The Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world with 7,107 islands and islets lying off the southwest coast of the Asian mainland between Taiwan and Borneo. It is bounded in the west by the South China Sea, in the east by the Pacific Ocean, in the south by the Sulu and Celebes Seas, and in the north by the Bashi Channel. Its strategic position finds the Philippines at the crossroads of international travel lanes.It has a total land area of 300,000 sq.km and a coastline of 34,000 km, the longest in the world.
The Philippines is normally warm with abundant rainfall and gentle winds. There are three pronounced seasons: wet to rainy from June to October; cool and dry weather from November to February; and hot and dry weather from March to May.
According to the latest official census, Filipinos now number 68 millions. Population growth as of 1991 is estimated at 2.7 percent annually and the number is expected to top the 75.2 millions by the Year 2000.
Filipinos are famous for their warm hospitality, friendliness to foreigners, musical and artistic talents, romanticism, deep religiosity, and bravery. They are also fond of music, fiestas, and politics.
There are 11 cultural and racial groups, each with its own language. Most Filipinos are bilingual, with English as the basic language in business, government, schools, and everyday communication. Pilipino, based primarily on the Tagalog language, is the national language; there are 11 languages and 87 dialects in the archipelago. Aside from English, Spanish is another foreign language spoken fluently by a number of Filipinos along with Arabic, Chinese, and Nippongo.
Roman Catholic is the predominant religion, comprising about 85 percent of the population. Muslims are concentrated at the southern end of the archipelago.