|Island groups||Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao|
|Total administrative divisions (as of 2015)|
|Area||300,000 km2 (115,830.65 sq. mi)|
|Coastline length||36,289 km (22,548.94 mi)|
|Density (2015)||337 per km2 (872 per sq. mi)|
|Currency||Peso (₱) (PHP)|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (Pacific Standard Time)|
The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, and also called the Pearl of the Orient Seas, is a country located in Southeast Asia. It consists of approximately 7,641 islands which puts the Philippines in second rank in Asia, next to Indonesia, and seventh in the whole world, as having the highest number of islands.
The islands are grouped into Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with Luzon island being the largest and Mindanao as the second largest island in the Philippines. Globally, the former is the 15th biggest island in the world while the latter is in the 19th rank. The combined land areas of Luzon and Mindanao account for slightly more than two-thirds (about 67.41%) of the total land area of the country. The national capital is Manila which is strategically situated more or less in the center of Luzon.
|Name||Area||Percent share in national land area|
|Luzon||104,687.32 km2 (40,420.00 sq mi)||34.90%|
|Mindanao||94,629.62 km2 (36,536.70 sq mi)||31.54%|
|Samar||13,079.96 km2 (5,050.20 sq mi)||4.36%|
|Negros||12,705.19 km2 (4,905.50 sq mi)||4.24%|
|Palawan||11,784.96 km2 (4,550.20 sq mi)||3.93%|
|Panay||11,515.09 km2 (4,446.00 sq mi)||3.84%|
|Mindoro||9,734.47 km2 (3,758.50 sq mi)||3.24%|
|Leyte||7,214.41 km2 (2,785.50 sq mi)||2.40%|
|Cebu||4,421.89 km2 (1,707.30 sq mi)||1.47%|
|Bohol||3,864.78 km2 (1,492.20 sq mi)||1.29%|
|Source: Wernstedt, Frederick L., and Joseph E. Spencer. The Philippine Island World: A Physical, Cultural, and Regional Geography. U of California P, 1967, p. 600.|
For a more comprehensive list of islands in the Philippines by area, see Lists of islands by approximate area.
A country completely enclosed by water bodies, the Philippines has endless supply of beaches. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Philippines has a total coastline of 36,289 kilometers or 22,548.94 miles. This places the country in the third rank among sovereign countries/states with the longest coastline in Asia, next to Indonesia and Russia, and fifth in the entire world.
The Philippine Islands are surrounded by four marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean. These are the Philippine Sea to the east, the South China Sea (also known as the West Philippine Sea) to the west, the Sulu Sea to the southeast, and the Celebes Sea to the south.
In these marine waterbodies lie the demarcation lines making the boundaries or outer limits of the maritime zones of the Philippines as determined and established by pertinent laws of the country and in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and continental shelf comprise the maritime zones of the Philippines.
Within the internal and archipelagic waters of the country can be found the smaller marginal seas, namely, the Bohol Sea, Samar Sea, Sibuyan Sea, Camotes Sea, and Visayan Sea. Though relatively shallower compared to the larger marginal seas, these minor seas are nonetheless deep enough and serve as vital channels for navigation.
In addition to the marginal seas, there are countless straits, channels, and inlets. These bodies of marine water separate neighboring islands and define their coastlines. As these waterbodies connect larger areas of the sea, they are extremely useful for transporting passengers, animals, and goods from one island to another. The numerous indentations along the coastline mark the existence of gulfs, bays, and coves. Where rivers reach the coast to drain into the sea, these are precisely the estuaries. A lagoon is another body of seawater that is ideal for such recreational purposes as swimming, bathing, and just enjoying the sea breeze, tropical sun, sand, and waves. All these various bodies of water are abundantly distributed around and within the entire Philippine archipelago and they dot the whole stretch of its long coastline.
Marginal Seas of the Pacific Ocean in the Philippines
- Philippine Sea
- South China Sea (West Philippine Sea)
- Sulu Sea (Jolo Sea)
- Celebes Sea
- Bohol Sea (Mindanao Sea)
- Camotes Sea
- Sibuyan Sea
- Visayan Sea
On account of the country's archipelagic nature and its extremely long coastline, greater proportions of its provinces, cities, and towns are coastal compared to landlocked ones. Out of the 81 provinces, 66 (or 81.48%) are coastal. Of the 15 landlocked provinces, 12 are in the island of Luzon, while three are in Mindanao. Among the cities, those along the coast, 88 (or 60.69%) far outnumber the landlocked ones (57). Majority of the municipalities, too, are coastal – a total of 812 (or 54.53%), while 677 are landlocked.
Besides having one of the longest coastlines in the world, the Philippines also has one of the deepest ocean trenches – the Philippine Trench, also known as the Philippine Deep, Mindanao Trench, or Mindanao Deep. Its deepest point, called Galathea Depth, is measured to be 10,540 meters or 34,580 feet below sea level. It is third in rank worldwide next to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench, and the Horizon Deep of the Tonga Trench – the first and second deepest points in the planet, respectively.
Due to its location close to the equator, the climate of the Philippines generally ranges from warm to hot most of the year with the exception of a few mountainous places having a cooler climate. The weather consists of the dry season and the wet or rainy season.
Highest mountains in the Philippines
Massive mountain ranges characterize the northern areas of Luzon, and the eastern and southern portions of Mindanao. Notable among these are the Cordillera, Caraballo, and Sierra Madre in Luzon, and the Kitanglad, Kalatungan, and Piapayungan ranges in Mindanao.
Despite the more accurate measurements provided by modern technologies, Mount Apo remains the highest mountain in the country. However, Mount Pulag in Luzon, which used to be second in rank, was downgraded to third place. Mount Dulang-Dulang, or "D2" as known among mountaineers, is now the second highest peak. Mount Dulang-Dulang and Mount Kitanglad, the fourth highest, as well as Mount Maagnaw, are parts of the Kitanglad Range in Bukidnon. Mount Piapayungan and Mount Ragang are the highest peaks in the Piapayungan Range.
|Mountain||Provincial location||Elevation (above sea level)|
|Mount Apo||between Davao City and Davao del Sur||9,689 feet (2,953.21 meters)|
|Mount Dulang-Dulang||Bukidnon||9,637 feet (2,937.36 meters)|
|Mount Pulag (Pulog)||between Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya||9,610 feet (2,929.13 meters)|
|Mount Kitanglad||Bukidnon||9,509 feet (2,898.34 meters)|
|Mount Tabayoc (Tabeyoc)||between Benguet and Ifugao||9,322 feet (2,841.35 meters)|
|Mount Piapayungan||Bukidnon||9,233 feet (2,814.22 meters)|
|Mount Maagnaw||Bukidnon||8,994 feet (2,741.37 meters)|
|Mount Timbac (Singakalsa)||Benguet||8,915 feet (2,717.29 meters)|
|Mount Amuyao||between Mountain Province and Ifugao||8,863 feet (2,701.44 meters)|
|Mount Kapiligan||Ifugao||8,758 feet (2,669.44 meters)|
|Source: Braganza, M. Earth Science. 2005 ed., Rex Bookstore, pp. 72-73.|
Cities and municipalities with highest estimated elevation above sea level
None of the cities comes close to Baguio City when it comes to its estimated elevation (by city or municipal center), and by association, its climate. Marawi City, the city with the second highest elevation is 716.10 meters (or 2,349.41 feet) above sea level as compared to Baguio's 1,445.30 meters (4,741.80 feet). And yet, five of the municipalities in the Cordillera Administrative Region (Atok and Buguias of Benguet, Barlig and Sagada of Mountain Province, and Tinoc of Ifugao) surpass Baguio City in terms of elevation, ranging from 1,483.40 meters (or 4,866.80 feet) to 2,294.50 meters (or 7,527.89 feet).
|City||Elevation (m)||Elevation (ft)|
|Marawi, Lanao del Sur||716.10||2,349.41|
|Canlaon, Negros Oriental||474.10||1,555.45|
|Municipality||Elevation (m)||Elevation (ft)|
|Barlig, Mountain Province||1,561.40||5,122.70|
|Sagada, Mountain Province||1,522.30||4,994.42|
|Besao, Mountain Province||1,393.80||4,572.83|
|Tadian, Mountain Province||1,325.60||4,349.08|
Volcanoes in the Philippines
Lying along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippine archipelago normally and regularly goes through seismic as well as volcanic tremors of varying intensity. There are over 400 volcanoes that dot the whole stretch of the Philippine map with the largest concentrations in the main islands of Luzon and Mindanao. Of these volcanoes, 24 are active, 27 are potentially active, and 360 are inactive, as classified by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
Ranked according to elevation, the 5 tallest volcanoes are Mount Apo at 2,594 masl folllowed by Mount Kalatungan at 2,824 masl, then Mount Ragang at 2,815 masl, Mount Canlaon at 2,465 masl, and Mount Balatukan at 2,450 masl.
As regards the number of recorded eruptions, the most active is Mayon Volcano with over 50 eruptions from the years 1616 to 2018. Taal Volcano comes next with 33 eruptions from 1572 to 2009. Mount Canlaon is reported to have erupted 28 times from 1886 up to 1996, while Mount Bulusan has already erupted more than 20 times from 1886 up to 2016.
|Volcano||Local/other names||Location||Elevation (m)||Status|
|Apo||Davao City and Davao del Sur||2,954||potentially active|
|Balut||Davao del Sur||862||potentially active|
|Banahaw||Banahao||Laguna and Quezon||2,169||active|
|Camiguin de Babuyanes||Cagayan||712||active|
|Cuernos de Negros||Magaso||Negros Oriental||1,860||potentially active|
|Labo||Camarines Sur||1,544||potentially active|
|Leonard Kniaseff||Compostela Valley||1,080||active|
|Mahagnao||Casiboy, Casiboi, Kasiboi||Leyte||860||potentially active|
|Makaturing||Macaturing||Lanao del Sur||1,908||active|
|Malinao||Albay and Camarines Sur||1,548||potentially active|
|Mandalagan||Negros Occidental||1,885||potentially active|
|Pinatubo||Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales||1,445||active|
|Ragang||Lanao del Sur and Cotabato||2,815||active|
|San Cristobal||Laguna and Quezon||1,470||potentially active|
|Silay||Negros Occidental||1,510||potentially active|
|Vulcan (Camiguin)||Camiguin||580||potentially active|
Surface water resources
Most of the principal bodies of freshwater such as the longest/largest river systems, largest/deepest lakes, and tallest waterfalls are found in Luzon and Mindanao. Most of the time, the mountain streams in these two islands serve as the source of headwaters of the rivers.
Cagayan River or Rio Grande de Cagayan is both the longest and largest river system followed by Mindanao River or Rio Grande de Mindanao and Agusan River. These grand rivers flow through some provinces before reaching the mouth and draining into the sea. Likewise, these rivers are fed by tributaries coming from neighboring provinces.
Cagayan River traverses the following provinces of Northern Luzon: Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino. Its major tributaries are the Magat River in Isabela, Chico River in Kalinga, Ilagan River in Isabela, and Siffu-Mallig River located in the Central Cordillera ranges. Its headwaters are in the Caraballo mountains.
Mindanao River is the second longest and second largest river basin. Its headwaters can be found in Impasugong mountains in Bukidnon. It passes through Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Cotabato before it drains into the Illana Bay. Its main tributaries are the Pulangi and Kabacan Rivers.
Agusan River is the third longest river and third largest river basin in the country. Its headwaters are in the mountains of Davao Oriental, then flows through Compostela Valley, the Agusan Marsh in Agusan del Sur, then Agusan del Norte. Its tributaries are the following: Adgaoan, Gibong, Haoan/Ihaoan, Kayonan/Umayam, Manat, Ojot, Simulao, Wawa, and other smaller rivers. (Source: Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Agusan River Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Project, vol. 1, Jan. 2011, p. 88, faspselib.denr.gov.ph/.)
Other Philippine rivers renowned for their length and/or size are Pulangi and Davao Rivers in Mindanao, along with those in Luzon, namely, Pampanga, Agno, Abra, Abulug, and Chico Rivers.
|River basin||Catchment area (km2)||River length (km)|
|Pasig-Laguna de Bay||4,678||78|
|Source: Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau. "National Water Quality Status Report; 2006-2013." water.emb.gov.ph/.|
For a more comprehensive list of rivers in the Philippines by region, see Lists of rivers by region.
Just like rivers, lakes are also valuable resources of freshwater. Laguna de Bay is the largest in the Philippines; its area measuring approximately 900 square kilometers. It is also designated as the second largest inland freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, next to Tonlé Sap in Cambodia. Lakes Lanao and Taal are next in rank, covering areas of 347 square kilometers and 234 square kilometers, respectively. Lake Mainit, located partly in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte, is not only the fourth largest lake, but also is recognized by experts as the deepest lake in the country. Other major lakes within the country are Naujan Lake in Oriental Mindoro, Lake Buluan in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao, Lake Bato in Camarines Sur, Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur, Lake Dapao in Lanao del Sur, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
|Laguna de Bay||900||Laguna, Rizal, and Metro Manila (NCR)|
|Lake Lanao||347||Lanao del Sur|
|Lake Mainit||140||Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte|
|Lake Naujan||110||Oriental Mindoro|
|Lake Buluan||65||Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao|
|Lake Bato||38||Camarines Sur|
|Lake Buhi||18||Camarines Sur|
|Lake Dapao||10||Lanao del Sur|
|Lake Sebu||9.64||South Cotabato|
For a more comprehensive list of lakes in the Philippines by region, see Lists of lakes by region.
Government and political administration
The Republic of the Philippines has a democratic system of government. The President is the head of the Executive branch, while the Senate and the House of Representatives occupy the Legislative branch. Finally, the Judiciary is made up of the Supreme Court and the lower courts. The Presidential Cabinet oversees the delivery of services such as education, health, infrastructure, social services, and others through the Regional offices, thus, the regional divisions.
On the other hand, the political and socio-economic governance of the Filipino people is basically done through the Local Government Units (LGUs), thus the provinces, cities, municipalities (also referred to as towns), and barangays. Each province is headed by the Governor, each city and town/municipality by the Mayor, and each barangay by the Punong Barangay or Barangay Captain.
List of regions
As of 2015, there are 17 regions in the Philippines.
|Region||Population (2015)||Regional center||Provinces||Total cities (HUC)||Total cities (ICC)||Total cities (CC)||Total mun||Total brgys|
|Ilocos Region (Region I)||5,026,128||San Fernando||0||1||8||116||3,265|
|Cagayan Valley (Region II)||3,451,410||Tuguegarao||0||1||3||89||2,311|
|Central Luzon (Region III)||11,218,177||San Fernando||2||0||12||116||3,102|
|CALABARZON (Region IV‑A)||14,414,774||Calamba||1||0||18||123||4,018|
|Bicol Region (Region V)||5,796,989||Legazpi||0||1||6||107||3,471|
|National Capital Region (NCR)||12,877,253||Manila||0||16||0||0||1||1,706|
|Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)||1,722,006||Baguio||1||0||1||75||1,176|
|Western Visayas (Region VI)||7,536,383||Iloilo City||2||0||14||117||4,051|
|Central Visayas (Region VII)||7,396,898||Cebu City||3||0||13||116||3,003|
|Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)||4,440,150||Tacloban||1||1||5||136||4,390|
|Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)||3,629,783||Pagadian||1||0||4||67||1,904|
|Northern Mindanao (Region X)||4,689,302||Cagayan de Oro||2||0||7||84||2,022|
|Davao Region (Region XI)||4,893,318||Davao City||1||0||5||43||1,162|
|SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII)||4,545,276||Koronadal||1||1||3||45||1,195|
|Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)||3,781,387||Cotabato City||0||0||2||116||2,490|
|Caraga (Region XIII)||2,596,709||Butuan||1||0||5||67||1,311|
The Philippines has a total area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,830.65 square miles). Its latest population count (2015 Census) is 100,979,303, with an average population growth rate computed at 1.72% from its previous population of 92,335,113 in 2010. The population density is 337 inhabitants per square kilometer or 872 per square mile.
The population of the Philippines grew from 27,087,685 in 1960 to 100,981,437 in 2015, an increase of 73,893,752 people. The latest census figures in 2015 denote a positive growth rate of 1.72%, or an increase of 8,643,585 people, from the previous population of 92,337,852 in 2010.
|Census date||Population||Growth rate|
|1903 Mar 2||7,635,426||–|
|1918 Dec 31||10,314,310||1.92%|
|1939 Jan 1||16,000,303||2.22%|
|1948 Oct 1||19,234,182||1.91%|
|1960 Feb 15||27,087,685||3.06%|
|1995 Sep 1||68,616,536||2.32%|
|2007 Aug 1||88,548,366||2.04%|
|2015 Aug 1||100,981,437||1.72%|
Population by age group
According to the 2015 Census, the age group with the highest population in is 5 to 9, with 10,842,920 individuals. Conversely, the age group with the lowest population is 80 and over, with 792,283 individuals.
The computed Age Dependency Ratios mean that among the population of the Philippines, there are 50 youth dependents to every 100 of the working age population; there are 7 aged/senior citizens to every 100 of the working population; and overall, there are 58 dependents (young and old-age) to every 100 of the working population.
The median age of 24 indicates that half of the entire population of the Philippines are aged less than 24 and the other half are over the age of 24.
|Age group||Population (2015)||Age group percentage|
|1 to 4||8,742,916||8.66%|
|5 to 9||10,842,920||10.74%|
|10 to 14||10,493,942||10.39%|
|15 to 19||10,191,185||10.09%|
|20 to 24||9,467,494||9.38%|
|25 to 29||8,360,447||8.28%|
|30 to 34||7,341,894||7.27%|
|35 to 39||6,742,687||6.68%|
|40 to 44||5,849,328||5.79%|
|45 to 49||5,284,325||5.23%|
|50 to 54||4,430,547||4.39%|
|55 to 59||3,606,834||3.57%|
|60 to 64||2,761,183||2.73%|
|65 to 69||1,916,125||1.90%|
|70 to 74||1,220,080||1.21%|
|75 to 79||859,098||0.85%|
|80 and over||792,283||0.78%|