The Philippines is a Y-shaped archipelago south of China in Southeast Asia. Its 7,107 islands have a total land area of 300,000 sq. km. It was the first republic in Asia (1898), the first to be decolonized partially by a Western colonial country (1935), and the first in Southeast Asia to be granted full independence after the Second World War (1946).
Named after Philip II of Spain, the Philippines is a beautiful country and has been called “Pearl of the Orient”. With a fertile soil, healthy climate, rich and natural resources and fishing grounds, it is poised on the brink of an agri-business and aquaculture revolution. The chief agricultural products are rice, coconut, corn, hemp, tobacco, sugarcane and tropical fruits. It ranks first in world production of coconut oil, second in sugarcane, and fifth in tobacco. It ranks third in chromites, and has one of the world’s largest deposits of nickel, deuterium and copper.
It has the world’s longest irregular coastline (34,000 km.). Its forest provide one of Asia’s best supplies of timber and forest products, but forest resources have been seriously damaged by slash-and-burn farming, illegal logging, and poor management in the past.
The Filipinos are a racial mixture due to their reception of different cultures in history. Intermarriages are common, and the majority of the people have mixed blood. Aboriginal tribes populate the mountain Interiors. Most Filipinos belong to the Malay race, with a tawny complexion, black hair and black eyes.
The National Language (Filipino) has become dominant, although English is still widely-used in education, commerce and communication. The Philippines has the world’s third largest English-speaking country. Spanish and Chinese (Fukien and Cantonese) are also spoken by a minority. There are 55 regional languages and 142 dialects in the country. Filipino literacy is considered one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines is a unique nation with four cultural heritages – Asian, European, Mexican, and American. Thus, it is not unusual for the Filipinos to look Oriental, have a Spanish-sounding name, speak like English with an American accent and have a Latin temperament.
Filipinos are famous for their warm hospitality, friendliness to foreigners, musical and artistic talents, romanticism, deep religiosity and bravery. They are fond of music, fiestas, and politics. They have the resiliency of the bamboo and the durability of narra, its national tree. When wars and calamities come, they bend but not to break.