Statsraad Lehmkuhl visits Manila October 12-15 2022
The Philippines is an island nation consisting of around 7,600 islands, most of them small and uninhabited. A third of the 109 million inhabitants live on the island of Luzon, in the metropolis of Manila.
People have lived in the Philippines for at least 50,000 years. When the Spanish took control of the archipelago in 1565, the inhabitants had been trading both with China and other island states in the Pacific for hundreds of years.
Arab traders brought Islam to the islands as early as the 14th century.
The Philippines was named after the Spanish king Philip the Second, and kept the name even after the Spanish had to sell the Philippines to the United States after losing the Spanish-American War in 1898. But the Filipinos did not want to be ruled from abroad anymore, and declared themselves independent. This led to a conflict with the United States, which lasted until 1935. Then the Philippines was promised independence with a transition period of ten years.
The Second World War got in the way, Japan occupied the islands, and the Philippines became an independent country in 1946.
In the Philippines, 182 different languages are spoken today, with Filipino and English as the two official languages.
The economy in the Philippines has undergone a rapid transition, from agriculture and trade to industry and tourism. Manila is a very popular destination for tourists.
Ferdinand Marcos was president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, and much of the modern Philippines we see today was built under his rule. In his recent years Marcos was controversial, he declared martial law, and eventually had to flee the country.
Now his son, Bongbong Marcos, is president, democratically elected in 2022.
Manila was founded by the Spanish and it quickly grew into an important trading city. The city is located in the southeast of Luzon, well protected from the ocean inside Manila Bay. The port is the largest in the Philippines. The Pasig River flows into Manila Bay, dividing the city into a northern and a southern part.
Large parts of Manila were destroyed during World War II. First when the Japanese conquered the country in 1942, and then when the USA recaptured the islands in 1945. More than 100,000 civilian Filipinos were killed. The capital was moved to Quezon a little further north on the island, and Manila did not become capital again until 1976.
The Philippines is located in a seismically active area, and many of the mountains, some of them over 2,000 meters high, are volcanoes. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo had a massive eruption. The ash cloud reached 40 kilometers into the atmosphere, and ash settled in thick layers over farmland and buildings. Over 800 people were killed when the houses they were sheltering in collapsed from the weight.
The Philippines is also ravaged by typhoons. Huge amounts of rainfall, storm surges and strong winds cause a lot of damage every year. On average, 8-9 typhoons hit the country annually, most between July and October.
The Philippines has a rich flora and fauna, with around a hundred species of mammals and over 240 species of birds found nowhere else. In the last ten years alone, 16 new species of mammals have been discovered. Fringing the islands are large coral reefs, where at least 2,400 different species of fish live.
The archipelago has a tropical coastal climate. It is hot and dry between March and May, wet from June to November, and slightly cooler and dry from December to February. The amount of precipitation varies greatly, from 1000 millimeters in the driest valleys to up to 5000 millimeters in the east in the mountains. If a typhoon hits, it can rain 2,000 millimeters in a few days.
Normal maximum temperature in October: 31.4 ℃
Normal rainfall in October: 221 mm