Location, Size and Boundaries
Location: The Philippines comprises an archipelago of some 7,107 islands located off Southeast Asia, between the South China Sea on the west and the Philippine Sea on the east. The major islands are Luzon in the north, the Visayan Islands in the middle, and Mindanao in the south.
Size: The total area is about 300,000 square kilometers, including about 298,000 square kilometers of land and about 2,000 square kilometers of water. The Philippines stretches about 1,850 kilometers from Y’Ami Island in the north to Sibutu Island in the south and is about 1,000 kilometers at its widest point east to west. The bulk of the population lives on 11 of the 7,107 islands.
Land Boundaries: The Philippines has no land boundaries. Nearby neighbors are Taiwan to the north, Malaysia and Indonesia to the south, Vietnam to the west, and China to the northwest.
Disputed Territory: The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam hold conflicting claims to portions of the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands, which are called the Kalayaan (Freedom) Islands in the Philippines. The Philippines also disputes Malaysia’s claim to the state of Sabah.
Length of Coastline: Estimates of the total length of the coastline range from 17,500 kilometers (official Philippine figure) to 36,289 kilometers (U.S. figure).
Maritime Claims: The Philippines claims a territorial sea of up to 100 nautical miles from the nearest coastline, an area that includes the entire Sulu Sea and the northern part of the Celebes Sea. A presidential decree in 1978 announced additional baselines, which in effect extended the territorial sea to claim an area up to 285 nautical miles in breadth in the South China Sea west of Palawan Island. This area encompasses the Spratly Islands. The Philippines also claims its continental shelf to the depth of exploitation and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles from its...