Basic Country Facts

The Philippines is an archipelago nation of more than 7,100 islands, with a coastline that stretches 10,850 miles — twice the length of the coastline of California. The islands are mountainous and in total have a land area of 115,831 square miles.

The country lies off the southeast coast of the Asian mainland between Borneo and Taiwan. It is surrounded 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.

The islands are divided into three major regions: Luzon, the largest island in the north; the Visayas, an island group in the center; and Mindanao, the largest island in the south. Many Filipina girls are named Luzviminda (LUZ-on, VI-sayas, MIN-danao) by their parents. It's a uniquely Filipino name.

These geographical regions have distinct political, social, and cultural differences, The capital is Manila, a busy port in Luzon. Other important cities are Cebu, in the Visayas; Davao, Cotobato, and Zamboanga, in Mindanao; and Jolo, in the Sulu archipelago of Mindanao.

Filipinos enjoy a climate that is is always tropical and warm because of the islands' location, 5 to 20 degrees north of the equator. There are two main seasons: the dry season is from March to June, and the monsoon season is from July to October. The intervening months of November to February are still relatively warm with a soothing sea breeze.

The Philippines consists of volcanic islands, including active volcanoes, with mostly mountainous interiors surrounded by flat lowlands and alluvial plains of varying widths along the coasts. The elevation ranges from sea level to the highest point of Mount Apo on Mindanao Island, at 2,954 meters above sea level.

The longest river is the Cagayan on Luzon, about 350 kilometers in length. Other principal rivers on Luzon include the Abra, Bicol, Chico, and Pampanga. The Pasig River is only about 25 kilometers in length but serves as the main waterway, flowing between Laguna de Bay, the largest freshwater lake in the Philippines, through metropolitan Manila to Manila Bay. Principal rivers on Mindanao include the Mindanao River (known as the Pulangi River in its upper reaches), and the Agusan. The St. Paul River on Palawan is an eight-kilometer-long underground river.