The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese.
Filipinos are fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes. Natural, ethnic and cultural resources give the Philippines an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands a unique strength of character in Southeast Asia.
It emanates limestone reliefs covered with primeval forest, underground rivers, animal sanctuaries and superb diving spots on the island of Palawan, beaches hemmed in with white sand of Boracay and Malapascua, geological and animal curiosities of Bohol, healers of Siquijor , peaceful explorations of the Camotes, trekking on Mount Apo in the middle of an collection of orchid, unique in the world; the list would be long ...
The Philippines is divided into 3 main geographical divisions : Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
7107 islands form the Philippines archipelago, surrounded by approximately 1 100 000 km² of territorial waters and covering an area of land of approximately 30 0000 km², of which 33% is agricultural land and 15% forested. Most of the mountainous islands are of volcanic origin and still partly covered by tropical forests. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao (2,954 m). Many volcanoes like Pinatubo are still active.
The island of Luzon
Luzon is the largest and most northerly island in the country. Its northern part is traversed from north to south, by two mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre and the Cordillera Central, which meet in the peninsula of Camarines, where stands the Mayon volcano. The center of the island is a flat and fertile plain.
Agriculture is the main activity. The rice terraces of Banaue have been carved for more than 2,000 years by the Ifugao tribes. Other important crops are maize, sugar cane, tobacco (Luzon produces most Philippine tobacco), mangoes, coconuts and bananas. The island also produces wood, and there are also mines of gold, silver, iron, copper, and so on.
The archipelago of Palawan, the most westerly of the country, is a natural paradise with more than 1,700 islands, 2,000 km of coastline and 45% of mountainous areas.
Manila, on the island of Luzon, is the capital and the second largest city of the country after its neighbor Quezon City constituting, with 15 additional cities, the region of Greater Manila.
Divided into western, central and eastern regions, the Visayas have seven main islands: Panay, Negros, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Masbate and Cebu. Mostly mountainous, they also have many tropical beaches.
Cebu, the central island, is the most populated. First to have been colonized by the Spaniards, its center has been cleared and is subject to serious erosion. The island of Masbate is best known for its mineral wealth, but its rolling hills are also dotted with livestock farms and plantations. In the front line on the eastern flank, Samar and Leyte are the most affected by typhoons.
Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills. Numbering about 1300 and high on average 100 m, these "chocolate hills" owe their nickname to the brown color that takes the grass covering them under the sun of the dry season. This effect is strongly amplified by the symmetry of the balloon shapes of the limestone sediments that compose them, a karst almost unique to the region. Another island star but unfortunately endangered, the tarsiers, the world's smallest primates. Resembling gremlins, they would have inspired the character of ET, created by Steven Spielberg.
The lava and ashes escaping from active volcanoes in the center of Negros fertilize its soils. Finally, Panay, where lies the plain of Iloilo to the east, is one of the most fertile regions of the Visayas. Celebrated in Kalinbo, the festival of Ati-Atihan is the largest of the country.
The island of Mindanao
The second largest island in the Philippines, Mindanao hosts an important volcanic group dominated by Mount Apo, the highest point (2,954 m) in the country. Mountains follow the Pacific coast. In the center-east extends the valley of Agusan, in the west, the long peninsula of Zamboanga.
The busiest island in the Philippines, pineapples, corn, copra, manila hemp, abaca, coffee and cocoa are harvested all year round. Its shores are surrounded by islands such as those westering to the southwest: Basilan, Jolo, Tawi Tawi ... Mostly Muslim, Mindanao has ethnic groups sometimes animist and among the most fascinating in the country for their traditions and customs. Unfortunately a large part of its territory is in conflict with a long rebellion of politico-religious origin.