The Philippines is known for having an abundance of beautiful beaches and delicious fruit. The collection of islands is located in Southeast Asia and was named after King Philip II of Spain.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the Philippines.
1. The Philippines is made up of 7,641 islands, making it one of the largest archipelagos in the world. But more than 5,000 of the islands remain unnamed on most international maps.
2. The Philippines is the only Asian nation that is predominantly Christian. While many of its Southeast Asian neighbors practice Buddhism, 86 percent of the Filipino population is Roman Catholic.
3. An iconic symbol of the country is the jeepney, the colorfully painted buses with roots dating to World War II and the U.S. military's jeeps. But with growing pollution concerns, the classic jeepney may soon be replaced with more efficient electric vehicles.
4. The Philippines is one of the world's largest producers of coconuts. Mangosteens, papayas and bananas can also be found there.
5. The world's largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in the Palawan Sea. The 75-pound pearl is valued at $100 million.
6. This Southeast Asian country is the 13th-most populous country in the world, home to more than 108 million people.
7. The Philippines Basketball Association, founded in 1975, was Asia's first basketball league. In addition to being huge basketball fans, many Filipinos are also lovers of boxing.
8. The Philippines is the largest supplier of nurses worldwide. Partially due to the limited job opportunities in the country, many citizens seek work abroad.
BEFORE YOU GO
When to go
The high season for tourism is December to April. The Philippines is a tropical country, and the hotter, drier months (85 degrees F and up) are March through June. July through October brings the potential for typhoons; the “cooler” season runs from November to February, when it remains at around 78 degrees F. The further south you go, the more humid the weather gets, and rain showers are likely regardless of the season.
Sustainable travel tip: Don’t purchase travel-sized toiletries in plastic bottles. Instead, use refillable containers or look for packaging-free alternatives, like shampoo bars. You can also find multi-use products, like Castile soaps, that can be used for washing your hair, body, and even clothing.
What to pack
Bring lightweight, comfortable clothing (it can be casual) and make sure to pack a swimsuit if you plan on heading to the beach or doing any boating or diving. You’ll want to have a pair of sunglasses as well as rain gear, and make sure to bring comfortable shoes like sneakers or sandals. A waterproof bag can be helpful for keeping electronics, like phones and cameras, dry. Sunscreen and a mosquito repellent that contains DEET are must-bring items.
Sustainable travel tip:
It always helps to bring your own reusable bag or bag-for-life along with your backpack to prevent additional plastic waste.
Most people traveling to the Philippines from the U.S. will probably fly into Manila’s NAIA airport or the more recently opened Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which was named the Asia-Pacific Medium Airport of the Year in the CAPA 2018 Asia Aviation Awards for Excellence.
If you want to go to multiple islands, you can find flights that connect to smaller airports throughout the Philippines. Traveling by boat is also an option when getting to many of the islands in the region. If you’re in one of the major cities, “jeepneys” — small and colorful buses — are a popular way to get around.
The Philippine Peso is the official currency of the Philippines. Each peso consists of 100 centavos. Bills and coins are used in the Philippines. It’s easy to exchange money at a shopping mall, and traveler’s checks are usually accepted for money exchange. ATMs are readily available in the major cities, but if you’re traveling to smaller islands or more remote areas, it’s a good idea to stock up on cash before your arrival. Credit cards are accepted in the bigger cities and more populated beach areas. Keep your small change for paying jeepney drivers.
Sustainable travel tip:
Consider donating your leftover currency at the end of your trip to a local charity dedicated to cleaning beaches or preserving wildlife.
Language and culture
Filipino and English are the official languages of the Philippines — but the Philippines is an ethnically diverse country (and was a Spanish colony for 300 years), so more than 150 languages are spoken in the region. Tagalog is a common dialect.
The dominant religion in the Philippines is Catholicism, and churches abound throughout the country. The older generations in the Philippines tend to be quite religious.