The Philippines at a Glance
Moving to the PhilippinesiStockphoto
With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines offer gorgeous destinations to everyone.
Due to the catastrophic damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Eastern Visayas region in November 2013, which might take years to rebuild, we cannot ensure that the factual information in this article series is up-to-date for the entire country. The current version of this guide was accurate in autumn 2013, before the disaster, but it is yet unclear for how long, or in which way, issues like health and safety, transport, or the national economy will be affected. Thank you for your understanding!
InterNations Editorial Office
The idea of moving to the Philippines is prevalent in many expats who dream of a laid-back life under palm trees in a warm and sunny climate. The Philippines are the second largest archipelago in the world. Their 7,100 islands are considered the hidden treasure of Southeast Asia.
The nation’s heritage and its various cultural influences make the Philippines so appealing an expat destiantion. When moving to the Philippines, you will quickly become aware of the diversity in the country’s culture and nature, complete with metropolitan areas and beautiful landscapes.
However, the immense destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) in November 2013 sadly demonstrated that natural disasters are one of the biggest safety risks for everyone living in and moving to the Philippines.
Geography and Climate of the Philippines
The Philippines are located east of Vietnam, between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. With its many islands, the nation offers 36,289km of coastline. The terrain is mostly mountainous with extensive lowlands at the coast. The highest point is Mount Apo, with 2,954m in height.
After your move to the Philippines, you will experience a tropical marine climate throughout the year, with monsoon season from November to April in the North-East and May to October in the South-West. When moving to the Philippines, you should be aware that the country is located in the typhoon belt. Each year, the archipelago is affected by up to 15 and hit by five or six severe storms.
The destructive power of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was one of the biggest tropical storms ever observed: a terrifying record that affected up to 12 million people, resulting in the loss of numerous lives and countless homes. There’s more: expats can expect landslides, volcanic eruptions, earth-quakes and tsunamis to be common in the Philippines as well.
An article on moving to the Philippines could never be complete without mentioning Manila, the capital and biggest city in the entire country, with 11.45 million people. The city is not just the seat of the Philippine government. It is also a buzzing center of commerce as well as the home of historic landmarks and of scientific and educational institutions. Thus, Manila is the political, commercial and cultural center of the nation and the biggest magnet for expats interested in moving to the Philippines.
The sea port of Manila is one of the busiest around the globe, making the city an important location for import and export. On top of that, different industrial developments are built throughout the city, creating new business areas. At the moment, the commercial center of Manila is located in Makati.
However, Manila is also a popular tourist destination, despite the lack of a definable city center, which was destroyed in World War II. Manila is a vibrant metropolis which is constantly growing in population. It is the very definition of Filipino urban culture.
Economy of the Philippines
Expats will benefit strongly from an economy which has recently experienced a significant growth. Since the Philippines do not rely as strongly on exports and international securities, the recession has not hit the country as hard as it did its neighbors in South-East Asia. The labor force of the Philippines counts about 40 million people. 32% of them work in agriculture. Expatriates who move to the Philippines are likely to find work in the services sector, which employs 53% of the Philippine labor force.
Despite its strong economy, there is a high rate of poverty. This may come as somewhat of a surprise to expats. Despite its well-performing economy and high GDP, the country faces a large national debt. Its economy depends highly on money sent home by overseas workers. Another factor is the country’s rising birth rate, which could lead the population to double in the next three years.
How exactly the damages caused by the devastating typhoon in 2013 and the subsequent rebuilding effort will affect the national economy of this emerging market remains to be seen. For example, the storm spared the Manila region, the economic center of the Philippines. But it shredded numerous fields of rice and sugar cane, two important cash crops and export products. In addition to causing famine and suffering in the affected provinces, this could have a more long-term effect on economic growth as well.