Republic of the Philippines
115,830.65 sq mi
300,000.00 sq km
81,159,644 (July 2000 est.)
Estimated Population in 2050
Pilipino (official, based on Tagalog), English (official)
94.6% total, 95.0% male, 94.3% female (1995 est.)
Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 3%
64.65 male, 70.46 female (2000 est.)
1 Philippine peso (P) = 100 centavos
GDP (per capita)
$3,600 (1999 est.)
Labor Force (by occupation)
agriculture 39.8%, government and social services 19.4%, services 17.7%,
manufacturing 9.8%, construction 5.8%, other 7.5% (1998 est.)
textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing,
electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing
rice, coconuts, corn, sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, mangoes; pork,
eggs, beef; fish
electronic equipment, machinery and transport equipment, garments, coconut
raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, consumer goods,
timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper
Current Environmental Issues
uncontrolled deforestation in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and
water pollution in Manila; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove
swamps which are important fish breeding grounds
Telephones (main lines in use)
1.9 million (1997)
Telephones (mobile cellular)
1.959 million (1998)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
The first inhabitants of the Philippines arrived around 250,000 years
ago, probably migrating over a land bridge from the Asian mainland.
The Negrito people arrived 25,000 years ago, but they were driven back
by several waves of immigrants from Indonesia, followed by maritime
immigrations of Malayan people. In 1380, the Arab-taught Makdum arrived
in the Sulu archipelago and began to establish what became a powerful
Islamic sphere of influence over the next hundred years.
Magellan arrived in 1521 and claimed the archipelago for Spain. Magellan
was killed by local chiefs who quite naturally disapproved of this notion.
Ruy Lopez de Villalobos followed in 1543 and named the territory Filipinas
after King Philip II of Spain. Permanent Spanish occupation began in
1565, and by 1571 the entire country, except for the strictly Islamic
Sulu archipelago, was under Spanish control.
independence movement grew in the 19th century and Filipinos fought
on the side of the Americans in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.
When the Spanish were defeated, General Aguinaldo declared the Philippines
independent. The USA, however, had other plans, and promptly purchased
the islands from the Spanish for US$20 million.
eventually recognised the Filipinos' desire for independence and Manuel
L Quezon was sworn in as President of the Philippine Commonwealth in
1935 as part of a transitional phase pending full independence. Japan
invaded the Philippines in 1942, brutally interrupting this process
and ruled until the USA re-invaded two years later. The Philippines
received full independence in 1946.
Marcos was elected president in 1965, declared martial law in 1972 and
ruled virtually as a dictator until 1986. His regime was attacked by
both communist and Muslim guerrillas, and he was accused of ballot-rigging
and fraud. The assassination of prominent opposition figure Benigno
'Ninoy' Aquino Jr in 1983 sparked massive anti-government protests.
A snap election in 1986 saw the opposition parties rally around Aquino's
widow, Cory. Both parties claimed victory, but Aquino was widely believed
to have polled most votes. She initiated a programme of non-violent
civil unrest which resulted in Marcos fleeing the country.
re-established the democratic institutions of the country, but failed
to tackle economic problems or win over the military and the powerful
Filipino elite. US strategic influence in the country diminished following
the 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption which destroyed the US Clark Airbase,
and after the Philippine Senate refused to ratify the lease on the Subic
Bay Naval Station. Aquino survived seven coups in six years and was
succeeded by her defence minister, Fidel Ramos, in 1992. Ramos aimed
to revitalise the economy, attract foreign investment, cleanse corruption
and expand provision of utilities.
government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a peace
accord in September 1996 ending, formally at least, the MNLF's 24-year
struggle for autonomy in Mindanao. The peace agreement foresaw the MNLF
being granted considerable autonomy in many of the island's provinces.
Peace in the area remains elusive, however, following the rise of a
splinter group, the militant Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which
opposes the agreement. The government continues to conduct military
operations in MILF-held areas in Basilan and Sulu.
Ramos was replaced as president by the Philippines' answer to Bruce
Willis, Joseph Estrada. Estrada, a former movie star elected more because
of the popularity of his on-screen persona than because of any political
experience, promised a lot economically and delivered it - straight
into his own pocket. He was impeached and brought to trial in late 2000
on charges of taking bribes from gambling syndicates, and using the
proceeds to line his own dens and build extravagant houses for his mistresses.
When Estrada and his political allies tried to derail the trial by blocking
prosecutors' access to his financial accounts, the people decided they'd
had enough and staged mass demonstrations in the streets of Manilla.
finally threw in the towel on 19 January 2001 and the next day his former
vice-president, Gloria Arroyo, was sworn in as the new president of
the Philippines. In an inauguration speech which must have sounded eerily
familiar to the people of the Philippines, Arroyo promised to wipe out
poverty and corruption; she refused to grant Estrada an amnesty for
his crimes with the intention of letting the courts decide his fate.
He stands accused of perjury and of dishonestly amassing four billion
Arroyo's presidency has been sorely tested. Various separatist movements
in the south have been linked to global terrorism, prompting the US
to send military assistance. A military coup attempt on 27 July 2003
underscored the tensions below the surface in the country. A standoff
lasting 20 hours ended when Arroyo issued a five-hour ultimatum.