The Philippines is a tropical paradise in Southeast Asia with spectacular beaches fringed with gently swaying palm trees on fine white, pink and in some areas almost black sand. Some islands are well known and some are still deserted and undiscovered, home to underwater wrecks like Spanish galleons and Chinese junks surrounded by vast expanses of verdant landscapes and classic baroque churches.
The Philippine Islands consisting of about 7,100 separate islands largely of volcanic origin traversed from north to south by irregular mountain ranges spread more than 1,100 miles (1850 kilometers) from north to south and nearly 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) east to west at its widest. Total land area is nearly 115,000 square miles (roughly 300,439 square kilometers), slightly larger than New Zealand, roughly the size of the state of Arizona of which about two-thirds is contained in Luzon and Mindanao. The total water surface of the archipelago is 705,115 square miles.
The three main island groupings: Luzon on the north which includes the islands of Mindoro and Palawan; the Visayan Islands in the middle; and Mindanao in the south which includes the Sulu group.
The Philippine population is a mix of tribal and ethnic groups representing 111 linguistic, cultural and racial groups. The majority is of Filipino-Malayan descent with Japanese, Chinese, European and American added to the mix. The minority is the aboriginal group called Negritos whose average height is about 147 centimeters or 58 inches, dark brown to almost black skin color, wide noses and tight curly hair. The Negritos or Little Negroes are one of the dwarf Australoid people of the ancient populations of the world. However, there are about 87 different languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines. Tagalog was made the national language in 1946 and changed to Pilipino in 1962. English is also widely used.