The Republic of the Philippines in the western Pacific Ocean, made up of the Philippine Islands and a part of the Malay Archipelago. It is at 13 degrees North and 122 degrees East. Situated about 750 mi (about 1210 km) east off the coast of Vietnam, the Philippines is separated from Taiwan to the north by the Bashi Channel. The country is made up of 7100 islands, and only about 460 are more than 1 sq mi (2.9 sq km) in area. Eleven islands have an area of more than 1000 sq mi (more than 2600 sq km) each and have a huge amount of the population. These islands are Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate. The total area of the Philippines is about 120,000 sq mi (about 300,000 sq km). Manila is the capital and largest city of the Philippines.
The Philippines are the most northern group of islands in the Malay Archipelago, extending about 1150 mi (about 1850 km) north and south between Borneo and Taiwan, and the eastern and western size is almost 700 mi (almost 1100 km). The islands are of volcanic origin. In general the Philippine mountain ranges extend north to south. Earthquakes are common in the islands, which includes about 20 active volcanoes. On the smaller islands the mountains form a backbone. The larger islands have more geographical features, with broad plains and level fertile valleys in the interior. In the southeast peninsula it is a mountainous region with some volcanoes. Mayon Volcano, an active volcano that erupted without warning in February 1993, is on this peninsula just north of Legaspi. Dormant for about 600 years, Mount Pinatubo, a volcano located in central Luzon, erupted in late June 1991 and again in July 1992. Large rivers, some of which are passable, pass through the principal islands of the Philippines. The longest river on Luzon is the Cagayan; other important rivers on the island include the Chico, Abra, Pampanga, and Bicol. The Mindanao and the Agusan are the principal rivers of Mindanao. The Philippine Islands are within the Tropics and have an annual temperature of about 80°F (about 27°C). Rainfall averages about 80in (about 203cm) a year in the lower lands. In most of the Philippine Islands the rainy season occurs during the summer monsoon, from May to November, when the wind blows from the southwest. The dry season occurs during the winter monsoon, from December to April, when the wind blows from the northeast. From June to October the Philippine Islands are sometimes struck by typhoons, which sometimes cause great damage. The Philippines have very many mineral and forest resources. The principal minerals are gold, copper, iron, chromite, manganese, salt, and coal. Other minerals found here include silver, lead, mercury, limestone, petroleum, nickel, and uranium. Forests cover 23% of the Philippines. Some of these trees are the banyan, many different kinds of palm, and many indigenous trees with extremely hard wood such as apitong, yacal, lauan, camagón, ipil, white and red narra, and mayapis. Bamboo, cinnamon cloves, and pepper plants grow wild, and so does many other kinds of orchid. One of the most valuable plants is the abaca, a plantain, and the fiber that is used to make cordage, textiles, and hats. Mangrove trees and nipa palms grow in coastal swamps. Considerable areas of the uplands are covered by coarse grasses, of little value, for cattle. Few mammals are found on the islands, but there are many reptiles. The islands also have 556 species of birds. Coastal waters are filled with marine life, mainly mollusks, which the Philippines are well known for. There are huge amounts of pearl oysters around the Sulu Archipelago. About 32% of the land is farmland. In the northern islands the soils are mainly originated from volcanic rock. Coral limestone is an important part of the soils in the southern islands. In general the soils of the islands are poor in quality.
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