A Spanish colony during the 16th century and ceded to the US in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, The Philippine archipelago consisting of 7101 islands became a self-governing commonwealth in 1935.
Located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea and situated east of Vietnam, and north of Sabah and Borneo, Philippines is abundant in nature, rich in culture, and filled with pleasant discoveries.
Even though prone to earthquakes and typhoons as it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country is considered in having one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Hundreds of ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino race.
Seen as Asia’s largest Catholic community and the world's third largest Catholic Nation, The Filipinos are known to celebrate Christmas from September until Epiphany. With an estimated population of about 94 million people, more than 90% of the population are Christians. Between 5 to 10 percent make up Filipino Muslims, aboriginal and tribal groups. Animism, folk religion and shamanism still exist among some tribal communities.
Filipino (a de facto version of Tagalog) and English are the official languages of the country. Apart from Tagalog which is mainly spoken in Manila, there are as much as 171 other languages spoken in the Philippines. Some of these languages are Cebuano, IIokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bicolano and Pangasinan.
The climate throughout the country is tropical with the best time for travel being the first half of the year, from January to May and during the cool months of November to February. The months between July and September are typhoons periods. Filipinos are known to be fun-loving people and there are fiestas celebrated practically every day throughout the islands. The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP).
The country consists of 120 cities categorized into 3 major island groups.
The northern most island group - Home to the capital Metro Manila and the regions of IIlocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaro, Bicol and Cordillera Administrative Region.
The central island groups – Home to the regions of Negros, Panay, Guimaras, Cebu, Bohol Siquijor, Biliran, Samar and Leyte.
The southernmost island group – Home to the regions of Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The heart and soul of the country, its rich in history and heritage. Stop by the National Museum, Chinatown, Ocean Park, Basilica of San Sebastian and more.
Nightlife in Manila:
Party out in Roxas Boulevard and Baywalk in Malate, a district in the capital filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs.
The Old Walled Settlement of Intramuros:
With three-mile-long circuit of massive stone walls and fortifications that almost completely surrounds the entire district; this historic city was built by the Spanish in 1571. Visit the Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, San Agustín Church and the ruins of Baluarte de San Diego while there.
Witness the Ati-Atihan Festival:
Taking place between January 16-22 in Kailbo, Aklan, this is this most popular festival celebrating Sto Niño with colourful costumes and distinctive dance beats.
Go Diving at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tubbataha Reef:
Home to some of the best wreck diving sites in the world, the Philippines is known for its high density of coral species.
Swim with gentle giants of the sea:
Go Snorkelling and interact with whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon.
Discover the super rapids of the Philippines:
White water and kayaking action is mainly found in half a dozen rivers in the Visayas and Mindanao. Famous spots are the Bubunawan/Cagayan de Oro River in Misamis Oriental, Tibiao River in Panay, Calbiga River in Samar and the Chico River in Tuguegarao.
Surf at La Union:
Located on the northwest coast of Luzon, four hours north of Manila beginner surfers will find ideal conditions with gentle beach breaks. Those seeking the extreme edge can find longer and bigger waves at Baler and Infanta in Quezon.
The wind patterns of the Amihan draws sailors from all over Asia. Warm weather and a steady 12-30 knot winds creates ideal sailing conditions. Do this at Caliraya in Quezon, Boracay in Aklan, Anilao in Batangas and Subic Bay in Zambales.
Go caving in Sagada:
Located in the mountain province of Luzon, check out the Mission Compound, Kiltepan Rice Terraces, Echo Valley Cliffs and Hanging Coffins, Sumaging (the Big Cave), Bokong and Bomod-ok Waterfalls, Burial Cave, Mount Ampakaw and the Underground River.
Home to two thousand year old rice terraces built by local native folk called the Ifugao.
Go shopping in Manila, Makati, Cebu and Davao:
Find everything and anything from designer western brands to ethnic handicrafts, clothes and jewellery.
Take a ride in a Jeepney:
The cheapest and fastest way to get around the city, this transportation is made from US Military Jeeps left over from World War II.
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