What is the terrain and geography like in Philippines?
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.
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.