The problem of being an archipelago
More than 7,000 islands, but two out of three are so small that they are unnamed and uninhabited. Being an archipelago is not an advantage for the Philippines: distances, difficulties in connections, variety of populations, languages, religions, economies are added to the imbalances produced by a long colonization and intense demographic growth. In this context, modernization is advancing, but with difficulty
Mountains and volcanoes
At the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the Philippine archipelago is strongly marked by volcanic phenomena and earthquakes and is largely mountainous (Mount Apo, 2,954 m, is the highest peak). Being almost at the same distance from the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, it has a hot and humid climate, influenced by the monsoons: rainfall is very strong, and typhoons are very frequent.
The northernmost island, Luzon, is the largest and most populous; there are the capital Manila (10,350,000 residents with the suburbs) and various other cities, but also wide and intensely cultivated plains (rice, corn, tropical fruit).
The country has a lot of mineral riches and a modern industry that exports electronic components and computers; but the economy is affected by the long colonial past and is not balanced. The population grows rapidly and feeds a strong emigration: at least 6 million Filipinos work abroad (many in Italy) precisely because the conditions in the country are not yet satisfactory, especially due to the clear social disparities.
A country of emigrants
Landed in the aftermath of Magellan ‘s expedition in 1521, the Spaniards met no resistance in the occupation of the Philippines except in the south of the archipelago where they were rejected by the Muslim population, never completely subjected. The Spanish domination lasted over three centuries influencing the economic, cultural and social developments of the country, which was directed towards a forced Hispanization. The Catholic Church assumed an important economic and political role in the work of colonization, undertaking a widespread evangelization that rooted Catholicism in the country.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 marked the end of the Spanish domination and the transition to the United States of the archipelago, where a strong independence movement had been developing. If on the one hand the United States granted a gradual internal autonomy, on the other they heavily conditioned the economic life of the archipelago, which at the end of the Second World War – which cost the Filipinos almost a million victims – proclaimed its independence (1946). While the living conditions of the peasants in the country worsened and the guerrillas of the Communist-inspired Huk movement flared up, the political groups in power were promoting clientelism and corruption.
In 1973, at the end of his second term, the President of the Republic Ferdinand Marcos established a personal dictatorship in the country which on the international level confirmed the close friendship with the United States but, on the internal level, after the killing of the leader of the United States. ‘liberal opposition Benigno Aquino (1983), saw the explosion of popular protest and part of the armed forces. After Marcos was forced to leave the country, power was taken over by the murdered leader’s widow, Cory Aquino. On the threshold of the new millennium, political instability still threatened the development of the country where, between 2004 and 2005, there were repeated clashes between Muslim separatists and the army.