The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia situated in the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.
The travel and tourism sector is a major contributor to the economy, contributing 7.1% to the Philippine GDP in 2013 and providing 1,226,500 jobs or 3.2 percent of total employment. 2,433,428 international visitors arrived from January to June 2014 up by 2.22% in the same period in 2013. South Korea, China, and Japan accounted for 58.78% while the Americas accounted for 19.28% and Europe 10.64%. The Department of Tourism has responsibility for the management and promotion of the tourism sector.
The country’s rich biodiversity is one of the main tourist attractions with its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots among the most popular tourist destinations. As an archipelago consisting of about 7,500 islands, the Philippines has numerous beaches, caves and other rock formations. Boracay has glaring white sand beaches and was named as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2012. The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Magellan’s Cross in Cebu and the Tubbataha Reef in Visayas are other highlights.
The Philippines is also one of the favorite retirement destinations for foreigners due to its warm climate all year round, beaches and low cost of living.