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November 2013



One of the largest storms of the year, Typhoon Haiyan, is approaching the Philippines. This superstorm is heading in a northwesterly direction, directly into the central Philippine islands. The Philippines is an archipelago (7,107 islands) between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam. The country is slightly larger than Arizona, with over 36,000 km of coastline.

The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline. A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian.

The climate of the Philippines is tropical marine. Its terrain is mostly mountains, but also includes extensive coastal lowlands. Mount Apo is the highest point of the country (2954 m). The country's natural resources include: timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, and copper. Astride typhoon belt, the country is usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms each year, often resulting in landslides.

The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence.

In 1992, the US closed its last military base on the islands. Benigno Aquino III was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2010. The Philippines is a republic with 80 provinces and 39 chartered cities. It has a mixed legal system of civil, common, Islamic, and customary law.

CIA World Factbook; National Hurricane Center, 11/2013; 3/2013

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