Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A hidden paradise called the Isla De Gigantes Islands is Heaven for all those who set foot on it.

Philippines, an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, is situated above the equator in South-east Asia. Philippines is spread over an expanse of 300,000 square kilometres. The islands comprising the country are surrounded by the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea.

Out of the 7,107 islands of the country, Luzon is the largest island. The capital city of Philippines, Manila is located on the island of Luzon. At a length of 36,289 kilometres, the country has the fifth longest coastline in the world.

The country, which is bordered by Vietnam in the east and Sabah & Borneo in the north, is a rugged land of mountains, plains, rivers, valleys, waterfalls and volcanoes. Mt. Apo at 2,954 metres is the highest mountain in the country. It is located on the island of Mindanao. Philippine Trench at 10,057 metres below sea level is the deepest point in the Philippines and the third deepest point in the world.

Cagayan River in northern Luzon is the longest river in the Philippines. Further, the largest lake in the Philippines is Laguna de Bay. Owing to its rich mineral deposits, the country ranks as the second-biggest geothermal producer in the world.

The rainforests and coastlines of the country make it an abode to nearly 1,100 land vertebrate, 100 mammal and 170 bird species. With over 2,400 fish species and 500 species of coral, the country has gained a prominent position in the Coral Triangle.

The country was once a part of the Asian mainland. The early inhabitants of the country were Negritos and Indons. It is believed that these early immigrants had crossed the land bridges from the Asian mainland to enter the country. Thereafter, Indonesians and Malay migrants travelled to the country via sea.

Archaeological evidence states that before 1500, Filipinos were involved in bilateral trade relations with the Arabs and Chinese. Owing to these relations, Islam flourished on the Mindanao and Sulu islands in the 14th century.

In 1521, The archipelago was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan. The country was named after King Philip II of Spain, who laid claim on it post its discovery. A Spanish government was established by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. Post this,  Philippines came under the colonial rule of Spain. The Spaniards ruled the country for 333 years.

The country became independent from Spanish colonial rule in 1898. From 1900 to 1946, the country was ruled by the Americans. During the Second World War, the country came under a brief rule of the Japanese. Phillipines gained complete independence and hosted its national flag in Manila in 1946.

Due to the historical complexity of the country, the culture of Philippines is strongly influenced by Malay, Spanish, American and other Asian cultures. The native population of the country is the Filipinos. The Filipinos are descendants of the traditional Malay race. The population has also been mixed with Chinese, Arab, Spanish and American aborigines.

Christianity is the major religion of the country. The country is home to both Roman Catholics and Protestants. Apart from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are the other religions followed in the country. The official language of the country is Filipino.

Every province in Philippines organises several festivals and events throughout the year, which attract tourists from around the world. These include Ati-Atihan Festival & Procession of the Black Nazarene in January, Moriones Festival in March, Flores de Mayo in May and Pagoda-Sa-Wawa festival in July. All these festivals celebrate the religious beliefs of the medley of population inhabiting the country.

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