Philippines People, Population, Religion and Nationality


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Browse the information below for demographic information on Philippines, including population, religion, nationality and more. If you do not find the Philippines information you need on the people page, check out our complete listing on the Philippines Country Page.

  • Philippines Geography
  • Philippines Government
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  • Philippines History

    Nationality: Noun--Filipino(s). Adjective--Philippine.
    Population (2000 census): 76.5 million. Government est., 2002: 79.5 million Annual growth rate: 2.36%.
    Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.
    Religions: Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.
    Languages: Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.
    Education: Years compulsory--6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance--above 97% in elementary grades, above 74% in secondary grades. Literacy--92%.
    Health (2002): Infant mortality rate--25.7/1,000. Life expectancy--66.9 yrs. males; 72.2 yrs. females.
    Work force (2002): 33.9 million. Services (including commerce and government)--47%; agriculture--37%; industry--16%.

    People of the Philippines
    The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest alien minorities in the country.

    More than 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

    About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language

    English, the most important non-native language, is used as a second language by many, including nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a first language.

    Despite this multiplicity of languages, the Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.


  • Philippines Geography
  • Philippines Government
  • Philippines Economy
  • Philippines History