Friday, November 20, 2009

Geography & Facts of the Pilipinas

The Pilipinas nation is comprised of 7,107 islands that extend 1,143 miles from north to south in the Pacific, 621 miles southeast of the China coast and 7,330 west of mainland USA. Only about 2,000 of those islands are inhabited while only 500 are larger than one square kilometer. Basically, the country is divided into 3 main island groups: Luzon in the north third, the Visayas in the middle, and Mindanao in the southern third. According to the latest census (2000) The total population of the nation is 76.5-million with over half that number living in the Luzon island group and 12 Million living in the city of Manila, alone.Further, the country is divided into 72 provinces, 61 chartered cities, and thousands of small towns and communities called barengays. Throughout the island nation there are some 111 linguistic, cultural and racial groups. Although the national language is Filipino based on Tagalog -- the dialect of the Tagalog people of the Manila and South Luzon region -- there are another 70 languages and dialects belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian family of tongues spoken throughout the country. But English is the language of education and commerce and is taught from grade school through high school and college.

Our family lives in the Visayas region in the south-central [central Visayas] part of the country -- mostly a resort area renowned for its snorkeling & diving -- and our relatives all speak Visaysan among themselves. We will be moving to this same general area a year from this January [in January 2011]

In its history, the Philippines have been ruled-over and influenced by the Spanish for over 300 years and by the Americans for 48 years. There is also evidence of early Malay and Chinese influence. As a result of its varied history, Philippine people, cuisine, language, culture and customs are all a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and American and it is often joked that Filipinos are Malay in Family matters, Spanish in Love, Chinese in Business, and American in Ambition -- or that their culture is a result of over 300 years living in a convent and nearly 50 years of living in Hollywood!

The monetary unit of the Philippines is the piso, [peso] divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any hotel, most large department stores and all malls, banks, and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines throughout most communities. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Master Cards, and American Express are all accepted in most major establishments. Currently, one US dollar [USD] can be exchanged for about 45 Philippine piso [PHP].

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