Philippines

Summary data
Map of the Philippines showing its island groups
Island groupsLuzon, Visayas, Mindanao
Total administrative divisions (as of 2015)
Regions17
Provinces81
Cities145
Municipalities1,489
Barangays42,036
Area300,000 km2 (115,830.65 sq. mi)
Coastline length36,289 km (22,548.94 mi)
Population (2015)100,979,303
Density (2015)337 per km2 (872 per sq. mi)
CurrencyPeso (₱) (PHP)
Time zoneUTC+8 (Pacific Standard Time)
Calling code+63

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.

Geography

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.

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List of the largest islands in the Philippines
Name Area Percent share in national land area
Luzon104,687.32 km2 (40,420.00 sq mi)34.90%
Mindanao94,629.62 km2 (36,536.70 sq mi)31.54%
Samar13,079.96 km2 (5,050.20 sq mi)4.36%
Negros12,705.19 km2 (4,905.50 sq mi)4.24%
Palawan11,784.96 km2 (4,550.20 sq mi)3.93%
Panay11,515.09 km2 (4,446.00 sq mi)3.84%
Mindoro9,734.47 km2 (3,758.50 sq mi)3.24%
Leyte7,214.41 km2 (2,785.50 sq mi)2.40%
Cebu4,421.89 km2 (1,707.30 sq mi)1.47%
Bohol3,864.78 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.

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 the Philippine Sea (which is part of the great Pacific Ocean) 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. Besides these large bodies of water – called the larger marginal seas – marking the boundaries of the Philippine territory, there are a number of minor bodies of salt water within the archipelago which are the smaller marginal seas. These are:

  1. Bohol Sea
  2. Camotes Sea
  3. Samar Sea
  4. Sibuyan Sea
  5. Visayan Sea

There are several straits (Luzon Strait, Mindoro Strait, Tablas Strait, Polillo Strait, Cebu Strait, Guimaras Strait, Iloilo Strait, Linapacan Strait, San Bernardino Strait, San Juanico Strait, Surigao Strait, Tañon Strait, Tapiantana Channel, Ticao Pass, Verde Island Passage, Burias Pass, Babuyan Channel, Balintang Channel, Canigao Channel, Jintotolo Channel), gulfs (Moro Gulf, Albay Gulf, Ragay Gulf, Lingayen Gulf, Davao Gulf, Asid Gulf, Lagonoy Gulf, Leyte Gulf, Panay Gulf); estuaries, lagoons, as well as numerous bays and coves that dot the whole stretch of the long Philippine coastline.

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.

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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.

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Highest mountains in the Philippines
Mountain Provincial location Elevation (above sea level)
Mount Apobetween Davao City and Davao del Sur9,689 feet (2,953.21 meters)
Mount Dulang-DulangBukidnon9,637 feet (2,937.36 meters)
Mount Pulag (Pulog)between Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya9,610 feet (2,929.13 meters)
Mount KitangladBukidnon9,509 feet (2,898.34 meters)
Mount Tabayoc (Tabeyoc)between Benguet and Ifugao9,322 feet (2,841.35 meters)
Mount PiapayunganBukidnon9,233 feet (2,814.22 meters)
Mount MaagnawBukidnon8,994 feet (2,741.37 meters)
Mount Timbac (Singakalsa)Benguet8,915 feet (2,717.29 meters)
Mount Amuyaobetween Mountain Province and Ifugao8,863 feet (2,701.44 meters)
Mount KapiliganIfugao8,758 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).

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Cities with highest estimated elevation
City Elevation (m) Elevation (ft)
Baguio1,445.304,741.80
Marawi, Lanao del Sur716.102,349.41
Malaybalay, Bukidnon621.902,040.35
Tagaytay, Cavite559.701,836.29
Canlaon, Negros Oriental474.101,555.45
Valencia, Bukidnon324.901,065.94
Lipa, Batangas318.201,043.96
Kidapawan, Cotabato284.30932.74
Tayabas, Quezon198.70651.90
Antipolo, Rizal197.20646.98
Municipalities with highest estimated elevation
Municipality Elevation (m) Elevation (ft)
Atok, Benguet2,294.507,527.89
Buguias, Benguet1,807.305,929.46
Barlig, Mountain Province1,561.405,122.70
Sagada, Mountain Province1,522.304,994.42
Tinoc, Ifugao1,483.404,866.80
Tublay, Benguet1,403.004,603.02
Besao, Mountain Province1,393.804,572.83
Tuba, Benguet1,337.104,386.81
Tadian, Mountain Province1,325.604,349.08
Mankayan, Benguet1,320.004,330.71

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.

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Active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines
Volcano Local/other names Location Elevation (m) Status
Apo Davao City and Davao del Sur 2,954 potentially active
Babuyan Claro Pangasun Cagayan 843 active
Balut Davao del Sur 862 potentially active
Banahaw Banahao Laguna and Quezon 2,169 active
Biliran (Anas) Leyte 1,340 active
Bud Dajo Sulu 620 active
Bulusan Sorsogon 1,565 active
Cabalian Southern Leyte 945 active
Cagua Cagayan 1,160 active
Camiguin de Babuyanes Cagayan 712 active
Cancajanag Leyte 900 potentially active
Corregidor Bataan 173 potentially active
Cuernos de Negros Magaso Negros Oriental 1,860 potentially active
Dakut Sulu 474 potentially active
Didicas Cagayan 228 active
Gorra Sulu 496 potentially active
Hibok-Hibok Catarman Camiguin 1,332 active
Iraya Batanes 1,009 active
Iriga Camarines Sur 1,143 active
Isarog Camarines Sur 1,966 active
Kalatungan Calatungan Bukidnon 2,824 potentially active
Kanlaon Canlaon Negros Occidental 2,435 active
Labo Camarines Sur 1,544 potentially active
Lapac Lapak Sulu 357 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
Malindig Marlanga Marinduque 1,157 potentially active
Mandalagan Negros Occidental 1,885 potentially active
Maripipi Biliran 924 potentially active
Mariveles Bataan 1,388 potentially active
Matutum South Cotabato 2,286 active
Mayon Albay 2,460 active
Musuan Calayo Bukidnon 646 active
Natib Bataan 1,253 potentially active
Negron Zambales 1,583 potentially active
Parang Sulu 422 potentially active
Parangan Sulu 389 potentially active
Parker Melibengoy South Cotabato 1,784 active
Pinatubo Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales 1,445 active
Pitogo Sulu 392 potentially 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
Sinumaan Sulu 785 potentially active
Smith Cagayan 688 active
Taal Batangas 311 active
Tukay Sulu 609 potentially active
Tumatangas Sulu 811 potentially active
Vulcan (Camiguin) Camiguin 580 potentially active
Sources:
  • "PHIVOLCS: Philippines Volcanoes Potentially and Active, Inactive." PHIVOLCS: PHIVOLCS-LAVA or Local Active Volcanoes Archive, https://wovodat.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/volcano/ph-volcanoes, wovodat.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/volcano/ph-volcanoes.
  • Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program: Worldwide Holocene Volcano and Eruption Information, Smithsonian Institution, volcano.si.edu/.
  • "East Asia/Southeast Asia :: Philippines — The World Factbook." Central Intelligence Agency, https://web.archive.org/web/20181214131022/https://www.cia.gov/Library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2060.html.
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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.

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Major river basins in the Philippines
River basin Catchment area (km2) River length (km)
Cagayan25,649505
Mindanao23,169373
Agusan10,921350
Pampanga9,759260
Agno5,952206
Abra5,125178
Pasig-Laguna de Bay4,67878
Bicol3,771136
Abulug3,372175
Tagum-Libuganon3,06489
Ilog-Hilabangan1,945124
Panay1,843132
Agus1,89036
Tagoloan1,704106
Davao1,623150
Source: Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau. "National Water Quality Status Report; 2006-2013." water.emb.gov.ph/.

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.

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Major lakes of the Philippines
Lake Area (km2) Location
Laguna de Bay 900 Laguna, Rizal, and Metro Manila (NCR)
Lake Lanao 347 Lanao del Sur
Lake Taal 234 Batangas
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
Sources:
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau. "National Water Quality Status Report; 2006-2013." water.emb.gov.ph/.
  • "Table 14. Ten Major Lakes of the Philippines." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, www.fao.org/3/w6928e0o.htm. fao.org citing Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (1995a)
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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.

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RegionPopulation (2015)Regional centerProvincesTotal cities (HUC)Total cities (ICC)Total cities (CC)Total munTotal brgys
Ilocos Region (Region I)5,026,128San Fernando
4
0181163,265
Cagayan Valley (Region II)3,451,410Tuguegarao
5
013892,311
Central Luzon (Region III)11,218,177San Fernando
7
20121163,102
CALABARZON (Region IV‑A)14,414,774Calamba
5
10181234,018
Bicol Region (Region V)5,796,989Legazpi
6
0161073,471
National Capital Region (NCR)12,877,253Manila0160011,706
Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)1,722,006Baguio
6
101751,176
MIMAROPA Region2,963,360Calapan
5
101711,459
Western Visayas (Region VI)7,536,383Iloilo City
6
20141174,051
Central Visayas (Region VII)7,396,898Cebu City
4
30131163,003
Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)4,440,150Tacloban
6
1151364,390
Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)3,629,783Pagadian
3
104671,904
Northern Mindanao (Region X)4,689,302Cagayan de Oro
5
207842,022
Davao Region (Region XI)4,893,318Davao City
5
105431,162
SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII)4,545,276Koronadal
4
113451,195
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)3,781,387Cotabato City
5
0021162,490
Caraga (Region XIII)2,596,709Butuan
5
105671,311
Philippines Total100,979,303813351071,48942,036
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Demography

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.

Historical population

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.

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Census datePopulationGrowth rate
1903 Mar 27,635,426
1918 Dec 3110,314,3101.92%
1939 Jan 116,000,3032.22%
1948 Oct 119,234,1821.91%
1960 Feb 1527,087,6853.06%
36,684,4863.01%
42,070,6602.79%
48,098,4602.71%
60,703,8102.36%
1995 Sep 168,616,5362.32%
76,506,9282.36%
2007 Aug 188,548,3662.04%
92,337,8521.54%
2015 Aug 1100,981,4371.72%

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.

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Age groupPopulation (2015)Age group percentage
Under 12,076,0152.06%
1 to 48,742,9168.66%
5 to 910,842,92010.74%
10 to 1410,493,94210.39%
15 to 1910,191,18510.09%
20 to 249,467,4949.38%
25 to 298,360,4478.28%
30 to 347,341,8947.27%
35 to 396,742,6876.68%
40 to 445,849,3285.79%
45 to 495,284,3255.23%
50 to 544,430,5474.39%
55 to 593,606,8343.57%
60 to 642,761,1832.73%
65 to 691,916,1251.90%
70 to 741,220,0801.21%
75 to 79859,0980.85%
80 and over792,2830.78%
Total100,979,303100.00%
  • Youth Dependency Ratio: 50.22
  • Old Age Dependency Ratio: 7.48
  • Total Dependency Ratio: 57.7
  • Median Age: 24.09

Sources

  1. Data on population and land area are derived from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
  2. Maps utilize OpenStreetMap data available under the Open Data Commons Open Database License.
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