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land and climate


The Land
Across lowland coastal plains and mountainous interiors, the islands of The Philippines have the richest biodiversity on earth. There are 510 species of mammals, birds, frogs and lizards that are only found in the Philippines. In comparison, Brazil has 725 unique species but it is 28 times bigger. But like many countries, this biodiversity is under threat. People are clearing natural habitats to make way for new roads and settlements, and to use natural resources like timber and minerals. In the 1950s, three quarters of The Philippines was covered by primary forest. Today, forest cover has dwindled to only a third of the land.

chocolate hills
Simon Scoones/Worldaware.
The Chocolate Hills are one of the more unusual landforms in The Philippines. These egg-shaped hills on Bohol island get their nickname from their parched, brown colour during the dry season. It is likely that they were once limestone deposits beneath the sea, uplifted by the movement of plates and then smoothed by wind and rainwater erosion.

disaster strikes
The people of the Philippines experience more natural disasters than any other country...

  • There are 17 active volcanoes in The Philippines.
  • Since 1975, there have been twelve earthquakes and six volcanic eruptions.
  • Over one million people were affected by floods in 2000.
  • The Philippines has an average of 19 typhoons a year, causing flash floods and considerable damage to farmland and property.
  • Between 1975-2000, there were 250 natural disasters causing 37,000 deaths.

click herefor a table that shows the worst ten according to the numbers of people killed.

click here to find out how the number of natural disasters in The Philippines compares to other countries in south-east Asia.

How can the actions of people make some of these natural disasters even worse? click here

Pinatubo Ten Years On
volcano Mount Pinatubo's eruption on June 14th 1991 was one of the largest of the 20th century. 500,000 people living in the shadow of the volcano are still affected by this natural disaster. To find out more,
click here

The Climate
climate graphLying 5-15° north of the equator, the climate is hot and humid all year round. Although the sea influences the climate of individual islands to some extent, all the islands have two seasons during the year, a dry season from January to June, and a wet season from July to December. Like much of northern Australia, The Philippines suffered a drought in 1999 when it should have been the wet season. This is because of a change in the behaviour of the Trade Winds that blow across the Pacific Ocean known as El Nino. To find out more about El Nino and the reverse phenomenon, La Nina, visit The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory website, www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/elnino/nino-home.html