Manila. Population: 9.9 million (2005 metropolitan area).
Republic since 1935. Gained independence from the USA in 1946.
Head of state:
President Benigno Aquino III since 2010.
Head of government:
President Benigno Aquino since 2010.
220 volts (110 volts in Baguio) AC, 60Hz. 110 volts is available in most hotels. Flat and round two- and three-pin plugs are in use.
Composed of 7,107 islands and with a total coastline longer than that of the USA, it’s hardly surprising that many of the Philippines’ most stunning attractions can be found in or around the sea. The warm tropical waters are ideal for snorkeling or diving, with coral gardens teeming with beautiful marine life, while unspoiled stretches of fine white sand will seduce even the most beach-averse.
There’s much more, though. The archipelago’s jungles, mountains, volcanoes and caves are ripe for exploration. But there are also the more subtle pleasures of getting to grips with Filipino culture. This isn’t a country that stages dozens of phony ‘cultural shows’ for tourists; and the festivals (of which there are many) welcome outsiders with open arms but are predominantly aimed at locals. So it’s down to individual visitors to strike up conversations and discover a country where Catholic European traditions are entwined with a vibrant Asian culture.