Philippines is an archipelago of over seven thousand islands, out of which only 800 are inhabited. They are sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, and the nearest neighbours are Taiwan towards the north and Borneo towards the southwest. About 93% of the islands are less than one square mile, and only one-third of them even have names. The islands are the result of volcanic eruptions, and many are active. Earthquakes are normal phenomena. Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are the largest islands, accounting for 66% of the country’s land area.
Philippines was colonized by the Spanish and governed from Mexico, hence there is a major Spanish and Mexican presence in Filipino culture. Many of the towns and province names are in Spanish. Huge brick churches constructed in colonial times can be seen overpowering many towns.
Plain steamed rice is the main staple food, along with fish and shellfish which are eaten on a daily basis. Fish, pork and chicken are normally fried, and garlic is used freely as it considered to be a healthy ingredient. Traditional eating method involves putting food on a banana leaf and eating it with your hands.
Philippines has a tropical and monsoonal climate. The warmest month is May and coolest is January. The average yearly temperature is 26.5°C (79.7°F). The months of May to October bring monsoon rains along with typhoons. On the average six to seven typhoons hit Philippines a year.
Area: 300,000 square km (115,831 square miles)
Language: Filipino, and English
Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist
Currency: Philippine peso