The Philippines lay claim to about 7,641 islands in the Philippine archipelago. Only about 2,000 islands have people, and the total population of the Republic is estimated at 100 million. The islands fall into three geographical divisions: Luzon, Mindanao, and the Visayas. The Philippines has maritime borders with Indonesia, Taiwan, Palau, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Luzon ranks as the Philippine’s most populous and largest island. Luzon lies in the archipelago’s northern part and occupies an area of 42,458 square miles. It is the 15th largest island on earth. The island borders the Philippine Sea to its east, the South China Sea to its west, and the Luzon Strait to its north. Luzon is divided into the Southern, Northern, and Central Regions and the National Capital Region. It is home to several mountain ranges such as the Cordillera Mountain Range, Sierra Madre, and the Zambales Mountains as well as lakes, peninsulas, plains, rivers, gulfs, and bays. Some of the surrounding islands are part of Luzon including Mindoro and Romblon. Metro Manila, which is situated in Luzon, serves as the country’s economic and financial hub. Industry, agriculture, and tourism are the primary economic activities in the island. An estimated 53,336,134 inhabitants live in Luzon with the major ethnicities represented being Kapampangans, Sambals, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, Visayans, and Bicolanos.
The island of Mindanao occupies an area of 37,657 square miles. Most of the island’s landscape is mountainous, and it has the nation’s tallest mountain, Mount Apo, at 9,692 feet above sea level. Mindanao borders the Mindanao Sea to its north, the Philippine Sea to its east, the Sulu Sea to its west, and the Celebes Sea to its south. The larger Mindanao island group consists of islands such as Sulu, Samal, Basilan, and Dinagat. An estimated 21,968,174 people live in Mindanao, and 1,632,991 of them are concentrated in Davao City. Mindanao accounts for 14% of the nation’s GDP and agriculture, fishing, industry, service, and forestry are its main economic sectors.
Samar Island occupies an area of 5,185 square miles in the Central Philippines. It borders the five water bodies of Samar Sea, San Juanico Strait, Leyte Gulf, Philippine Sea, and San Bernardin Strait. The coastal parts of Samar feature low rolling hills and flatlands while the inner regions are mountainous. Samar is home to 1,751,267 inhabitants with a population density of 337.7 people per square mile. The Waray-Waray and Cebuano languages are the most widely spoken tongues in Samar. Most of the island’s residents rely on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods.
The island of Negros was established on May 29, 2015, and it occupies an area of 5,139 square miles. Negros is home to 4,414,131 people, most of whom are Negrenses. Negros lies adjacent to the Visayan Sea, Bohol Sea, Sulu Sea, Guimaras Strait, Panay Gulf, and Tañon Strait. The island’s highest peak is the Kanlaon Volcano which is active. Volcanic activity in the island is harnessed to generate electricity. The island is made up of the Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces and the city of Bacolod. The production of sugar is the island’s major economic activity in addition to the production of hardwood, cotton, and gamefowl breeding.
Tourism In The Philippine Islands
The country’s numerous islands provide a rich biodiversity for the flora and fauna of the region. In 2012 alone, 4.27 million tourists arrived in the country. The islands are home to beaches, mountains, and rainforests and they also have some of the world’s most popular diving spots. A rich cultural and historical heritage also thrives in the many islands of the Philippine archipelago.