About Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,640 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It spans an area of 120,000 square miles, with maritime borders including the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, and Celebes Sea. It is located in what is called the “Ring of Fire,” making it susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. With a population of 110.8 million, it is the 13th most populous country in the world. Manila, the capital and one of the most densely populated cities in the world, is home to 14.6 million people. The Philippines is ethnically diverse: Tagalog, Bisaya/Binisaya, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, Bikol, and Waray are the predominant ethnic groups. Languages spoken include the official languages of Filipino and English, in addition to eight other common dialects: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan. The majority of the Filipino population is Roman Catholic, in contrast to many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, which practice Buddhism.

A former colony of Spain, the Philippines achieved independence in 1946. Since then, it has been identified as an emerging economy that is rapidly growing. The country is largely agricultural and is one of the largest producers of coconuts and coconut products in the world. Other major crops include sugarcane, rice, bananas, corn, and pineapples. However, the Philippines is moving toward becoming a strong industrial and manufacturing power. With greater emphasis on education at the end of the 20th century, the Philippines established reputable public school and university systems. As a result, the country has some of the highest literacy rates in Asia. The Philippines is also supported by one of the largest emigrant populations in the world: over 2.2 million people whose remittances make up a significant portion of the economy.

Despite being on a path toward development, the Philippines has many health challenges. Top causes of death include ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, chronic kidney disease, tuberculosis, diabetes, neonatal disorders, hypertensive heart disease, COPD, and interpersonal violence. Mortality caused by non-communicable diseases has increased between 2009 and 2019, particularly chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertensive heart disease. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high blood pressure, malnutrition, dietary risks, air pollution, high fasting plasma glucose, high body-mass index, kidney dysfunction, alcohol and tobacco use, and high LDL.

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