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Philippines in Numbers: Facts About the Philippines

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JC is a Psychology graduate with a passion for writing. She is also a proud Filipino who likes to share her country with the world.

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The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, located between the West Philippine Sea (also known as the South China Sea) and the Pacific Ocean. As a tropical country, it is known for its scenic views and famous beaches such as Boracay and Palawan.

However, Philippine history, culture, arts, people, and even geographic features speak that the country is more than its tourist destinations. This article covers various interesting facts about the Philippines ranging from its demographics, geography, language, and history.

2 Official Languages

Regional languages, dialects, and indigenous languages in the Philippines are mostly used among the locals (within provinces and municipalities), tribes, and especially within Philippines households. On the other hand, the Filipino language and English are being used as the country’s official languages.

The Filipino language is the country’s lingua franca that unifies the nation’s diverse tongues. English, on the other hand, is mostly used in government and official documents. Both languages are being used in school and in the media.

3 Major Islands

The Philippines consists of three major islands namely,

  • Luzon
  • Visayas
  • Mindanao

In line with this, there is a widespread misconception that the three (3) stars in the Philippines flag represent these islands, they don’t. The Three (3) stars represent the three principal islands that started revolutionary movements against the Spanish colonization namely, Luzon, Panay, and Mindanao.

3 Years of Japanese Occupation

Due to the country’s relationship with the United States of America (USA) during World War II, Japan occupied the country for three years, from 1942 to 1945. This started ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

8 Major Languages

Among the diverse language in the country, eight (8) major languages emerge. These regional languages are the most used and spoken languages in the country apart from the official languages.

  • Bikol
  • Cebuano
  • Hiligaynon (Ilonggo)
  • Ilokano
  • Kapampangan (Pampango)
  • Pangasinense
  • Tagalog
  • Waray

14 Years under Martial Law and Dictatorship

On the left is the former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos | On the right are Filipino citizens entering the Malacanang Palace to oust the dictator.

On the left is the former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos | On the right are Filipino citizens entering the Malacanang Palace to oust the dictator.

Ferdinand Marcos, the tenth President of the Philippines in 1965 and the second president to be reelected to office in 1969, aimed to increase his stay in office by efforts to manipulate the 1971 Constitutional Convention. This is one of the reasons that sparked student-led mobilizations and rallies. In order to control the increasing number of demonstrations, Marcos imposed Martial Law on September 23, 1972, and assumed all governing powers of the state as a dictator. Martial Law lasted until 1981, while Marcos' dictatorial era lasted until 1986 after he was ousted from office. (Official Gazette, n.d.)

From 1965 to 1986, the Marcos regime lasted for about 21 years.

17 Regions

Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are divided into 17 administrative regions.

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Luzon (consists of 8 Regions)

  • Region I (Ilocos Region)
  • Region II (Cagayan Valley)
  • Region III (Central Luzon)
  • Region IV‑A (CALABARZON)
  • MIMAROPA Region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan)
  • Region V (Bicol Region)
  • Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
  • National Capital Region (NCR)

Visayas (Consist of 3 Regions)

  • Region VI (Western Visayas)
  • Region VII (Central Visayas)
  • Region VIII (Eastern Visayas)

Mindanao (Consist of 6 regions)

  • Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula)
  • Region X (Northern Mindanao)
  • Region XI (Davao Region)
  • Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN - South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City)
  • Region XIII (Caraga)
  • Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

These regions are not the archipelago’s provinces nor the equivalent of local government units. Their primary significance is for administrative purposes where a certain city is designated for each region to be the region’s center where the regional office of various national government agencies is located. (PhilAtlas, n.d.)

48 years of American Colonization

American colonization started in 1898, after the Treaty of Paris, to 1946 when the United States recognized the Philippine independence after World War II.

170 Languages and Dialects

To date, there is no definitive count of the exact number of languages and dialects used in the Philippines. Sources vary depending on how they categorize the languages and dialects. Regardless, the Philippines is considered one of the most linguistically diverse countries with around 170 languages and dialects, most of which are indigenous tongues.

The exposure of the younger generation of Filipinos to these languages continues the movement toward trilingualism where Filipinos tend to speak English, Filipino, and at least one indigenous or regional language (usually their mother tongue).

Unfortunately, some of these languages are in danger of dying while others have already died because they are not being used or spoken.

333 Years of Spanish Colonization

The Spanish colonization period started from 1565 to 1898. The three centuries of colonization sparked when Ferdinand Magellan arrived on the island of Cebu, Philippines in March 1521 while in search of the Spice Islands. After his untimely death in Mactan, Cebu, King Philip II of Spain sent Miguel López de Legazpi and establish the first permanent Spanish settlement in Cebu, in 1565.

The archipelago is then named “Philippines” in honor of King Philip II.

The period ended on December 10, 1898, during the Treaty of Paris where Spain gave its possession of the Philippines to the United States of America in exchange for 20 million dollars.

7,614 Islands

The Philippine archipelago is known to have 7,107 islands and islets. However, in 2016, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) of the Philippines revealed the discovery of more than 500 uncharted islands and islets making the current island count at about 7,641 (Hernandez, 2022). About 2,000 of these are inhabited.

110 Million Filipinos

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Philippine population is approximately 109,581,078 as of 2020. The Worldometer website, on the other hand, estimated the Philippine population at 112,815,367 as of September 22, 2022. This is 1.41% of the total world population.

These facts are just a sneak peek of the rich history and culture of the Philippines. Just like any other country in the world, there is more to learn about this and its people.

Which of these facts do you think is most interesting?

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© 2022 JC Guiao

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