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Philippines Main Page

 

Geography of the Philippines


A democratic republic located in the Western Pacific Ocean, the Republic of the Philippines is made up of the Philippine Islands and is the island group at the northernmost part of the Malay Archipelago.  

The Philippines is situated about 1,210 km (about 750 mi) east of the coast of Vietnam and is separated in the north from Taiwan by the Bashi Channel.  Bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea  (and Pacific Ocean), on the south by the Celebes Sea, and on the west by the South China Sea, the archipelagic state comprises about 7,100 islands.  Resulting from this situation are great variations in climate, geography and vegetation.

 

The total area of the Philippines has a total area of about 300,000 sq km (about 115, 830 sq mi).  About 298,170 of the total area is land area with the remaining 1,830 being the total water area.  The capital and largest city of the Philippines is Manila.

Extending 1,850 km (1,150 mi) from north to south and almost 1,127 km (700 mi) east to west, the Philippine Island group is of volcanic origin and generally mountainous.  Running parallel to the coasts, as well as bordering them in many places, the mountain ranges extend north to south.  There are about 20 active volcanoes on the islands, and earthquakes are fairly common.


 

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The larger islands, Luzon and Mindanao, are characterized by high mountains with alluvial plains and narrow fertile valleys.  Unlike the larger islands with their relatively diverse topography, the smaller islands are mountainous with surrounding flat lowlands.

Mount Apo, the Philippines' highest point, reaches 9692 ft (2954 m) and is found in the southernmost ranges on Mindanao, the second largest Philippine island.  

Considered to be part of the Tropics, the Philippines' mean annual temperature is about 80F (27C) with the interior valleys tending to be a little warmer and the mountain peaks a little cooler than the mean.   The relative humidity averages about 77%. 

The rainy season is from May to November, which is the summer monsoon, while the dry season occurs during the winter monsoon from December to April.  Typically, the weather is cool from November to February, while it's very hot and dry from March to May.  The rainiest times are from June to October, with typhoons not uncommon during this time. The average rainfall in the lowlands is about 80 inches a year (2030 mm).

Location:
Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:
13 00 N, 122 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
Area:
total: 300,000 sq km
country comparison to the world: 72
land: 298,170 sq km
water: 1,830 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
36,289 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 nm from coastline as defined by 1898 treaty; since late 1970s has also claimed polygonal-shaped area in South China Sea up to 285 nm in breadth
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate:
Current Weather
tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October)
Terrain:
mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Philippine Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Apo 2,954 m
Natural resources:
timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper
Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 16.67%
other: 64.33% (2005)
Irrigated land:
15,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
479 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 28.52 cu km/yr (17%/9%/74%)
per capita: 343 cu m/yr (2000)
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
volcanism: the Philippines experience significant volcanic activity; Taal (elev. 311 m, 1,020 ft), which has shown recent unrest and may erupt in the near future, has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Mayon (elev. 2,462 m, 8,077 ft), the country's most active volcano, erupted in 2009 forcing over 33,000 to be evacuated; other historically active volcanoes include Biliran, Babuyan Claro, Bulusan, Camiguin, Camiguin de Babuyanes, Didicas, Iraya, Jolo, Kanlaon, Makaturing, Musuan, Parker, Pinatubo and Ragang
Environment - current 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
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
 

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