances was US$28 billion. [413] [414] Regional development is uneven, with Luzon – Metro Manila in particular – gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, [415] [416] although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country. [399] [417] Tourism however is not nearly as successful an industry compared to other countries nearby due to the difficulty of travel across the fragmented geography of the archipelago. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is composed of eight sub-sectors, namely, knowledge process outsourcing and back offices, animation, call centers, software development, game development, engineering design, and medical transcription. The IT-BPO industry plays a major role in the country's growth and development. [418] In 2008, the Philippines was reported as having eclipsed India as the main center of BPO services in the world. [419]

Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the "Next Eleven" economies [420] [421] but China and India have emerged as major economic competitors. [422] Goldman Sachs estimates that by the year 2050, it will be the 20th largest economy in the world. [423] HSBC also projects the Philippine economy to become the 16th largest economy in the world, 5th largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the South East Asian region by 2050. [424] [425] [426] The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong, the Colombo Plan, the G-77 and the G-24 among other groups and institutions. [8]


Transportation infrastructure in the Philippines is relatively underdeveloped. This is partly due to mountainous terrain and the scattered geography of the islands, but also the result of consistently low investment in infrastructure by successive governments. In 2013, about 3% of national GDP went towards infrastructure development—much lower than many of its neighbors. [427] [428]

Air Transport

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines manages airports and implementation of policies regarding safe air travel [429] [430] with 85 public airports operational as of 2014. [431] Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) serves the Greater Manila Area together with Clark International Airport. Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest commercial airline still operating under its original name, and Cebu Pacific, the leading low-cost airline, are the major airlines serving most domestic and international destinations. [432] [433] [434]

Road transport

A section of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. Tarlac Expressway - panoramio (2).jpg
A section of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

There are 216,387 kilometers (134,457 mi) of roads in the Philippines, with only 61,093 kilometers (37,961 mi) of roads paved. [435]

Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns. In 2007, there were about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles with registrations increasing at an average annual rate of 4.55%. [436]

Expressways and highways are mostly located on the island of Luzon including the Pan-Philippine Highway, connecting the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, [437] [438] the North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway. [439] [440] [441] [442] [443] [444] The Cebu–Cordova Link Expressway in Cebu will be the first expressway outside Luzon, to be finished by 2021. [445]

Rail transport

A Line 2 train at Santolan station. MRT-2 Train Santolan 1.jpg
A Line 2 train at Santolan station.

Rail transport in the Philippines only plays a role in transporting passengers within Metro Manila, the province of Laguna, and some parts of the Bicol Region. Freight transport was almost non-existent. As of 2019, the country had a railway footprint of only 79 kilometers, which it had plans to expand up to 244 kilometers. [446] [447] Metro Manila is served by three rapid transit lines: Line 1, Line 2 and Line 3 [448] [449] [450] The PNR South Commuter Line transports passengers between Metro Manila and Laguna. Railway lines that are under-construction include the 4 km Line 2 East Extension Project (2020), the 22.8 km Line 7 (2020), the 25 km Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway) (2025), and the 109 km PNR North-South Commuter Railway which is divided into several phases, with partial operations to begin in 2022. [451] A multitude of other railway lines are planned.

In the past, railways served major parts of Luzon, and railroad services were available on the islands of Cebu and Negros. Railways were also used for agricultural purposes, especially in tobacco and sugar cane production. A few transportation systems are under development: DOST-MIRDC and UP are implementing pre-feasibility studies on Automated Guideway Transit. [452] [453] [454]

Water transport

A reconstructed sail-driven Visayan paraw, a type of bangka Balatik, a paraw from the Tao Expedition, Philippines.jpg
A reconstructed sail-driven Visayan paraw , a type of bangka

As an archipelago, inter-island travel using watercraft is often necessary. [455] This is traditionally done by small to medium-sized double-outrigger (trimaran) vessels, ranging from dugouts to plank-built vessels. Although highly diverse, they are collectively known as bangka (also baroto, baloto, or paraw ; archaic: balangay , sakayan, biray, biroko, etc.). Bangka were originally propelled by sails. Since the 1970s, however, the sails have almost completely been replaced by motor engines. These motorized bangka are usually referred to as "pump boats" in Philippine English. Other traditional Filipino boat types have mostly gone extinct or are in danger of disappearing, like the once abundant casco barges and guilalo cargo ships. But the bangka remain the most ubiquitous type of watercraft in the Philippines, even in modern times, due to their stability, speed, and ability to navigate even shallow coral reefs. [456] [457] [458] [459] [460]

The busiest seaports are Manila, Batangas, Subic, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga. [461] 2GO Travel and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns through passenger vessels. The 919-kilometer (571 mi) Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities was established in 2003. [462] The Pasig River Ferry Service serves the major rivers in Metro Manila, including the Pasig River and Marikina River having numerous stops in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Marikina. [463] [464]

Science and technology

An IRRI researcher studying rice DNA under ultraviolet light. Rice in the Lab.jpg
An IRRI researcher studying rice DNA under ultraviolet light.

The Philippines has pursued efforts to improve the field of science and technology. The Department of Science and Technology is the governing agency responsible for the development of coordination of science- and technology-related projects in the Philippines. [465] The National Scientist of the Philippines award is given to individuals who have contributed to different fields of science in the country.

Notable Filipino scientists include Maria Orosa, a food technologist famous for her formulated food products like calamansi nip, soyalac and the banana ketchup, [466] and Ramon Barba, a horticulturist known for his method to induce more flowers in mango trees. [467]

At least 51 World Intellectual Property Organization medals have been awarded to Filipino inventors. For example, inventor Magdalena Villaruz's agricultural invention, the turtle power tiller, won her the 1986 WIPO Inventor of the Year award and its use became widespread across the Philippines, Southeast Asia and Africa. [468]

In the field of medicine, notable figures include Fe del Mundo, a pediatrician whose pioneering work in pediatrics as an active medical practice spanned 8 decades, [469] and Paulo Campos, a physician who was dubbed as "The Father of Nuclear Medicine in the Philippines" for his contributions in the field of nuclear medicine. [470]

Research organizations include the International Rice Research Institute, an international independent research and training organization established in 1960 with headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, [471] [472] focusing on the development of new rice varieties and rice crop management techniques to help farmers in the country improve their lives. [473]


The Philippines bought its first satellite in 1996. [474] In 2016, the Philippines first micro-satellite, Diwata-1 was launched aboard the US Cygnus spacecraft. [475]

The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users. Text messaging is a popular form of communication and, in 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day. Over five million mobile phone users also use their phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks. [476] [477] [478] The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company commonly known as PLDT is the leading telecommunications provider. It is also the largest company in the country. [476] [479]

The National Telecommunications Commission is the agency responsible for the supervision, adjudication and control over all telecommunications services throughout the country. [480] There are approximately 383 AM and 659 FM radio stations and 297 television and 873 cable television stations. [481] On March 29, 1994, the country went live on the Internet via a 64 kbit/s connection from a router serviced by PLDT to a Sprint router in California. [482] Estimates for Internet penetration in the Philippines vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 24 million people. [483] [484] Social networking and watching videos are among the most frequent Internet activities. [485] The Philippine population is the world's top internet user. [486]


Limestone cliffs of El Nido, Palawan. Big lagoon entrance, Miniloc island - panoramio.jpg
Limestone cliffs of El Nido, Palawan.

The travel and tourism sector is a major contributor to the economy, contributing 7.1% to the Philippine GDP in 2013 [487] and providing 1,226,500 jobs or 3.2 percent of total employment. [488] 2,433,428 international visitors arrived from January to June 2014 up by 2.22% in the same period in 2013. South Korea, China, and Japan accounted for 58.78% while the Americas accounted for 19.28% and Europe 10.64%. [489] The Department of Tourism has responsibility for the management and promotion of the tourism sector.

The country's rich biodiversity is one of the main tourist attractions with its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots among the most popular tourist destinations. As an archipelago consisting of about 7,500 islands, the Philippines has numerous beaches, caves and other rock formations. Boracay has glaring white sand beaches and was named as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2012. [490] The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Magellan's Cross in Cebu and the Tubbataha Reef in Visayas are other highlights.

The Philippines is also one of the favorite retirement destinations for foreigners due to its warm climate all year round, beaches and low cost of living. [491]

Water supply and sanitation

Ambuklao Dam in Bokod, Benguet. Ambuklao Dam captured by Mitchell Yumul.jpeg
Ambuklao Dam in Bokod, Benguet.

Among the achievements of the government in the Philippines are a high access to an improved water source of 92% in 2010; the creation of financially sustainable water service providers ("Water Districts") in small and medium towns with the continuous long-term support of a national agency (the "Local Water Utilities Administration" LWUA); and the improvement of access, service quality and efficiency in Manila through two high-profile water concessions awarded in 1997. [492]

The challenges include limited access to sanitation services, high pollution of water resources, often poor drinking water quality and poor service quality, a fragmentation of executive functions at the national level among numerous agencies, and a fragmentation of service provision at the local level into many small service providers. [492]

In 2015 it was reported by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation by WHO and UNICEF that 74% of the population had access to improved sanitation and that "good progress" had been made. [493] The access to improved sanitation was reported to be similar for the urban and rural population. [493]


Population density per province as of 2009
per square kilometer. Philippines Population Density Map.svg
Population density per province as of 2009 per square kilometer.
Population [494] [495]

The population of the Philippines increased from 1990 to 2008 by approximately 28 million, a 45% growth in that time frame. [496] The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1877 and recorded a population of 5,567,685. [497]

It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. The 3.21% population growth rate between 1995 and 2000 decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005–2010 period, but remains a contentious issue. [498] [499] The population's median age is 22.7 years with 60.9% aged from 15 to 64 years old. [8] Life expectancy at birth is 69.4 years, 73.1 years for females and 65.9 years for males. [500] Poverty incidence also significantly dropped to 21.6% in 2015 from 25.2% in 2012. [501]

Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry has grown substantially. In 2007 there were an estimated [502] [503] 12 million Filipinos living overseas. [504]

According to the official count the population of the Philippines hit 100 million at the time of midnight on July 27, 2014, making it the 12th country to reach this number. [505]

The Philippine population will continue to increase throughout 2018 and is projected to reach around 107,190,081 by December 31, 2018, based on projections made by the Commission on Population using the latest population census of 2015 (Philippine Statistics Authority). [506]


Metro Manila is the most populous of the 3 defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 8th most populous in the world in 2018. Census data from 2015 showed it had a population of 12,877,253 comprising almost 13% of the national population. [507] Including suburbs in the adjacent provinces (Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal) of Greater Manila, the population is around 24,650,000. [507] [508] [509] Across the country, the Philippines has a total urbanization rate of 51.2 percent. [507]

Metro Manila's gross regional product was estimated as of 2009 to be 468.4 billion (at constant 1985 prices) and accounts for 33% of the nation's GDP. [510] In 2011 Manila ranked as the 28th wealthiest urban agglomeration in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia. [511]

Ethnic groups

Dominant ethnic groups by province Peoples of the Philippines en.svg
Dominant ethnic groups by province

According to the 2010 census, 24.4% of Filipinos are Tagalog, 11.4% Visayans/Bisaya (excluding Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray), 9.9% Cebuano, 8.8% Ilocano, 8.4% Hiligaynon, 6.8% Bikol, 4% Waray, and 26.2% as "others", [8] [512] which can be broken down further to yield more distinct non-tribal groups like the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Pangasinense, the Ibanag, and the Ivatan. [513] There are also indigenous peoples like the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Bajau, and the tribes of Palawan. [514]

Filipinos generally belong to several Asian ethnic groups classified linguistically as part of the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian speaking people. [514] It is believed that thousands of years ago Austronesian-speaking Taiwanese aborigines migrated to the Philippines from Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing, eventually displacing the earlier Negrito groups of the islands. [515] Negritos, such as the Aeta and the Ati, are considered among the earliest inhabitants of the islands. [516] These minority aboriginal settlers (Negritos) are an Australoid group and are a left-over from the first human migration out of Africa to Australia. However, the aboriginal people of the Philippines along with Papuans, Melanesians and Australian Aboriginals also hold sizable shared Denisovan admixture in their genomes. [517]

Being at the crossroads of the West and East, the Philippines is also home to migrants from places as diverse as China, Spain, Mexico, United States, India, South Korea, and Japan.

The Chinese are mostly the descendants of immigrants from Fujian in China after 1898, numbering around 2 million, although there are an estimated 27 percent of Filipinos who have partial Chinese ancestry, [518] [519] [520] stemming from precolonial and colonial Chinese migrants. [521] Intermarriage between the groups is evident in the major cities and urban areas. [522]

Furthermore, at least one-third of the population of Luzon, where Spaniards mixed with natives, as well as old settlements in the Visayas (founded by Mexicans) [523] and Zamboanga City (colonized by Peruvians) [524] or around 13.33% of the Philippine population, have partial Hispanic ancestry (from varying points of origin and ranging from Ibero-America [525] to Spain). [526] Recent genetic studies confirm this partial European [527] [528] and Hispanic-American ancestry. [529] The migrants from Peru and Mexico were not even homogeneous since they themselves were already racially admixed Mestizos or Mulattos [181] but there were also a few Native-Americans too. [530]

According to a Y-DNA compilation by the DNA company Applied Biosystems, they calculated an estimated 1% frequency of the South Asian Y-DNA "H1a" in the Philippines. [528] Thus translating to about 1 percent of Filipinos having significant Indian descent through the paternal line. These Indian-Filipinos were either descended from precolonial Indian adventurers who established Hindu kingdoms in the vicinity: the Rajahnates of Cebu and Butuan as well as Kutai in Borneo, [531] they may also come from colonial era Sepoy mercenaries [532] and modern traders. [528]

The Philippines was a