PHILIPPINEGEOGRAPHY Anjanette B. Alvarez BEEd-I
HISTORY • The Philippines is an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands with a total land area of 300,000 km2. The 11 largest islands contain 94% of the total land area. The largest of these islands is Luzon at about 105,000 km2. The next largest island is Mindanao at about 95,000 km2. The archipelago is around 800 km from the Asian mainland and is located between Taiwan and Borneo. • The islands are divided into three groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Luzon islands include Luzon Island itself, Palawan, Mindoro,Marinduque, Masbate and Batanes Islands. The Visayas is the group of islands in the central Philippines, the largest of which are: Panay, Negros,Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. The Mindanao islands include Mindanao itself, plus the Sulu Archipelago, composed primarily of Basilan, Sulu Island, and Tawi-Tawi.
PHYSICAL SETTING The Philippine archipelago lies in Southeast Asia in a position that has led to its becoming a cultural crossroads, a place where Malays, Arabs, Chinese, Spaniards, Americans, Japanese and others have interacted to forge a unique cultural and racial blend. The archipelago numbers some 7,107 islands and the nation claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. The Philippines occupies an area that stretches for 1,850 kilometers from about the fifth to the twentieth parallels north latitude. The total land area is slightly more than 300,000 square kilometers. Only approximately 1,000 of its islands are populated, and fewer than one-half of these are larger than 2.5 square kilometers. Eleven islands make up 95 percent of the Philippine landmass, and two of these — Luzon and Mindanao — measure 105,000 and 95,000 square kilometers, respectively. They, together with the cluster of the Visayan Islands that separate them, represent the three principal regions of the archipelago that are identified by the three stars on the Philippine flag. Topographically, the Philippines is broken up by the sea, which gives it one of the longest coastlines of any nation in the world. Most Filipinos live on or near the coast, where they can easily supplement their diet from approximately 2,000 species of fish.
Off the coast of eastern Mindanao is the Philippine Trough, which descends to a depth of 10,430 meters. The Philippines is part of a western Pacific arc system that is characterized by active volcanoes. Among the most notable peaks are Mount Mayon near Legazpi City, Taal Volcano south ofManila, and Mount Apo on Mindanao. All of the Philippine islands are prone to earthquakes. The northern Luzon highlands, or Cordillera Central, rise to between 2,500 and 2,750 meters, and, together with the Sierra Madre in the northeastern portion of Luzon and the mountains of Mindanao, boast rain forests that provide refuge for numerous upland tribal groups. The rain forests also offer prime habitat for more than 500 species of birds, including the Philippine eagle (or monkey-eating eagle), some 800 species of orchids, and some 8,500 species of flowering plants. • The country's most extensive river systems are the Pulangi River, which flows into the Mindanao River (Rio Grande de Mindanao); the Agusan, in Mindanao which flows north into the Mindanao Sea; the Cagayan in northern Luzon; and the Pampanga, which flows south from east Central Luzon into Manila Bay. Laguna de Bay, east of Manila Bay, is the largest freshwater lake in the Philippines. Several rivers have been harnessed for hydroelectric power. • To protect the country's biological resources, the government has taken a first step of preparing a Biodiversity Action Plan to address conservation of threatened species.
POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY • The Philippines is divided into a hierarchy of local government units (LGUs) with the 81 provinces as the primary unit. Provinces are further subdivided into cities and municipalities, which are in turn composed of barangays. The barangay is the smallest local government unit. • The Philippines is divided into 17 regions with all provinces grouped into one of 16 regions for administrative convenience. The National Capital Region however, is divided into four special districts. • Most government offices establish regional offices to serve the constituent provinces. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government, with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
CLIMATE • The Philippines has a tropical wet climate dominated by a rainy season and a dry season. The summer monsoon brings heavy rains to most of the archipelago from May to October, whereas the winter monsoon brings cooler and drier air from December to February. Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May. Even at this time, however, temperatures rarely rise above 37 °C (98.6 °F). Mean annual sea-level temperatures rarely fall below 27 °C (80.6 °F). Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (196.9 in) in the mountainous east coast section of the country, but less than 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) in some of the sheltered valleys. • Monsoon rains, although hard and drenching, are not normally associated with high winds and waves. But the Philippines sit astride the typhoon belt, and it suffers an annual onslaught of dangerous storms from July through October. These are especially hazardous for northern and eastern Luzon and the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions, but Manila gets devastated periodically as well.
REFERENCES • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_the_Philippines • http://www.choosephils.com/