Geography of the Philippines essay

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Geography and climate have always had very potent effects on culture. Geography, or the study of relationships between people and locations on Earth, very often shapes the way people live and interact with each other. Climate, or the prevailing weather patterns over time of a region, also has drastic effects on society and cultures, and these statements are especially true in the South East Asian nation of the Philippines.

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago, or chain of islands, located off the south-eastern coast of Asia. Consisting of over 7,000 volcanic islands with a total land area of nearly 300,000 square kilometers (approximately the size of Arizona), islands of the Philippines are predominantly mountainous except for densely populated coastal plains on larger islands. The country is located over the Philippine Trench, a plate tectonic boundary which forms part of the Ring of Fire (see Map #2). The Ring of Fire, a region closely associated with volcanic and earthquake activity, lends a heavy influence to volcanic activity on the islands of the Philippines (one such example is Mount Pinatubo, a very active volcano on the island of Luzon. See Map #1 for location of Luzon). The geography allows for some cultural diffusion, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity all reached the islands by the mid 117th century although there are still places that are extremely isolated to the point of having no electricity7 at all and primitive methods of life.

The climate of the Republic of the Philippines is a warm and moist one. Affected by a northeast monsoon from November to April and a southwest monsoon from May to October, warm winds and moderate rainfall dominate the climate patterns of the nation. Approximately nineteen percent of Filipino land is arable, the second most in the region of South East Asia. As shown in the "Arable Land" chart, the only country near the Philippines with more farmland is Thailand with over thirty percent arable land. The warm weather and moist monsoons allow for growth of the nation's main crops: sugar, and rice. Although only 19% of the land is farmable there is plenty forest and permanent crop space for exporting cash crops and lumber, as is shown in "Philippine Land Usage" pie chart. Forty-six percent of the archipelago is covered with forests for loggers to cut and sell at reasonable rates to give the economy a boost.

Social Issues

The Philippines have seen a steady increase in population over the last 40 years. Since 1960, when the population was over 27 million (see "Philippines Population Over Time" bar line chart), the nation has seen a steady increase of about 10 million citizens per year. In 2001, the population rose to over 82.8 million, an increase of over 20 million people in just over ten years, probably because of an increase in the abundance of jobs in the area of labor and services. Since labor costs were cut in 1992 due to a sluggish economy the population skyrocketed because people could now find jobs in factories and markets because of a foreign interest in hiring cheap laborers.

Over 95% of the Filipino population are of Malay decent, while the other five percent is mainly people of Chinese ethnicity, as is shown in the "Ethnic Demographic" pie chart. The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, followed by Protestant and Islam (see Religious Demographic" chart). All of the popular philosophies in the Philippines came as a result of cultural diffusion from other areas, there is a very small minority that practice native beliefs to the region.

The Philippines have a stable educational system, with free schooling for children ages 7-12 years and one of the highest literacy rates of all the nations in South East Asia. According to the chart titled "Literacy", the Philippines have a rate of literacy (94.6% among people over 15 years of age) challenged only by those of Thailand and Vietnam. Schooling is also mandatory for all children who are...
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