Environment in Philippines Essay

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The republic of the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands, approximately 700 of which are inhabited. Its total land area is approximately 300,000 square kilometers (116,600 square miles). The islands are usually divided into three groups, from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon has the two largest cities, Quezon City with 2.2 million inhabitants, and Manila (the nation’s capital) with 1.6 million people. Both are part of Metropolitan Manila (or the National Capital Region), a large conurbation of 636 square kilometers with 12 million people (a density of 17,751 people per square kilometer). Total population is about 85 million, roughly two thirds of whom reside on the island of Luzon. Population growth is about 1.8 percent per year, with 24.89 births per 1,000 people (2006 estimate).

Since independence on July 4, 1946, the Philippines have experienced economic and political instability. Ferdinand Marcos was elected in 1965, but subsequently extended his power and tenure illegally. In 1986 the People Power Revolution overthrew Marcos, and Corazon Aquino (widow of murdered Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.) assumed power. Since then, government corruption, ongoing civil unrest, and Muslim separatist movements have continued to hamper the economic and political life of successive democratically elected governments. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo succeeded Joseph Estrada, who resigned following massive street protests after allegations of government corruption and cronyism.

Total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $91.36 billion ($451.3 billion, or $5,100 per capita PPP, 2005 estimate). In 2005 agriculture accounted for 14.8 percent of total GDP, industry 31.7 percent, and services 53.5 percent; 36 percent of the labor force work in agriculture, 16 percent in industry (particularly labor intensive industries including garments and footwear), and 48 percent in services. Forty percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The Philippines suffered less from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis than its neighbors, partly because of remittances from its workers overseas. Over eight million Filipinos live overseas, and the remittances they send back ($12 billion a year) are a very important contribution to the national economy. Since 2002 economic growth has been quite consistent at about five percent per year.

Over 170 languages are spoken in the country, most of them belonging to the western MalayoPolynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. The 1987 constitution gave Filipino and English the status of official languages. About 92 percent of Filipinos are Christians (81 percent Roman Catholic), and about five percent are Muslims who predominantly live on the island of Mindanao and in the Sulu archipelago.

The archipelago lies on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and is of volcanic origin. There are frequent seismic and volcanic activities, and many active volcanoes, such as Mayon Volcano (a stratovolcano that has erupted around 50 times over the past 400 years), Mount Pinatubo (which erupted in June 1991 after 500 years of dormancy), and Taal Volcano. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 meters. The climate is tropical marine with a northeast monsoon from November to April and a southwest monsoon from May to October. The Philippines have relatively high temperatures (mean annual temperature is 26.6 degrees C), high humidity (between 71 percent in March and 85 percent in September), and abundant rainfall (mean annual rainfall varies from 965 to 4,064 millimeters). Five or six cyclonic storms strike the Philippines each year.


  1. P.N. Amoroso and D.J. Abinales, State and Society in the Philippines (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, , 2005);
  2. M. Balisacan and H. Hill, eds., The Philippine Economy: Development, Policies, and Challenges (Oxford University Press, 2003);
  3. E.L. Hedman and T. Sidel, eds., Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, PostColonial Trajectories (Routledge, 2000).

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