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Role of geography in Lives of Filipinos Land Around 15 million hectares, or almost half of the Philippines' total land area,

are classified as timberland. Most of the land here was densely forested before the 1900s. However, the following century saw the loss of half of Philippine forests. Statistics show that deforestation claimed 204,000 hectares per year from 1950 to 1978. From 1989 to 1995, only 116,332 hectares were vanishing annually. Environmentalist groups are trying to protect Philippine forests, but a lot needs to be done in the campaign for reforestation as well as the fight against illegal logging. Philippine forests produce timber for local consumption and for export. Hardwood products coming from these timbers are globally known for their distinct appearance and high quality, which makes them appropriate as home furnishings. Wooden furniture, such as tables and chairs, are usually made of hardwood, popularly known as narra. Most Philippine forests are of the tropical rainforest type. Besides extensive reserves of tropical evergreen hardwoods, the country also has considerable areas of pine in the mountainous regions of Northern Luzon. Sea With a coastal ecosystem stretching almost 20,000 km, the Philippines is likely to become one of the earliest victims of rising ocean temperatures and levels. Centuries-old coral reefs are dying almost overnight, and the destruction is being witnessed not only by divers in remote spots. Regional marine science studies estimated in the middle of 1999 that the Philippines' magnificent underwater world would be gone by around 2100. Reports say that increased sea temperatures were causing "mass coral bleaching events" in the world's best coral reefs. Something has to be done to reduce global warming caused by the burning of oil, coal, and gas. For smaller bodies of water, the Philippines has extensive but small river systems and streams, which are mostly depicted by the mountain ranges. The fluvial system of Luzon is made up of (1) Rio Grande de Cagayan and its tributaries (a stream that flows into a larger body of water), which drain the Cagayan Valley; (2) the Agno Grande which drains Benguet and the valleys of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Tarlac; (3) the Abra River system, which receives its tributaries from the Cordillera and drains Lepanto, Bontoc, and the Abra; and (4) the Rio Grande de Pampanga and its tributaries, which drain the fertile valfeys of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Bulacan.

Physical features of the Philippines

Location The Philippines' absolute location is between 4oN and 21oN latitude and between 116oE and 127oE longitude. The country, which is part of the East Indies, lies at the western rim of the Pacific Ocean and fronts the southernmost extension of the Eurasian continent. It is bounded by the South China Sea on the north, the Sulu Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and by the Celebes Sea and the coastal waters of Borneo on the south. Size The Philippine archipelago lies in Southeast Asia in a position that has led to its becoming a cultural crossroads, a place where Malays, Arabs, Chinese, Spaniards, Americans, Japanese and others have interacted to forge a unique cultural and racial blend. The archipelago numbers some 7,107 islands and the nation claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. The Philippines occupies an area that stretches for 1,850 kilometers from about the fifth to the twentieth parallels north latitude. The total land area is slightly more than 300,000 square kilometers. Only approximately 1,000 of its islands are populated, and fewer than one-half of these are larger than 2.5 square kilometers. Eleven islands make up 95 percent of the Philippine landmass, and two of these Luzon and Mindanao measure 105,000 and 95,000 square kilometers, respectively. Climate The Philippines has a tropical wet climate dominated by a rainy season and a dry season. The summer monsoon brings heavy rains to most of the archipelago from May to October, whereas the winter monsoon brings cooler and drier air from December to February. Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May. Even at this time, however, temperatures rarely rise above 37 C (98.6 F). Mean annual sea-level temperatures rarely fall below 27 C (80.6 F). Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (196.9 in) in the mountainous east coast section of the country, but less than 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) in some of the sheltered valleys. Monsoon rains, although hard and drenching, are not normally associated with high winds and waves. But the Philippines sit astride the typhoon belt, and it suffers an annual onslaught of dangerous storms from July through October. These are especially hazardous for northern and eastern Luzon and the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions, but Manila gets devastated periodically as well. In the last decade, the Philippines has been hit severely by natural disasters. In 2005 alone, Central Luzon was hit by both a drought, which sharply curtailed hydroelectric power, and by a typhoon that flooded practically all of low-lying Manila's streets. Still more damaging was the 1990 earthquake that devastated a wide area in Luzon, including Baguio and other northern areas. The city of Cebu and nearby areas were struck by a typhoon that killed more than a hundred people, sank vessels, destroyed part of the sugar crop, and cut off water and electricity for several days. The Philippines is prone to about 18-21 typhoons per year. Of course the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption also damaged much of Central Luzon, the lahar burying towns and farmland, and the ashes affecting global temperatures. Building construction is undertaken with natural disasters in mind. Most rural housing has consisted of nipa huts that are easily damaged but are inexpensive and easy to replace. Most urban buildings are steel and concrete structures designed (not always successfully) to resist both typhoons and earthquakes. Damage is still significant, however, and many people are displaced each year by typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. In 1987 alone the Department of Social Welfare and Development helped 2.4 million victims of natural disasters. Land and Water forms