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Whitaker's Almanack: The Philippines

Information on The Philippines

See also QFINANCE article

Republika ng Pilipinas – Republic of the Philippines

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 300,000 sq. km
  • Capital – Manila; population (Metro Manila, including Quezon City), 11,449,200 (2009 est)
  • Major cities – Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, General Santos (Dadiangas), Iloilo, Zamboanga
  • Currency – Philippine peso (P) of 100 centavos
  • Population – 103,775,002 rising at 1.87 per cent a year (2012 est); Tagalog (28.1 per cent), Cebuano (13.1 per cent), Ilocano (9 per cent), Bisaya (7.6 per cent), Hiligaynon Ilonggo (7.5 per cent), Bikol (6 per cent), Waray (3.4 per cent) (2000)
  • Religion – Christian (Roman Catholic 81 per cent, other 12 per cent), Muslim 5 per cent (predominantly Sunni) (est)
  • Language – Filipino (based on Tagalog), English (both official), Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, Pangasinan
  • Population density – 313 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 66.4 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 22.9 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Lupang Hinirang' ['Chosen Land']
  • National day – 12 June (Independence Day)
  • Death penalty – Abolished for all crimes (since 2006)
  • CPI score – 2.6 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

The Philippines comprises over 7,100 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The principal islands are Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay and Leyte; other groups include the Sulu islands, Babuyanes and Batanes, Calamian and Kalayaan islands. The islands mostly have mountainous interiors and narrow coastal plains. The mountain ranges are volcanic, and some volcanoes are still active. Elevation extremes range from 2,954m (Mt Apo) to 0m (Philippine Sea). The climate is tropical, with relatively constant temperatures throughout the year which in Manila vary between averages of 22°C in January and February and 34°C in May and June, when the humidity is particularly oppressive. The country is affected by the monsoons, which cause the rainy season between July and October. During this period the country is also susceptible to typhoons, which frequently cause widespread damage and loss of life.

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History and Politics

The Philippine islands were settled first by Malays, then by Chinese, Indonesian and Arab traders. Islam was introduced in the 14th century and became the dominant religion in the south. The islands were discovered by Spain and then settled from 1565 by the Spanish, who introduced Roman Catholicism. Colonial rule lasted until 1898, when Spain ceded the colony to the USA following the Spanish-American War. The country became internally self-governing in 1935, was occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1944, and achieved independence from the USA in 1946.

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965, imposing martial law in 1972. His regime became increasingly repressive, corrupt and violent, and when he falsified election results in 1986 to prevent Corazon Aquino from taking office as president, a popular uprising forced him to flee the country. Aquino survived political unrest and ten attempted military coups to introduce a new constitution and entrench democratic politics.

Fidel Ramos, Aquino's successor in 1992, built on her work, raised the country's international profile and instigated peace talks with insurgents (see below). Joseph Estrada, elected president in 1998, was overthrown in 2001 in a popular uprising; his term was completed by Vice-President Gloria Arroyo. President Arroyo retained the presidency in the 2004 presidential election, but her popularity plummeted and her anti-corruption measures and economic reforms were undermined by corruption scandals and impeachment attempts.

The 2010 presidential election was won by Benigno ('Noynoy') Aquino III, son of former president Corazon Aquino.

A communist insurgency by the New People's Army (NPA) began in the late 1960s. The NPA is based in Mindanao but has groups in rural areas throughout the country. Peace talks between the government and the NPA's political front, the National Democratic Front, stalled in 2004 but were resumed in early 2011.

There has been a Muslim (Moro) insurgency in the southern islands, particularly Mindanao, since the 1970s. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) concluded a peace agreement with the government in 1996 that ended its insurgency and established the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed a ceasefire with the government in 2003, but negotiations over a Muslim 'homeland' broke down in 2008; a resumption of violence in 2009 displaced over 300,000 people until another ceasefire was agreed and peace talks resumed in late 2009. Talks broke-down in October 2011, however, after air strikes on MILF areas in Zamboanga left 35 people dead.

The radical Muslim separatist group Abu Sayyaf, based on Jolo and Basilan, is viewed as a terrorist organisation and the government refuses to negotiate with it. It has links with Jamaah Islamiyah, the group responsible for the Bali bombings, and possibly with al-Qaida. Since 2001 it has carried out a series of violent kidnappings and bombings, but military operations since 2006 have depleted its numbers and its leadership.

Under the 1987 constitution, the executive president is directly elected for a six-year term, which is not renewable. There is a bicameral Congress. The lower house, the House of Representatives, has 286–8 members, of whom 231 are directly elected and the rest appointed from party and minority group lists; all serve a three-year term. The senate has 24 members directly elected for a six-year term, with half re-elected every three years.

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao comprises the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao on Mindanao and the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. It has a 24-member regional assembly and a governor.


President, Benigno ('Noynoy') Aquino III, elected 10 May 2010, sworn in 30 June 2010
Vice-President, Jejomar Binay


Finance, Cesar Purisima
Trade and Industry, Gregory Domingo
Foreign Affairs, Albert del Rosario
Defence, Voltaire Gazmin


6–8 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG
T 020-7451 1780 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Enrique Manalo, apptd 2011


120 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill, Taguig City 1634, Manila
T (+63) (2) 858 2200 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Stephen Lillie, apptd 2009

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All aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service25,614,13525,035,061
Fit for military service20,142,94021,427,792

Military expenditure – US$2,225m (2011)

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Economy and Trade

The economy has been one of the best-performing in the region since 2002, owing to growth in exports, agricultural output and the service industries. Despite this, poverty has increased as economic expansion struggles to offset the high rate of population growth, and nearly a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Remittances from the millions of Filipinos working abroad are vital and helped to cushion the economy in 2009 from the effects of the global downturn, although the government was forced to announce a stimulus effort after growth slowed significantly in 2011.

Major industries include electronics assembly, manufacture of clothing, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and wood products, food processing, oil refining and fishing. The large agricultural sector employs 33 per cent of the workforce, producing sugar cane, coconuts, rice, maize, tropical fruits and livestock products. Agriculture accounts for 12.3 per cent of GDP, industry for 33.3 per cent and services for 54.4 per cent.

The main trading partners are the USA, Japan, China, Singapore, other Asian states and the EU. Principal exports are semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, clothing, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil and fruit. The main imports are electronic products, fuels, machinery and transport equipment, iron and steel, fabrics, grains, chemicals and plastics.

GNI – US$199,897m; US$2,060 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 4.7 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 5.3 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 32.9 per cent (2006 est)
Unemployment – 7.2 per cent (2011 est)
Total external debt – US$62,410m (2011 est)
Imports – US$58,229m (2010)
Exports – US$51,432m (2010)


Trade – US$6,797m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$8,465m surplus (2010)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£285,673,790£285,362,823
Exports to UK£674,036,683£453,530,270

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Airports and waterways – There are 254 airports and airfields, including international airports at Manila, Cebu and Davao City. The main ports are Manila (Luzon), Cebu, Davao, Subic Bay, Batangas and Iloilo, and there are over 420 smaller ports

Roadways and railways – There are 213,151km of roads, and Philippine National Railway operates 995km of railways

Telecommunications – 6.78 million fixed lines and 79.89 million mobile subscriptions (2010); there were 8.28 million internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD – ph; 63 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – The government-owned IBC television network competes with two commercial broadcasters and over 700 radio stations

Press – There are four main national newspapers, including the Daily Tribune and Malaya

WPFI score – 60,00 (156)

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Education and Health

There are seven years of free and compulsory primary education, followed by three years of free but non-compulsory secondary education.

Literacy rate – 95.4 per cent (2008 est)
Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 106 per cent; secondary 85 per cent (2009 est); tertiary 29 per cent (2008 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$67 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 0.5 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 71.94 (2012 est)
Mortality rate – 4.98 (2012 est)
Birth rate – 24.98 (2012 est)
Infant mortality rate – 18.75 (2012 est)

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