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Official Name: Republic of the Philippines
Short Name: Philippines
Local Name: Republika ng Pilipinas
Short Local Name: Republika ng Pilipinas

Capital:  Manila
Largest City: Quezon City
Official Languages: Filipino, English
Recognized National Languages: Bikol, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Tagalog, and Waray-Waray.  There are more than 100 dialects spoken throughout the islands.
National Language: Filipino
Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Currency: Philippine Peso, about US$0.021
Location:  Southeastern Asia: an archipelago surrounded by the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait.

Geographical Feature:  Consists of 7,107 islands.  The islands of Luzon and Mindanao account for two-thirds of the land area.  Total land area is 300,000 sq km (115,831 sq mi – slightly larger than the state of Arizona.  Highest elevation is Mount Apo at 2,954 meters while the lowest point is the Philippine Deep or Mindanao Trench in the Philippine Sea at 10,540 meters or 34,580 feet..


Population: 90,000,000 (2008 estimate), 88,574,614 (census of 2007).  The Philippines is the world’s 12th most populous country, the national economy is the 46th largest in the world with an estimated 2008 GDP of over US$154 billion.  There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population. Roughly half of the country’s population live on the island of Luzon


Religions:  Roman Catholic, 80.9%, Evangelical, 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo, 2.3%, Aglipayan, 2%, other Christian, 4.5%, Muslim, 5%, others 1.8%, unspecified, 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census).  A former colony of Spain, and the United States, the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor.


Education/Culture: Formal education is patterned after the American system, with English as the medium of instruction.  Schools are classified into public (government) and private. Culture is a mix of pre-Hispanic Austronesian, Hispanic and American civilizations, with a large influence of Indian, Chinese, and Arab cultures.


Politics: The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government divided into 17 regions, except one autonomous region largely free from the national government, where the president is both head of state and head of government, and is at the same time commander-in-chief of the armed forces.  The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, and presides over an appointive cabinet.  Congress is bicameral, with a Senate and a House of Representatives, all elected.  Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court , presided over by a Chief Justice and a complement of 14 associate justices.


Areas of Interest: Banaue Rice Terraces, Chocolate Hills, Mayon Volcano, Taal Lake/Volcano, Philippine Deep, baroque churches built by Spanish religious orders, Muslim Mindanao, Monkey-eating eagle, Tamaraw – smaller species of the water buffalo, spectacular religious festivals, numerous beautiful beaches and resorts, world-class universities, Philippine cuisine, warm hospitality, Hispanic influence (in customs, food, language, literature, music, art, surnames, worship, dances, etc), and countless coral reefs, surfing and diving areas, and strong family ties.