Country Profile: Philippines
Other citiesQuezon city (largest city), Caloocan, Davao city, Cebu city, Zamboanga city, Antipolo
Official languagesFilipino, English
Other recognised languagesBikol, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray-Waray
Area300, 000 km sq
Population90.5 million (2008 est.)
The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands in low tide and a bit less in high tide (as one of the famous Filipino joke boasts). There are three main regions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that each boasts unique traditions, cultures, and culinary delights (that never cease to amaze even the pickiest business traveler).
At the moment Manila, in the Luzon region, is the capital of the Philippines. Depending on who is in power, the government sometimes switches the capital to Quezon City (also in Luzon) as it is the largest city of the Philippines. Manila is the site of Malacañang Palace, the seat of government and official residence of the President. Financial, business, and posh shopping districts are found in Makati, also in the Luzon region. Quezon City is the home of the House of Congress, Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo (military bases), and other government buildings, such as the Social Security Building.
The number of islands in the Philippines may give an indication of the number of dialects spoken; there are over 170 dialects spoken throughout the islands including Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, etc. Interpreting the language may prove to be difficult as there are so many spoken dialects. However, the government officially declared Tagalog and English as the official languages of the country, making it appealing for Westerners to do business in the islands.
Since English is the official language of the government, business and education, most Filipinos speak “Tag-lish”, a mixture of Tagalog and English words, in everyday conversation. This style of talking makes translating and interpreting a bit trickier as locals easily switch languages.
The Philippines were Spanish occupied for around three centuries, coming to an end with the Spanish-American War in 1898. (The Spanish influence explains why most Filipinos have last names of Spanish origin.) The Islands became known as the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. A transitory president, Manuel Quezon, was elected to guide the islands and he served the country for 8 years. The United States agreed to give the island its independence after a decade-long transitional period. The Philippines finally gained its independence from the Americans in 1946 following a short occupation by the Japanese during World War II.
Philippine national anthem & national flag
The Filipinos are a very nationalistic people. The national anthem “Lupang Hinirang” (Translation: Beloved Land) is played at the beginning of most business ceremonies and even at movie theatres at the start of each film. The national flag can be interpreted as follows: three stars representing the three regions of the country (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao); eight sun rays illustrating the uprise of the first eight provinces (Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Pampanga) against the Spanish rule. The two bands can be interpreted as ‘war’ (red) and ‘peace’ (blue). Its unique property is that the flag can be hung both ways: blue at the top during peace time and red at the top during a time of war.
With a GDP of approximately $299.6 billion, the Philippines is a newly industrialised country that has been named one of the "Next Eleven" due to its efforts to become a developed country by 2020, and the expansion of its economy. Its labour force is split between service and agriculture, and its industries include electronics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, petroleum refining and fishing. Major agricultural practices include the production of sugarcane, rice, coconuts, bananas, beef, fish and eggs.
Although in the 1960s, the Philippines had the largest economy in Asia, it sustained a severe economic depression as its market economy was transposed into a centrally planned economy. By the 1990s, however, a period of economic liberalisation led to the upturn in the Philippines' economic outlook.
The country is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and also a member of the World Bank, IMF, WTO and G-77.
The Philippines is one of the sixteen nations to sign the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security. The purpose of this treaty was to promote sustainable alternatives for future energy sources, as well as to ensure energy security. The islands have an abundance of volcanic activity, and so the country is a world-leader in the provision of geothermal energy.
The Philippines has an extremely diverse range of natural resources, from its extensive flora and fauna to areas such as agriculture, forestry and minerals. As an island nation its waters house a wealth of marine species, and its humid tropical climate attract orchids, pythons and birds of prey.
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