The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 square miles. The main island groups are Luzon, Mindoro, the Visayas, Palawan and Mindanao. The country’s capital is Manila, in Luzon.
The Philippines is part of the “Coral Triangle”, the most biologically diverse underwater ecosystem on earth. Exceptional diving can be found in and around Puerto Galera (on the island of Mindoro), Dumaguete (on Negros Oriental in the Visayas), Boracay (the Visayas) and Anilao (Southern Luzon).
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila is the premier gateway. The international airport and domestic airport are located in separate terminals. Cebu Mactan International Airport is another means of entering the country. It is located in the Visayas, closer to Boracay and Dumaguete.
The two official languages are Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.
The Philippines’ monetary unit is the Peso. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotel, most large department stores, banks, and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Master Card, and American Express are widely accepted.
The time zone of the Philippines is GMT +8 hours. The time difference is as follows: Los Angeles and San Francisco (+16 hours), New York (+13 hours), Chicago (+12 hours).