Philippines Guide

Philippines Guide

MABUHAY – Welcome to a visit to the Pearl of the Orient – the tropical paradise with its 7,107 islands, as the Republic of the Philippines, which has been independent since July 4, 1946, is called. With a population of 103 million people, the Southeast Asian island kingdom is the 12th most populous country in the world. Around 12 million Filipinos work and live abroad and make a decisive contribution to the development of their homeland with their money transfers.


The most eminent contemporary Filipino writer, Francisco Sionil José, once sarcastically remarked: “Filipinos spent nearly 350 years in the Spanish convent smug, half a century under Hollywood direction with a brief era under Japanese militarism. Our misfortune is that we are children too many mothers are. ” Protest and resistance are a noticeable constant in the history of the island kingdom – regardless of whether they were directed against foreign rule or local despotism.


The Philippine economy is still semi-feudal in many places. But in the midst of the glittering facades of the Makati banking and business district in the metropolis of Manila, business experts, politicians and technocrats are working to catch up with the successful economies in the neighboring countries. Despite economic growth, the number of the marginalized and poor has risen in recent years.

Everyday life

A cock crow, a long drawn out Baaaluuut, rattling radio music or the call of the muezzin in the south of the archipelago – these are the alternative wake-up calls in the early morning of every morning in the country. Balut – these are the legendary hatched duck eggs, which are freshly offered for sale early in the morning. The start of the day in the cities is even more noisy: Shrill music from worn-out loudspeakers or annoying horns from jeepneys that are hopelessly stuck in traffic jams mean that late risers are not comfortable in this country. After all, you have something to do..

Official name: Republic of the Philippines

Area: about 300,000 km²

Residents: 109 million (2020)

Growth of population: 1.57% per year (2017, estimated)

Seat of government: Quezon City (Capital: Manila)

Official language: Filipino and English

Regional languages: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon and others


Population, urban development, transport

Of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, fewer than 1,000 are inhabited. The larger islands are often characterized by mountain ranges and hill country running in a north-south direction, but this is due to the excessive logging and overexploitation in recent decades. The nature of ecologically significant primary forests was massively decimated and the erosion of soils accelerated. With the consequence that only sparse vegetation can be found in the coastal plains and in larger lowland areas. Most people live or lived along the coasts, where access to the sea gave them a livelihood without problems for a long time. However, as a result of overfishing by non-Filipino commercial fishing fleets and the destruction of coral reefs, the diversity of fish species has drastically decreased and the existence – especially of small fishers – is acutely threatened.

Since the groundwater level has also fallen due to deforestation and erosion, subsistence farming in the country hardly offers any (survival) prospects. Rural exodus and increased internal migration, i.e. migration from the countryside to the city, are the result, which is causing the population in urban centers to rise steadily. Such a process is reinforced by the highest birth rate in Southeast Asia (CIA World Fact; Mortality) and the refuge of people who have been the victims of displacement or armed conflicts between government troops and Muslim and communist rebels in numerous parts of the country – MILF, CPP and NDFP.

In addition, the land / agrarian reform that has not yet been carried out (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law from 1988) and creeping land conversion contain plenty of socio-political explosive. The former has been delayed again and again because most of the MPs in Congress represent landowner interests themselves. In addition, fertile farmland (rice and maize) has been widely used by landowners for other purposes. For commercial reasons, lucrative residential complexes (subdivisions) were built on previously agricultural land or new golf courses were laid out. As a former rice exporter, the Philippines are now forced to import large quantities of this staple food from neighboring countries Thailand and Vietnamrelate.

In contrast to the neighboring countries, the Philippines have a comparatively poor infrastructure. Many roads are in need of repair or resemble gravel roads with buses and jeepneys in need of repair, which led to Manila being listed in the top ten most stressful cities in the world in 2017. The ferry traffic between the numerous islands is also unsafe; Time and again there are major accidents because the ships were in a miserable technical condition or – which was often the case – unscrupulous shipowners and captains let significantly more people on board than is actually allowed.


The Philippines once had extensive primary forests and a largely intact and protected environment. But since the mid-1960’s at the latest, when the respective governments in Manila decided on a development strategy of an export-oriented type and sold important natural resources in order to earn foreign currency, merciless deforestation was carried out, which in many places led to severe erosion damage, torrent-like floods and a Climate change – with lasting consequences for people and the environment.

The archipelago is still home to one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, which is acutely endangered if it is not possible to stop deforestation, destruction of coral reefs, overfishing and increasing air and water pollution as a result of rapid population growth and settlement pressure. The government has now recognized these dangers and is trying in association with foreign development organizations – including the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbHor their office in Manila – to protect the rainforest and maritime resources and to take action in the area of ​​keeping air and water clean and in waste treatment. However, according to the criticism of Filipino and international environmentalists, the passing of melodious, progressive laws is often in stark contrast to the measures to implement them and is happening far too slowly.

While older environmentally conscious organizations such as HARIBON and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), in conjunction with numerous local ecological initiatives, endeavor to implement practical measures to protect and protect the environment and to use the practices of international mining and mining companies as “developmental aggression.”), it will still take immense efforts to anchor a solid environmental awareness in the majority of the population.

Finally, when it comes to the use of renewable energies – wind and water power as well as geothermal systems – the Philippines are preparing to take on a regional pioneering role. Nevertheless, the El Nino problem has shown in recent years that water as a resource needs special protection and that water scarcity will become an increasingly common problem in the future.

Philippines Environment

Independence Day: June 12 (1898) / July 4, 1946

Head of state: Rodrigo R. Duterte

Head of government: Rodrigo R. Duterte

Political system: presidential democracy

Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 50 of 129 (2018)

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 99 of 180 (2018)

Foreign Trade and Foreign Policy

Trade & Trade Balance

The most important foreign trade partners for Philippine exports are the USA, Japan, the EU, Hong Kong and the PR China with the product groups electronic products, office machines and transport equipment, clothing, optical products, coconut products and fruits.

The most important foreign trade partners for imports are Japan, the USA, the PR China, Singapore, South Korea and the EU with the commodity groups raw materials, machines and mechanical equipment, fuels and vehicles or vehicle parts.


The foreign debt amounted to early 2017, according to the Philippine central bank converted 77.66 billion US dollars, – a percentage in terms of GDP – an improvement compared to previous years. For comparison: The government of Corazon C. Aquino had “inherited” a debt amount of almost 28 billion US dollars from the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, while the foreign debt when Marcos took office at the end of December 1965 was the equivalent of two billion dollars would have. The repayment of foreign debts and the personnel costs of the government administration have absorbed nearly 90 percent of the budget in the recent past. The Philippines’ debt rose to a record 7.16 trillion Philippine Pesos in February 2018(PHP). This trend continued in 2019 and the debt of the Philippines rose again, reaching a new high of 7.494 trillion Philippine Pesos (PHP) in January 2019. The payments to repay debt in the first half of 2019 are correspondingly high.

German-Filipino Relations

A list of German-Filipino associations German-Filipino who created the Philippine Embassy in Berlin. For its part, the German Club in Manila, which has existed since 1906, has materials ready that document and illustrate the hustle and bustle of Teutons in the past and present on the more than 7,000 islands – sometimes with pleasure.

In 2007 the Goethe Institute in Manila published the volume “European Legacies in the Philippines”, which Rainer Werning wrote on the occasion of a lecture tour sponsored by the institute at several Philippine universities. In autumn 2014, the fifth edition of the handbook Philippines – Society, Politics, Economy, Culture, jointly edited by Niklas Reese and Rainer Werning, was published.