Key facts: Philippines

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Manila

Population: 99,900,177 (July 2010 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census).

Location: Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam.

Government: Republic; Chief of state and head of government: President Benigno Aquino (since June 30, 2010).

Economy: Philippine GDP grew nearly 7% in 2010. The economy weathered the 2008-09 global recession better than its regional peers due to minimal exposure to securities issued by troubled global financial institutions; lower dependence on exports; relatively resilient domestic consumption, supported by large remittances from 4 to 5 million overseas Filipino workers; and a growing business process outsourcing industry. Economic growth in the Philippines has averaged 4.5% per year since 2001, when former President Macapagal-Arroyo took office. Despite this growth, poverty worsened during the term of Macapagal-Arroyo, because of a high population growth rate and inequitable distribution of income. Macapagal-Arroyo averted a fiscal crisis by pushing for new revenue measures and, until recently, tightening expenditures to address the government’s growing budget deficit and to reduce high debt and debt service ratios. But the government abandoned its 2008 balanced-budget goal in order to help the economy weather the global financial and economic storm. The economy under Aquino faces budget shortfalls in the near term but has had little difficulty issuing debt both locally and internationally to finance the deficits. Aquino’s first budget emphasizes education and other social spending programs, relying on the private sector to finance important infrastructure projects. Weak tax collection in recent years limits the government’s ability to address major challenges.

GDP per capita: $3,500 (2010 est.); inflation: 4.2% (2010 est.); unemployment 7.5% (2010 est.).

Currency: Philippine Pesos (PHP): 43.3 pesos equal 1 U.S. dollar (Feb. 18, 2011).

Exports: $45.89 billion (2010 est.): semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, fruits.

Imports: $57.24 billion (2010 est.): electronic products, mineral fuels, machinery and transport equipment, iron and steel, textile fabrics, grains, chemicals, plastic.

Major crops/agricultural products: Sugarcane, coconuts, rice, maize, bananas, cassavas, pineapples, mangoes; pork, eggs, beef, fish.

Agriculture: 13.7% of GDP and 34% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .ph; 394,990 (2010) hosts and 8.278 million (2009) users.