The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia bordered by the Philippine Sea to the east, the South China Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea (Sulawesi) to the south. Bordering and neighboring countries are Taiwan in north, Borneo in southwest; Maluku Islands (Indonesia) in south-southwest and Palau in east. Its 7,107 islands is specifically located between 116° 40′, and 126° 34′ E longitude and 4° 40′ and 21° 10′ N latitude. The total land area and inland bodies of water sum up roughly to 300, 000 square kilometers; making its shoreline of 36,289 kilometers as the world’s 5th longest coastline.
Numerous straits are found in the Philippine islands which allow express travel into its three main island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The country has highly mountainous areas covered with thick lush of vegetations or tropical rainforests which serves as the habitat of some of the most exotic animal and botanical species. Its surrounding waters from the Pacific Ocean have been home and sanctuary of mega diverse sea creatures and has increased endemism rate (species’ ecological state of being inimitable to a distinct geographic location) for the Philippines. Conservation International has cited this country as a hotspot for global protection of its rare types of flora and fauna due to fast extinction, including the ecological disturbances to some mountain-to-sea ecosystem.
Mineral deposits like gold and copper are profusely present due to the Philippines volcanic geography. Good density of nickel, chrome and zinc are left untapped because of the country’s environmental awareness.
The three island groups
Luzon is considered the largest and most densely populated island in the Philippines. Situated in the northern part of the archipelago, it’s the home of country’s capital city, Metro Manila. The highest point of Luzon is Mt. Pulag in Cordillera mountain range which belongs to the northwestern part, Ilocos Region. Baguio City reigns in the north. Western coasts of the central part extends from Zambales to the formation of Lingayen Gulf and finally to Bataan Peninsula where Manila Bay is enclosed. Sierra Mountain range stretches across from these points and snakes downward south to Bicol Peninsula. Southern Luzon takes up the CALBARZON regions (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon). Outlying smaller islands like Palawan, Mindoro, Catanduanes, and Polillo are also a part of this cluster.
Visayas has six major islands called Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Samar and Leyte which are divided into three regions: Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Locally known as the Kabisaya-an, it offers picturesque cities like Iloilo City and the busy and modern Cebu City. Tacloban City in Leyte and Tagbilaran City in Bohol are famous for their natural wonders of rock formations and long bridges. Visayas has patchy beautiful islets like Camotes, Tres Marias, Guimaras and Sagay. Visayas possess white beaches and pearl-diving sites and are known for its century-old mangroves.
Mindanao is found in the southernmost part of the Philippines. Davao City is the largest city and is known for its industrial hub and agricultural basin. Davao takes pride in Mt. Apo as the highest mountain and home to the world’s biggest eagle. Muslims in this country mainly reside in the Southwestern part of this island called Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or ARMM. Ethnicity or indigenous groups still abounds in this island like Lumads, Tausugs and Moros. The chain of islands of the Sulu Archipelago, composed of the main islets of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, lies almost next to Malaysia.