1. The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 sq. km.). Main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.
2. March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C; humidity is 77%.
3. Final results of the latest Census of Population (POPCEN 2007) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the Philippine population at 88,574,614 persons as of August 1, 2007. Said results down to barangay level were made official with the signing by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Proclamation No. 1489 on April 16, 2008. (http://www.census.gov.ph/)
4. Two official languages — Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.
5. Some 83% of Filipinos are Catholic. About 5% are Moslem. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhist.
The Philippines was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The name of the country was given by Ruy López de Villalobos during his expedition in 1543 when he called the islands of Samar and Leyte “Las Islas Filipinas” after King Philip II who was the reigning monarch of Spain at that time. The name later on came to refer to the entire archipelago.
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.
Spain’s colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago.
The Philippines was held as a colony of Spain for more than 300 years. It declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 with the hoisting of the Philippine flag by General Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite. But Spain ceded control of the islands to the United States by way of the Treaty of Paris..
In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia.
They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence after the 2nd World War on July 4, 1946.