The Philippines is a country in Asia located far out in the South China Sea. But in many ways, it’s far different than its southeast Asian neighbors where so many people travel and, in my opinion, it’s one of the most complex and unique countries in the world – and definitely worth a visit!

In fact, when people ask me what my favorite Latin American country in the world is (no one really ever asks me that), my response is, “The Philippines” as there are so many more cultural influences from Spain and the U.S. than traditional Asian nations.

But if you get to the right spots, the islands, beaches, waterfalls, caves, and other natural wonders in the Philippines are unequ aled around the world!

Here is your profile on the facts you need to know about the Philippines:

Geography and location:
The Philippines is an archipelago made up of roughly 7,500 islands (they’ve recently reclassified up from 7,100+ islands) in southeast Asia.

While there are more than 7,000 islands in the country, the vast majority of people live on only 11 of them. Currently, there are an estimated 106,000,000 citizens living in the Philippines, making it the 12th most populous country on earth despite its relatively small land mass of 115,831 square miles.

Official name:
Republic of the Philippines. It’s commonly referred to as “The Philippines,” making it one of the only post-colonial nations in the world that’s kept the “The” before its name.

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines.

Natural disasters:
The country is prone to natural disasters. In fact, there are 20 active volcanoes in the Philippines, and earthquakes and terribly devastating typhoons strike it frequently.

Believe it or not, there have been 175 languages spoken in the Philippines, ad 171 of them are still “living” languages! But the vast majority of people speak Filipino/Tagalog, or Cebuano/Visayan, and English is universally taught in schools.

Due to Spanish colonial rule, about 80% of the Philippines is Roman Catholic, 90% Catholic, and 92% or so Christian. There is also a significant Islamic population in certain parts of the country, but Buddhism isn’t popular like in other Asian nations.

The Philippine Piso (PHP) is the monetary denomination, with approximately 50 Pesos = $1 USD. U.S. dollars are not accepted or used.

The Philippines is a popular tourist destination for foreigner vacationers, Asian neighbors, and even Filipinos who love to venture about in their own country. Some of the major tourist hot spots include the islands of Boracay, Cebu, Palawan, and others.

The Philippines official governance is a Unitary presidential constitutional republic. The current political structure has many influences from the U.S political system due to the American occupation/patronage before, during, and shortly after World War II.

The current President of the Philippines is controversial strongman Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte.

Time zone:

Technically, Filipinos drive on the right side of the road, although they commonly take over the middle of the road, drive on the wrong side, or even roll up onto the sidewalk just to beat traffic. In fact, traffic in Manila, Cebu and many cities is some of the most congested and chaotic you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Calling code and Internet:
Smart and Globe are the two enormous telecommunications and Internet companies in the Philippines.
Be warned that telecommunications in the Philippines is a confusing and frustrating nightmare (like many aspects of daily life!)