The Philippines is a sovereign country in Southeast Asia, located in the Pacific Ocean. The country is actually a large archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, of which around 2,000 are inhabited. The Philippines climate is a tropical rainforest or monsoon climate with hot and humid weather and large amounts of rainfall, punctuated by monsoons in season. Year-round across the entire country the average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius, with temperatures typically ranging 5 degrees on either side. While the temperature remains more or less constant, the seasons are characterised only by the amount of rainfall each region receives.
The corruption and greed of President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda are iconic of The Philippines’ recent history. When the couple fled the country in 1986, they left behind them a treasure trove of possessions, including the trappings of the lavish lifestyle Imelda Marcos was famous for: more than 500 gowns, 1,000 handbags, 1,000 pairs of shoes, and 15 mink coats.
Although many of the country’s positions have unsavoury reputations, the same definitely can’t be said for the general population, as The Philippines is also known for its welcoming, friendly, and fun-loving people.
Ancient Filipinos are believed to be Taiwanese people who migrated around six thousand years ago. Many migrants remained isolated on smaller islands, but on larger islands, settlements traded with neighbouring countries and became prosperous.
In 1521 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed The Philippines in the name of the Spanish empire, and the first Hispanic settlements were established around 50 years later.
After the Spanish-American war, The Philippines were ceded to the US. The Philippines had recently attempted to declare independence; however this was not recognised by the US, leading to the Philippine-American war, which quelled the Filipino rebellion. After World War II and Japanese invasion, The Philippines finally gained its independence, and became a founding member of the UN.
However, while the following few decades were peaceful, the election of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1965 ushered in subsequent decades of political repression and poverty, while Marcos was accused of corruption and embezzling. After an election in 1986, Marcos fled the country, leaving the country to its new president, Corazon Aquino, who had many problems to attend to, including widespread government corruption and high national debt. The Philippines has continued to experience periods of both rapid economic growth and political instability.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, with a huge array of plants and animals, and a very high proportion of endemic and native animals which are found nowhere else in the world, including 100 mammals and 170 birds. Native animals include species such as the palm civet cat, the cloud rat, and the Philippine tarsier, a tiny primate with large, saucer-shaped eyes.
Native plants include many species of orchid—including several that are found only in the rainforests of The Philippines—and several of rafflesia, a kind of parasitic plant that has no roots, stems, or leaves of its own, but has a kind of spreading organ that infiltrates other plants to draw out their nutrients. Rafflesia is distinctive also for its foul odour, which strongly resembles rotting flesh, earning it the nickname of the “corpse flower”.
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