The landscapes in the Philippines are so diverse; from the mountain ranges of the Cordillera, to the jungles of Bohol, from the colourful cityscapes to the natural beauty of the waterfalls and volcanoes, and never forgetting the beautiful beaches - you will never run out of things to see in the Philippines.
The rainforests, jungles and magnificent coastline of the Philippines are home to a diverse range of flaura and fauna. It is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. There are 13,500 plant species of which almost 4,000 are endemic to the islands. Also, many rare types of orchids and rafflesia can be found in the Philippine forests. Thanks to its warm, tropical waters the Philippines boasts extraordinary underwater wildlife: no less than 800 varieties of coral and 2,000 fish species. Amongst the wildlife native to the Philippines are the tarsier (the smallest primate in the world, primarily found on Bohol), the tamaraw (buffalo) of Mindoro, the Visayan warty pig and the Philippine eagle.
With 7,107 islands to choose from, you may not know where to start your journey in the Philippines. With so many idyllic landscapes at your fingertips, do you choose the lush greenery of Palawan, the jungle of Bohol, the volcanic landscapes of Camiguin and southern Luzon, or the rice terraces and mountainous terrain of northern Luzon? And we haven't even mentioned the stunning beaches of Boracay, Negros or northern Palawan!
With such a prominent Spanish influence (the Philippines was ruled by the Spaniards for 333 years), the Philippines features many beautiful monuments - some that endured the second World War or the many earthquakes that shook the country over the years - and others that had to be rebuilt. In Manila, a visit to the old walled city otherwise known as Intramuros (literally "within the walls") is a must, to see Fort Santiago, the Manila cathedral and the San Agustin church, or the nearby Rizal Park with its Rizal monument and Lapu-Lapu statue - tributes to two of the national heroes. Meanwhile, the oldest church in the Philippines can be found in the town of Baclayon on the island of Bohol.
Spanish colonisation in the Philippines lasted from the mid 16th until the late 19th century so the Spanish influence is very present in the local traditions. It can be seen in Filipino folk music, dance, national costume, cuisine, festivities (Filipinos love to throw a fiesta). Even the national language Filipino (or Tagalog) features a hefty dose of Spanish words. But probably the biggest Hispanic contribution to the local culture is the religion; most Filipinos are devoted Roman Catholics.
However, with such a diverse people throughout the islands, each has its own culture, traditions and language. The Kankanay people of Mountain Province are worlds apart from the Muslim tribes of Mindanao, for example; as are the city dwelling Manilños from the laidback Visayans of the central Philippines.
On the whole though, Filipinos are extremely welcoming and a very happy and friendly people, with a "what will be, will be" attitude to life.