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Philippines at a Glance

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298,170 sq km

Currency (code):

Philippine peso (PHP)

Exchange rates:

Philippine pesos per US dollar - 46.634 (2007), 51.246 (2006), 55.086 (2005), 56.04 (2004), 54.203 (2003)


91,077,287 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure:

  1. 0-14 years: 34.5% (male 16,043,257/female 15,415,334)
  2. 15-64 years: 61.3% (male 27,849,584/female 28,008,293)
  3. 65 years and over: 4.1% (male 1,631,866/female 2,128,953) (2007 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.764% (2007 est.)


Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census)


The climate is generally tropical and humid. The Luzon highlands, near Baguio, have a mild climate with low humidity. More than one-fourth of the country’s fertile soil is under cultivation. About 25 percent of the land is covered with forests (down from 40 percent a decade ago). The rainy season extends from June to October. Typhoons are likely from June to November, but they may occur during any season because the Philippines is in the typhoon belt.


English and Pilipino are official languages. English is the main language of business, government, and higher education; it is also the language of instruction for some schools and for math and science in all schools. Many ethnic groups that peak one of more than 70 other languages or dialects were hesitant to adopt Pilipino when it was introduced in the 1960s because it was based on Tagalog.

General Attitudes:

The influence of Chinese, Malayan, Spanish, and U.S. cultures is evident in Filipino society. Individualism is considered less important than the family. Bringing shame to individuals reflects on their family and is avoided at all costs. Interdependence is more important than independence. Although generally casual and fun loving, Filipinos are sensitive people and consider maintaining smooth social relationships to be more important than expressing personal views or delivering bad or unwanted news. To avoid hurting or displeasing others, Filipinos may use a third party to deliver bad news or might say “maybe” when they mean “no.” “Yes” can mean “maybe.” Confrontation is usually avoided. Frankness can signify a lack of culture. In general, Filipinos have a relaxed view of time and may not always begin meetings or appointments promptly.

Accepting a favor obliges a Filipino to repay with a greater favor, although never with money. Filipinos often show admiration by imitation. Innovation, change, and competition are sometimes considered risky since they could result in failure. Changing social or religious habits may be regarded as ingratitude to parents. Fatalism is common—success may be attributed to fate rather than ability or effort. The Latin concept of machismo (proving one’s manliness or superiority) is evident in the Philippines; the ideal man is a macho man. Men often make comments about women passing by on the street, but such comments are ignored.


Initial greetings are friendly and informal. Handshakes are typical, but verbal greetings are acceptable alone. To show additional respect or enthusiasm, one places the free hand on top of a handshake or uses it to pat the other person’s shoulder. Between women or between men and women, a beso-beso (kiss to each cheek) is common.

Common informal greetings include Saan ka pupunta? (Where are you going?) and Saan ka galing? (Where have you been?). A typical response is Diyan lang (There, only). Kumusta ka na? (How are you doing?) is more formal. Anong balita? (What’s new?) and Ayos ba tayo ’dyan? (Is everything all right?) are used among friends. Just as common are the English Hi and Good morning.

Young people show respect to adults by addressing them with a proper title. If a professional title (doctor, manager, chief) is not appropriate, then Sir, Ma’am, or a familial title based on the age difference and relationship of the speakers is used. Young adults commonly address older adult strangers as tita (auntie) or tito (uncle). The elderly might be called lola (grandmother) or lolo (grandfather). Similar titles exist in most dialects. Those equal in age and status address each other by first name or nickname. If individuals have a professional title, however, even peers may address them by that title to acknowledge their achievement or status.

Labor force:

36.31 million (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

  1. agriculture: 36%
  2. industry: 15%
  3. services: 49% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7.9% (2007 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.8% (2007 est.)

Natural resources:

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


$48.38 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities:

semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, fruits

Exports - partners:

China 18.3%, US 16.5%, Japan 10.1%, Netherlands 9.8%, China 7.8%, Hong Kong 7.3%, Singapore 5.6%, Malaysia 4.3% (2006)


$53.96 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:

electronic products, mineral fuels, machinery and transport equipment, iron and steel, textile fabrics, grains, chemicals,

Imports - partners:

Taiwan 16.3%, US 13.6%, Japan 8.5%, Singapore 8%, Taiwan 7.1%, China 6.2%, South Korea 5.8%, Saudi Arabia 4.1%, Malaysia 4.1%, Thailand 4% (2006)



“Philippines.” CultureGrams World Edition. 2008. ProQuest. <>.


“Philippines.” Factsheet. May, 2007. Economist Intelligence Unit. <>

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