Cruising to the Philippines


The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected President and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during WWII, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control.

On 4 July 1946 the Philippines attained their independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands.

Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and widespread demonstrations led to his ouster. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from armed communist insurgencies and from Muslim separatists in the south.


Location: Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 13 00 N, 122 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 300,000 sq km


36,289 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 nm from coastline as defined by 1898 treaty; since late 1970s has also claimed polygonal-shaped area in South China Sea up to 285 nm in breadth
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: to depth of exploitation


Tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October)


Mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Philippine Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Apo 2,954 m


The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided in part by its high level of annual remittances from overseas workers, and no sustained runup in asset prices or foreign borrowing prior to the crisis. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expanded by 2.4% in 1999, and 4.4% in 2000, but slowed to 3.2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, an export slump, and political and security concerns.

GDP growth accelerated to about 5% between 2002 and 2005 reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in the alleviation of poverty given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. The Philippines also faces higher oil prices, higher interest rates on its dollar borrowings, and higher inflation. Fiscal constraints limit Manila's ability to finance infrastructure and social spending.

The Philippines' consistently large budget deficit has produced a high debt level, and this situation has forced Manila to spend a large portion of the national government budget on debt service. Large unprofitable public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, contribute to the government's debt because of slow progress on privatization. Credit rating agencies have at times expressed concern about the Philippines' ability to service the debt, though central bank reserves appear adequate and large remittance inflows appear stable.

The implementation of the expanded Value Added Tax (VAT) in November 2005 boosted confidence in the government's fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the peso, which gained 5.7 percent year-on-year, making it East Asia's best performing currency in 2005. Investors and credit rating institutions will continue to look for effective implementation of the new VAT and continued improvement in the government's overall fiscal capacity in the coming year.


Airports: 256 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 83
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 173
Heliports: 2 (2005)
Pipelines: gas 565 km; oil 135 km; refined products 100 km (2004)
Railways: total: 897 km
Roadways: total: 200,037 km


3,219 km (limited to vessels with draft less than 1.5 m) (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 413 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,740,008 GRT/6,595,554 DWT
By type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 83, cargo 116, chemical tanker 13, container 7, liquefied gas 6, livestock carrier 17, passenger 10, passenger/cargo 72, petroleum tanker 47, refrigerated cargo 15, roll on/roll off 14, vehicle carrier 12
foreign-owned: 67 (Canada 1, Germany 2, Greece 7, Hong Kong 2, India 1, Japan 25, Malaysia 1, Netherlands 20, Taiwan 2, UAE 2, US 4)
Registered in other countries: 45 (Australia 1, The Bahamas 1, Cambodia 1, Cayman Islands 1, Comoros 1, Cyprus 2, Hong Kong 15, Indonesia 1, Panama 17, Singapore 3, unknown 2) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iligan, Iloilo, Manila, Surigao    

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Brunei - Burma - Cambodia - China - East Timor - Hong Kong - Indonesia - Japan - Macau - Malaysia - North Korea -Philippines - Russia - Singapore - South Korea - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam

Further Reading

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