Philippines Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Philippines?

Overview:

The Philippines is composed of 7,107 separate islands (7,106 during high tide), only 880 of which are inhabited. The three major geographical areas in the Philippines are the large island of Luzon in the north, which includes Manila; the large island of Mindanao in the south; and the group of islands lying between them, known as the Visayas. The three stars on the Philippine flag symbolize these three areas.

The island geography of the Philippines includes about 21,000 miles of natural coastline. Much of the coastal area is rugged and irregular, punctuated by numerous natural harbors and picturesque coves. The Philippines also has some of the most spectacular beaches to be found in the South Pacific. Sites that would live up to anyone's fantasy of a pristine South Pacific paradise of white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, they are a popular destination for tourists from around the world. Unfortunately, the heavy pollution and rocky coastline of Manila Bay render the metro Manila area itself unsuited for leisurely Sundays at the beach.

The interior of the country is generally mountainous, with several mountain peaks reaching almost 10,000 feet. In addition, the Philippines has extensive fertile plains along the coast and in the center of the country. It also features lush and scenic rolling hills, with rich valleys crossed by rivers. There are numerous volcanoes in the country, and some are frequently active. The most recent and infamous example was the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 12, 1991, which was the largest volcanic eruption of the century. The Mt. Pinatubo eruption permanently altered the topography of northern Luzon and continues to cause flood control problems.

Minor earth tremors occur frequently. In 1969 and 1970, major earthquakes hit Manila, resulting in moderate damage and some loss of life. In January 1982, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Northern Bicol. In August 1983, an earthquake measuring 5.7 occurred in Ilocos Norte. Both caused extensive property damage and loss of life. On July 16, 1990, one of the largest and most destructive earthquakes ever to hit the Philippines struck in Central Luzon. At its epicenter near Cabanatuan, it measured 8.0 on the Richter scale. This "killer earthquake" caused great destruction and loss of life in Baguio and some other cities of Central Luzon but did not seriously damage Manila.

The Philippines is a country rich with unique tropical rain forests and coral reefs. It has been referred to as the Galapagos Islands times ten. It hosts more than 510 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians that exist nowhere else on earth. The country is also on the East Asian Migratory Flyway for birds that travel from the south pole to the north pole and back again each year. The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, just minutes from Cebu City, has won international ecotourism awards for its educational tours and conservation efforts. Scuba diving and snorkeling on the biologically diverse coral reefs are also popular activities, with good resorts and coral reefs within driving distance from Manila.

Less than 18% of the land area remains covered by forests-only about 5 million hectares. And only 800,000 hectares of this forest is considered old growth forest. These natural resources provide the basis for food security and employment for millions of Filipinos.

Geography - note:

the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia's main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait

Climate:

The Philippines has a tropical climate, but it is marginally less hot and humid than many tropical countries for most of the year. Although the sun shines almost year round, there are slight seasonal variations in the weather. The dry summer season, which runs from about late April to early June is hot and humid and with little rainfall. The typhoon season runs from June to September, with frequent drenching rains that can temper the heat somewhat but also preclude any outdoor activities. The downpours are often limited in duration, but the resulting flash floods can create chaos by blocking streets, stranding motorists, and bringing the already congested traffic of Manila to a virtual standstill. The most pleasant season follows the rainy season, from November until March. During this time of year, mornings can be fresh, and even the midday temperatures remain bearable, with frequent breezes that temper the heat.

The temperature range in Manila is relatively narrow, with minimum temperatures in the mid-70s and highs in the mid-90s, and an annual mean of about 80°F. Average relative humidity ranges from 69% in April to 84% in August or September.

Baguio, the original summer capital of the Philippines, is located 155 miles north of Manila at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. The climate varies between the dry and the very wet season, each lasting about six months. The dry season runs from December to May, with temperatures ranging from the 50s and 60s at night to highs in the mid-80s during the day. Baguio averages 176 inches of rainfall a year, about half of which falls in July and August alone. The rains begin tapering off in September and are light in October and November.

Philippines Use of Natural Resources

Philippines Environment

Climate:

The Philippines has a tropical climate, but it is marginally less hot and humid than many tropical countries for most of the year. Although the sun shines almost year round, there are slight seasonal variations in the weather. The dry summer season, which runs from about late April to early June is hot and humid and with little rainfall. The typhoon season runs from June to September, with frequent drenching rains that can temper the heat somewhat but also preclude any outdoor activities. The downpours are often limited in duration, but the resulting flash floods can create chaos by blocking streets, stranding motorists, and bringing the already congested traffic of Manila to a virtual standstill. The most pleasant season follows the rainy season, from November until March. During this time of year, mornings can be fresh, and even the midday temperatures remain bearable, with frequent breezes that temper the heat.

The temperature range in Manila is relatively narrow, with minimum temperatures in the mid-70s and highs in the mid-90s, and an annual mean of about 80°F. Average relative humidity ranges from 69% in April to 84% in August or September.

Baguio, the original summer capital of the Philippines, is located 155 miles north of Manila at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. The climate varies between the dry and the very wet season, each lasting about six months. The dry season runs from December to May, with temperatures ranging from the 50s and 60s at night to highs in the mid-80s during the day. Baguio averages 176 inches of rainfall a year, about half of which falls in July and August alone. The rains begin tapering off in September and are light in October and November.

Terrain:

mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands

Natural Resources:

timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper

Natural Hazards:

astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis

Irrigated Land:

7,255 Square Miles
18,790 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in major urban centers; coral reef degradation; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants

Philippines Geography

Geographic Location Southeast Asia
Total Area 115,830 Square Miles
300,000 Square Kilometers
Land Area 115,123 Square Miles
298,170 Square Kilometers
Water Area 707 Square Miles
1,830 Square Kilometers
Irrigated Land 7,255 Square Miles
18,790 Square Kilometers
Coastline 22,549 Miles
36,289 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 13 00 N, 122 00 E
Terrain mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands
Highest Point 2,954 Meters
Highest Point Location Mount Apo 2,954 m
Lowest Point Location Philippine Sea 0 m
Natural Resources timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper
Time Zone UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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