The Philippines is an archipelago in South-East Asia of more than seven thousand islands located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea at the very eastern edge of Asia.
Many wonderful beaches are just part of one of the world’s longest coastlines and it takes about 20 years to spend a day on every island. Since Spanish colonial times, the country has been Asia’s largest Catholic country. Over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino identity and the wonder that is the Philippines.
Manila is the capital of the Philippines and the nation’s center of education, business, and transportation. Metro Manila is the most populous metropolitan region composing the city of Manila and surrounding cities like Makati, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City and Taguig.
Manila has a reputation as a congested, polluted concrete jungle, and is often overlooked as a mere stopover for travelers aiming to reach other Philippine provinces or islands. To an extent this reputation is deserved, but Manila is nevertheless rapidly developing and has its own rich history and experiences to offer. The city is sprawling, bustling, and culturally complicated, with a colorful multi-cultural heritage and varied nightlife.
Metro Manila is the National Capital Region and the prime tourist destination in the Philippines. The metropolis is the Philippines’ center of commerce, education, and entertainment. It is located on the island of Luzon, bordered by the province of Bulacan on the north, Rizal on the east, Laguna on the south, Cavite on the southwest, and Manila Bay on the west. Though it is the smallest region in the country, Metro Manila is the most populous of the twelve defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world with a population of 16.3 million people.
The country is predominantly Christian, with strong Spanish and American influences that date back to its colonial days. Fiestas or cultural festivals abound in the country and each town has its own annual celebration, with some bigger and more famous than others. With its many islands, the country has an estimated 100+ different languages. Ten of which are considered most widely used.
Rice is a staple food in the country and no meal is considered complete without it. From the famous adobo (meat cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and other spices), to kare-kare(meat and vegetable stew flavoured with peanut butter), to dinuguan (meat stew simmered in pig’s blood), to bulalo (beef bone marrow soup), Filipino foods are a meat-lover’s delight. Seafood and vegetable-based dishes are also popular must-trys.
Getting into the Philippines
The country has three main groups of islands: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Travelling to the Philippines is most convenient through its main international airports in Manila and Cebu. Visitors from neighbours in Borneo (East Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia)sometimes enter by boat through the southern part of the country.
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