The Philippines is a Y-shaped archipelago south of China in Southeast Asia. Its 7,100 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). Because of its strategic location it has been a bridge between the East and West, a rampart of Christianity, and a showcase of democracy in Asia.
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 cheif 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 is the greatest gold-producing country in Southeast Asia, ranks third in chromite, and has one of the world's largest deposits of nickel, deuterium and copper.
It has the world's longest discontinuous 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.
Of the total population of 56 million, 93% are Catholics or Protestant Christians, followed by Islams and the Iglesia Ni Crito (a local sect). Thus, it is Asia's only predominantly Christian country.
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. Spaish and Chinese (Fukien and Cantonese) are also spoken by a minority. There are 55 regional languages and 142 dialects in the country. The Filipinos take pride in their education and literacy (at 90% the highest in Southeast Asia). Thier 50 colleges and universities attract tens of thousands of foreign students all over the world for courses in medicine, nursing, dentistry, etc.
The Philippines is a unique nation with four cultural heritages - Asian, European, Mexican, and American. No other nation in the world can claim to have such a varied and extensive experiencewith all four cultures. 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 thier 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. Although colonial writersslandered them as being lazy and stupid, Filipinos can work hard and adjust to any type of work. There are overseas Filipino working or living in the West Australia, the Middle East and more afluent Asian countries.