This article provides an overview of the Philippines for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Official name: Republic of the Philippines
- Capital: Manila
- Geography: 7,641 islands
- Land Area: 343, 448 sq km
- Population (2015): 100,981,437
- Head of Government (Since 30 June 2016 ): President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
- National Language: Filipino
- Currency: Peso
- GDP (2017): US$ 329.716 billion
- GDP per capita (2017): US$ 3,102.362
The Philippines, an island country in Southeast Asia, is an archipelago made up of 7,641 islands located about 800 km off the coast of Vietnam. The archipelago is bounded by the Philippine Sea to the east, the Celebes Sea to the south, the Sulu Sea to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the west and north. The country is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Manila is the capital city of the Philippines while Quezon City is its most-populous city. Both are part of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), located in Luzon, the largest island. Other major cities in the Philippines (according to population) include Davao City, Caloocan, Cebu City, Zamboanga City, Taguig, Antipolo, Pasig and Cagayan de Oro.
The Philippine economy recorded a 6.5 percent growth in the second quarter of 2017, and was reported to have overtaken Vietnam’s 6.2 percent growth and Indonesia’s 5 percent growth. Among major economic sectors, the industry sector recorded the fastest growth of 7.3 percent followed by agriculture at 6.3 percent and services at 6.1 percent. The Philippines was ranked as the world’s 10th fastest growing economy in 2017.
The four industries that are expected to contribute to the economy’s growth in the next few years are construction, tourism, manufacturing and services. With the government’s focus on infrastructure, local and international construction firms are likely to benefit from an increase in opportunities and projects in the Philippines. Within the manufacturing industry, petroleum, transport equipment, beverage industries, and food are the top contributors to economic growth.
The tourism industry is one of the country’s fastest-growing industries, due to an increasing number of tourist arrivals to the country. In 2016, the largest improvement in services was the education sector, which grew to 7.5 percent, followed by hotels and restaurants (6.2 percent) and recreation (5.1 percent).
Foreign Trade and Investment
In 2017 , the country’s total external trade in goods was US$75.586 billion, expanding by 15.3 percent from US$65.579 billion in 2016. Total import payments went up by 14.3 percent and total export receipts grew by 16.6 percent. Electronic products continued to be the top earner in 2017, comprising 49.8 percent share of total exports. Manufactured goods, and machinery and transport equipment were second and third, contributing 6.9 percent and 6.5 percent respectively to total export receipts.
Electronic products remained the top imported commodity in 2017, accounting for 25 percent of total import bill. Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials ranked second, comprising 11.5 percent of total imports, while transport equipment was third with a 10.5 percent share.
China was the country’s top trading partner during the first semester with a total trade worth US$11.355 billion or 15 percent of the total trade. Japan was the country’s second largest trading partner, accounting for a total trade worth US$10.768 billion or 14.2 percent of the country’s total trade, and the United States was third accounting for 10.6 percent or US$8.021 billion total trade.
The Philippines is described as a “safe and fun destination” for tourists. The Philippines Department of Tourism’s tagline is: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The country has many touristic offerings, including natural wonders; historical landmarks; culture and tradition; arts and crafts; shopping; and recreation and entertainment. Tourism activities thrive in the country’s different regions, each with its own unique destinations and products.
For the month of May 2017, visitor arrivals reached a total of 532,757, an increase of 19.6 percent compared with the May 2016 visitor count of 445,449. This positive growth in arrivals can be attributed to aggressive marketing efforts as well as international events, such as the ASEAN@50 meetings, held in the country.