Philippine Islands, a large insular group forming a northern section of the Eastern Archipelago, from which it is separated by the two profound abysses of the Sulu (Mindoro) and Celebes Seas, 2000 to 4000 fathoms deep. It is washed on the east side by the Pacific Ocean and on the northwest by the China Sea, lies in 4° - 21° N. lat. and 117° - 127° E. long., and comprises a vast aggregate of over 2000 islands of all sizes, ranging from mere rocks and reefs to Luzon and Mindanao, the former rather more, the latter somewhat less, than 40,000 sq. m. in area. The other chief members of the group, collectively called Visayas, are Mindoro, 9000 sq. m.; Palawan (Paragua), 5500; Samar, 5000; Panay, 4500; Negros, 4300; Leyte, 3000; Cebu and Bohol, both 1500; and Masbate, 1200. The total area is 116,000; the pop. is variously estimated at from 7,500,000 to 9,500,000. The archipelago is disposed nearly due north and south, and is essentially mountainous and volcanic. Two main ridges ramify through the group, and comprise several volcanoes; the highest peak being Apo in the SE. of Mindanao (10,400 feet). The underground forces are still active, and reveal themselves by tremendous eruptions, and especially by earthquakes, which are almost continuous. Manilla was nearly destroyed by the earthquake of 1863. Cyclones, here called typhoons, range as far south as about 10° N. lat. Thanks to the general elevation of the land and the prevailing sea-breezes, the climate, although moist and hot, is less insalubrious than that of most tropical lands. The temperature varies from about 77° F. in December to 86° F. in May. The rainfall is 68 to 70 inches. The magnificent primeval forests contain dye-woods, hard-grained timbers, and medicinal and other useful plants. On the plantations are grown rice, maize, sugar-cane, cotton, coffee, and tobacco (second only to that of Cuba). The largest wild mammal is the buffalo, and next to it the gibbon; there are several other species of apes and lemurs, antelopes and deer. The carni-vora are chiefly represented by several species of civet, the insectivora by the porcupine. The only dangerous animals are the crocodile, snakes, and some other reptiles. Birds are very numerous, of the gallinacean family especially. Insects are very various; and the fresh and marine waters abound in fishes, turtles, molluscs, and sponges. Of minerals the most widely diffused are coal and iron; copper also occurs, as well as gold, lead, sulphur, cinnabar, quicksilver, alum, besides jasper, marble, and fine building stones. The original inhabitants of the Philippines were undoubtedly the Negritos (Atas, Itas), now reduced to a few isolated groups numbering altogether less than 20,000. Half-caste Negrito communities are extremely numerous, the indigenous element having amalgamated with the intruding Indonesian and Malay peoples. The Indonesians (akin to the Polynesians) are mostly pagans, whereas nearly all the Malays are either Roman Catholics or Mohammedans. The Tagal and Visayan languages are the predominant types.
Discovered in 1521 by Magellan, who was killed here, the Philippines were officially annexed to Spain in 1569, and till 1898 remained an integral part of the Spanish dominion. A rebellion in 1896 went on till the Spanish-American war was begun in 1898. As a result of the war the islands were ceded to the United States (1898) on a payment of £4,000,000. Besides Manila (the capital; pop. 294,000) there are several other considerable towns - Banang (39,000), Lipa (38,000), San Miguel (35,000), Laoag (30,000), Cabaera (30,000), and San Carlos (27,000). The exports amount to £6,000,000 annually - chiefly of sugar, hemp, tobacco, and copra. There is a submarine cable to Hongkong. See works by Sir J. Bowring (1851), Foreman (1899), Robinson (N.Y. 1901), and Blair and Robertson (55 vols. 1903 et seq.).