The Philippines is an archipelago nation in Southeast Asia. It covers 299,764 sq km (115,831 sq mi) and comprises 7107 islands on the western Pacific Ocean. With about 92 million inhabitants (2011 estimate), the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. Its capital is Manila while its most populous city is Quezon City. Both Manila, Quezon City and over a dozen other Filipino cities are part of a metropolis known as Metro Manila.
Being an island nation, the Philippines is a country surrounded by bodies of water. Its immediate neighbours include Taiwan, across the Luzon Strait in the north, Malaysia, across the Sulu Sea to the southwest, and Indonesia, across the Celebes Sea to the south. The South China Sea separates the Philippines from Vietnam. To the east of the country is the Philippines Sea, which is contiguous with the Pacific Ocean.
The Philippines was a former colony of Spain, and the United States. It is one of two only predominant Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor. In addition to the Roman Catholics, there are also a number of minority religious groups, including various Christian denominations, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other beliefs. Multiple ethnicities, and cultures are found throughout the islands.
The Philippines derived its name from King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. It was called Las Islas Filipinas by Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos when he explored the islands of Leyte, and Samar.Although there were other names for the archipelago, the name Filipinas was eventually chosen. The official name, however, changed a few times throughout the course of its history.
Lake Kayangan in Coron Island, regarded as one of the cleanest lakes in the Philippines http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kayangan_Lake.jpg Michael Ocampo
During the Philippine Revolution, it was called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine-American War, until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the original Spanish name. The name "Philippines" began to be used during the American period and was adopted as its current official name.
The Philippines is eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+8). Traffic is driven on the right here, just as in the United States. The electricity of the country is 220V/60Hz. The phone IDD code for the Philippines is +63. The official currency is the Peso (PHP). Filipino (a language based on Tagalog) and English are the official languages.
The economy of the Philippines is transitioning from one based on agriculture to one based on services and manufacturing. It is one of the newly industrialized countries of Asia which includes China, India, Thailand and Malaysia. In 2010, the Philippines had an estimated nominal GDP of $188.719 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $2,007. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity stood at $3,737.
The skyline of Makati http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Makati_City#mediaviewer/File:Makati_skyline_j_0_n.jpg j_0_n
The Philippines experiences a tropical maritime climate. The temperature is quite uniform, hovering around 26.6°C (80°F) for much of the year, with January being slightly cooler and May slightly warmer. Differences in elevation creates a more distinct difference in temperature and climate, with the city of Baguio at 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level having an average temperature of 18.3°C (65°F). The rainy season in the Philippines is from June to November while the cool dry season is from December to February.
The Philippines is on the typhoon belt. It often experiences torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October. Within a year, there would be approximately nineteen storms of typhoons magnitude entering the Philippines. The country is also on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The Chocolate Hills have become the main tourist attraction on Bohol Island http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Chocolate_Hills#mediaviewer/File:Chocolate_Hills_(mendhak)_001.jpg mendhak, pixeltoo
Planning your trip to the Philippines
The main entry points for the Philippines are the international airports at Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark and Subic.
Arriving by Air in Manila
The majority of overseas visitors arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila. The airport has four terminals. Terminal 1 is used by non-Philippines Airlines and non-Cebu Pacific carriers. Terminal 2 is used by only Philippines Airlines. Terminal 3 serves both Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. The fourth terminal is the Manila Passenger Domestic Terminal used by the domestic airlines such as Zest Airways, Interisland Airlines and SEAIR.
If you arrive at Ninoy Aquino Airport, you can catch a taxi for around 150 to 200 peso to most of the hotels in Manila.
In addition to Ninoy Aquino Airport, you may also arrive at Clark Air Base (officially the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) in Angeles City. This airport is used by low-cost carriers such as Air Asia and Tiger Airways.
Arriving by Air in Cebu
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB) is the airport serving the island of Cebu. It is also the second busiest airport in the Philippines. Apart from Philippines Airlines, the other carriers flying to this airport include Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and SilkAir.
Planning your travel within the Philippines
In this section, I will only touch on getting around the Philippines as a whole. For Manila, I will describe within the Manila section.
As the Philippines is an archipelago, you will find that flying is the most practical way for you to explore the country. It is also by far the most comfortable and least time consuming.
While taking ferries and boats are cheaper than flying, be wary of overcrowding, which has often lead to sinkings. Do not board if the ferry appears over capacity.
Sights in and around Metro Manila
Laguna de Bay
Pagbilao Grande & Pagbilao Chico
Quezon National Park
San Jose Church, Las Piñas
Santiago de Apostol Church, Paete
Sights in Central Luzon
Minalungao National Park
Sights of Ilocos Region
Hundred Islands National Recreation Area
Ilocos Norte Province
Ilocos Sur Province
La Paz Sand Dunes
Manleluag Springs National Park
Sights of Northeast Luzon
Hanging Footbridge of Ambaguio
Iguig Calvary Hills
Palanan Wilderness Park
Rio Grande de Cagayan
Santa Victoria Caves
Sights of the Central Cordillera
Agamatan National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Balbalaasang National Park
Tinongchol Burial Rock
Sights in Bicol Peninsula
Bulusan Volcano National Park
Camarines Norte Province
Camarines Sur Province
Leaning Tower of Bombon
Sights on the Islands off Luzon
Mainit Hot Springs
Malbog Sulfur Springs
Mount Iglit-Baco National Park
North Pandan Island
Pungaw Hot Springs
Tres Reyes Islands
Cities and Sights of Eastern Visayas
Mahagnao National Park
Tong-onan Hot Springs National Park
Sights of Central Visayas
Cities and Sights of Western Visayas
Canlaon National Park
Miagao Fortress Church
San Jose de Buenavista
Sira-an Hot Springs
Cities and Sights of Palawan
Calauit National Wildlife Sanctuary
Maguinit Hot Springs
Ursula Island National Bird Sanctuary
Cities and Sights of Mindanao excluding Zamboanga
Bolon Sabak Bilaan Village
Cagayan de Oro City (CDO)
General Santos City (Gensan)
Lanao del Norte Province
Lanao del Sur Province
Misamis Oriental Province
Mount Puting Bato
Cities and Sights in Zamboanga and the Sulu Islands
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