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A map of the Philippines, showing highland and lowland areas and vegetationThe Philippines is made up of 7107 islands lying between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, many of these islands were formed and shaped by volcanic eruptions. The northern island of Luzon is home to around half the country’s population, many of whom live on its large central plains in the cities and suburbs that surround the capital, Manila. To the south is another large island, Mindanao. Lying between them is a group of smaller islands known as the Visayas. Many Philippine islands have hilly, volcanic uplands, sloping to plains, beaches and mangrove swamps at the coast. The Philippines’ location just north of the equator gives the islands a tropical climate with hot, humid weather all year round. The rainy season lasts from June to November.

A map of the Philippines
Street basketball match in the slums of Manila


The Philippines is home to a number of different ethnic groups who migrated to the islands from mainland Asia, other Southeast Asian islands or Oceania hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. Among them are the Tagalog and Cebuano. The two largest non-indigenous groups are the Chinese and Spanish. The island of Mindanao is largely Muslim; elsewhere most people are Christian. In recent years, the Philippines’ population has grown rapidly, causing a shortage of jobs, housing and services. As a result, many people have left the country to find work abroad.


There are around 20 earthquakes each day in the Philippines, although most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was in 1990.

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