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Facts on the Philippines

The land: Some 7,107 islands covering an area of 115,880 square miles with a discontinu ous coastline of 10,850 miles. The Philippines is 500 miles from mainland Southeast Asia and 7,000 miles from San Francisco. The people: About 46 million, growing around 2.6 percent per year. Most are ethnically Malay, with a sprinkling of Chinese, Indian, Arabic, and Caucasian blood. There are some ethnic minorities such as the Maguindanaos (550,000), Maranaoes (450,000), and Tausugs (325,000). Language: About 70 languages and dialects. The official language is Pilipino. School and university are taught in English, which is also the language of business. A sizeable minority speak Spanish. The literacy rate is about 89 percent. Climate: Tropical, warm and humid, with the hottest months April through October and sometimes typhoons in the northern islands in the summer. December is relatively cool. Government: President Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed martial law in 1972. He can rule by presidential decree, although an interim national assembly was elected in 1978. Gross national product: Real GNP increased 5.8 percent in 1979 to about $29 billion. Per capita GNP was $619. Currency: The peso is valued at about 7.57 to $1. There are 100 centavos in the peso. Trade: Exports were up from $2.8 billion in 1978 to around $3.7 billion in 1979. Imports rose from $4.1 billion to $5.5 billion, leaving a trade deficit last year of about $1.7 billion. The US share of Philippine exports is 35 percent and of imports, 20.4 percent. External debt: As of June 30, $11 billion.