A Mini-Guide to the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines is in Southeast Asia, in the western Pacific Ocean. The country is an archipelago, with 7,107 beautiful islands. North of the Philippines is the Luzon Strait and across it is Taiwan; on the east is the Philippines Sea; the Celebes Sea lies south of the country and separates it from the island of Borneo; Vietnam lies west of the Philippines across the South China Sea. It lies between 116° 40′ and 126° 34′ E longitude, and 4° 40′ and 21° 10′ N. latitude. It is a small country, roughly the size of Arizona with a total area of 300,000 sq. km. and a population of 94.6 million. Inhabitants of the country are called Filipinos and the national language is Tagalog.

There are three major islands: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Luzon is the biggest island with a land area of 299,764 sq km.

The Philippines has a rich and diverse culture. In prehistoric times, the Negritos and Austronesians inhabited the islands, bringing with them Malay, Hindu and Islamic influences. Trading among the early inhabitants and the Chinese paved the way for further cultural intermingling. In 1521, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan headed a Spanish expedition composed of several galleons which eventually landed in the islands. He named the islands after King Philip II of Spain. Spain ruled over the Philippines for more than 300 years. The natives launched many revolts against the invading Spaniards, who ceded the islands to the Americans for $ 20 million. The Americans briefly governed the Philippines amidst numerous revolts from Filipino nationalist movements. In 1942, the Japanese invaded and occupied the country. Again, the Filipinos fought the foreign invaders.

Following the defeat of the Japanese in World War II, the Americans granted the Philippines its 1946. However, the country officially celebrates Independence Day on June 12, to commemorate the day when Filipinos declared independence from the Spaniards.

Language

Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines but English is spoken everywhere. The country is the third largest English-speaking country in the world.

Climate and Weather

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate. There are three seasons: March, April and May are the summer months and the weather is hot and dry. Monsoon rains and typhoons come during the rainy season which lasts from June to October. November to February is the period known as the cool and dry season. This is the best time to visit the country as there are usually no rains and the weather is comfortably cool.

Filipino Cuisine

The rich historical diversity is reflected in the culture, language, cuisine and traditions of the Filipino people. Many Filipino foods have dashes of Spanish, Chinese and American influences. Rice is a staple food for lunch and dinner. Filipinos have a passion for eating and part of the famous Filipino hospitality is feeding anyone who comes to visit one’s home.

Festivals and Parades

The Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia. Three hundred years under Spanish rule has had a big influence in the festivities in the Philippines. The Spaniards introduced Catholicism to the country and today, majority of Filipinos are Catholics. It is the largest Christian country in Asia.


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