Capital: Manila is the center of trade and industry and contributes to the largest and densest population in the country in the world with an estimate of 20 million people (2010)
Language: Filipino and English are the two official languages. However, there are 12 major regional languages spoken namely: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bikol, Pangasinan. Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug. The country has more than 100 dialects but foreign travelers need not worry because most Filipinos have a quite handy English comprehension.
Philippine Flag: Each color and symbol of the flag bears significance: Blue for unity and noble ideals, Red for courage and bravery, White for peace and purity, The triangle with three equal sides represents equality among Filipino men, The sun stands for independence while its rays are the first 8 provinces that revolted against colonizers, and the three stars symbolize the three largest islands namely: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Also, the Philippine flag is the only flag in the world that when in peace the blue stripe is on top, while in times of war, it is the red stripe that is above.
Geography: The Philippines is an archipelago comprising of at least 7,107 islands located between the Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The land area is about 298,170 km and the water area is about 1,830 sq km, with a total of 300, 000 sq km. Indonesia lies to the southwest, China and Taiwan to the north and northwest, and Vietnam to the west. Highest elevation is Mount Apo in Mindanao and the lowest is sea level.
Climate: The Philippines has a tropical climate with distinct seasons. It is hot and humid year-round most especially during the summer season which is from March to May. This the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful beaches that Filipinos are very proud of. Travelers are advised to wear lightweight clothing and apply sunscreen. On the other hand, rainy season falls on June to October. Cooler season is during November to February and usually felt in high-land areas such as Tagaytay or Baguio.
Government: Democratic Republic is the form of government with the President as chief executive for a 6-year term. It is legislated by a congress of two houses with 24 Senate Representatives and 250 House Representatives.
Economy: The country’s chief products are mainly obtained from agriculture (rice, corn, coconuts, sugar cane, bananas, pineapples, cassava, pigs, chickens, and eggs), forestry (mahogany and narra), manufacturing (processed goods, electronic goods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, clothing and textiles, and petroleum products) and mining (copper, gold, nickel, and coal). All of these products are of export quality.
People: The country has a projected population of 92.6 million people as of 2010. Mostly are from Malay origin. Also, Roman Catholic is the predominant religion, followed by the Protestants, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. Filipinos are generally and by nature hospitable, have close family relations, and value kinship and camaraderie. Filipino characteristics are mostly from a blend of cultures.
Money: The currency used is Peso. Denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000. Major credit cards and US credit cards are accepted. When giving tips when service charge is not included, a 10-15% tip is suggested.
Transportation: When traveling by air, Manila is centrally connected to all international and domestic airports. Popular airlines are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and Zest Air and Seair. On the other hand, when traveling by sea, shipping lines are available such as RO-RO, WG&A, and Negros Navigation. By land, there are countless transportation services to choose from. Cab services, bus lines, jeepneys, and light rail transits are available for the public with a minimal cost depending on distance.
Communication: Philippine’s communication system has advanced in many ways. International and National calls (IDD and NDD) are readily available. Fax, telefax, global roaming, internet and text messaging are utilized in most areas of the archipelago.
Visa: Entry in the Philippines is possible without a formal visa and tourists can stay for 21 days if they are coming from America, Asia, or Europe. Visitors must hold a valid passport. Also, upon entering, they are required to present a destination and return ticket. Anyone who wishes to extend his/her stay in the Philippines must obtain in advance an extension visa to the consulate or embassy.
Tourism: Visitors truly enjoy the warm climate, superb scenery, well-preserved coral and white beaches, and magnificent wildlife. No doubt, millions of tourists are attracted to take pleasure and witness the beauty of the Philippines.