Physical Features of the Philippines

Updated on May 9, 2016

From the air the Philippines is seen as a series of mountain slopes softened by tropical growth and interrupted by cultivated plains and terraces, as well as by inland seas and channels. Except in Luzon and Mindanao, no portion of the archipelago is much more than 50 miles (80 km) from the water. It is a land whose mineral resources are inadequately mapped, but whose volcanic soil is constantly being eroded because of reckless farming methods and deforestation.

Source

Physical Features

The Philippine Islands are the tops of underwater mountains formed by outpourings of molten materials from the earth's interior. Consequently, igneous rock appears throughout most of the archipelago. Submergence of the entire area, after formation of these mountains, resulted in the deposit of various marine sediments over the lava underlay. The process of mountain forming has not stopped, as is indicated by recurring earth tremors and volcanic action. One of the most unstable parts of the earth's crust, the Philippines lies between the continental periphery of Southeast Asia and the Philippine (Mindanao) Trench. Descending 34,440 feet (10,497 meters) below sea level, the Philippine Trench is one of the deepest parts of any ocean.

Large expanses of level land are rare, although it has been estimated that with terracing nearly half of the Philippines is potentially arable. The largest lowlands are on Luzon and Mindanao. Foremost is the Central Plain in western Luzon, which extends over 100 miles (160 km) from Lingayen Gulf south to Manila Bay. The plain continues southward into the volcanic hills beyond Batangas and Laguna provinces and averages 40 miles (65 km) in width. Cagayan Valley in the extreme northeastern portion of Luzon, between the Cordillera Central and the Sierra Madre, is equally fertile and an important rice-growing area. In Mindanao, inside the coastal highlands on the east, an alluvial plain extends from the Agusan River in the north to Davao in the south. The Cotabato Valley occupies southwestern Mindanao, and north of this valley at an elevation of 2,000 to 3,000 feet (600–900 meters) lies the fertile Bukidnon Plateau.

Source

Have you ever visited the Philippines?

See results

Of the seven largest Visayan islands—Samar, Negros, Panay, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate—only Bohol and Masbate, which are plateaus, escape the presence of dividing, high, central mountains. The largest stretches of flatlands run from the northern coast of Panay to the city of Iloilo, and along the western part of Negros Occidental province. Among outlying islands Palawan is undeveloped, largely because of its mountainous terrain. The islands of the Sulu group are uncultivated because arable land is scarce.

The small area of the islands precludes extensive river systems. Most rivers are less than 20 miles (30 km) long, turbulent, and seasonal in their flow. The largest, the Cagayan, is only 200 miles (320 km) long. Other major rivers are the Agno, Pampanga, Pasig, and Bicol in Luzon, and the Rio Grande de Mindanao and Agusan in Mindanao. The short Pasig River is important because of the shipping it carries through Metropolitan Manila.

Source

Soils

In the 880 arable islands three broad groupings of soil are recognized. The most fertile soils are those that developed from the weathering of relatively recent volcanic materials. But areas with this type of soil tend to be poorly drained. Artificial drainage is often necessary for the growing of crops such as sugarcane. The second most fertile type resulted from the weathering of deep deposits of marine or river sediment. Such soil is high in lime content, as is most of Cebu island, for example. But because limestone is porous, it loses some of its fertility through rapid water drainage. The third major soil group occurs on floodplains and highland deltas. These alluvial deposits are deep, and most lowland rice is planted in them.

While the soil resource is adequate, soil conservation is not. Fertilization, contour plowing, and crop rotation are all minimal. Three fourths of the farmland shows serious soil erosion, caused mainly by the widely practiced slash-and-burn method of the kainginero (forest-burner), who clears trees recklessly in order to plant temporary crops.

Climate

Source

At sea level throughout the islands, the temperature averages about 80° F (27° C). The humidity is high, and for every 300-foot (90-meter) rise in elevation, the temperature decreases approximately 1 Fahrenheit degree (0.55 Celsius degree). Thus Baguio, on Luzon, is usually 15 to 20 Fahrenheit degrees (8–11 Celsius degrees) cooler than the lowlands; Bukidnon and Lanao, on Mindanao, are 5 to 10 Fahrenheit degrees (3–6 Celsius degrees) cooler than the coast. The islands consequently can supply themselves with both tropical and temperate-zone fruits and vegetables.

Rainfall is heavy and varies according to area and season. One area may receive less than 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain per year, while another may receive more than 200 inches (5,000 mm). Generally, the east receives abundant rain all year, with the greatest amount falling from October to April. Air from the Indian Ocean condenses into monsoon rains, which fall on the west and southwest slopes of the mountains from June to November. In addition, approximately 15 to 20 typhoons, or baguios, approaching from the vicinity of the Mariana Islands to the southeast, lash the Philippines during summer and autumn. While the annual rainfall of Baguio, for example, is between 43 and 170 inches (1,100–4,300 mm), during a typhoon the city can receive as much as 72 inches (1,800 mm) in 72 hours. Much damage is caused by the winds and heavy downpours and frequent flooding, as in central Luzon in 1972.

More About the Philippines

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        someguyonmainstreet 

        6 weeks ago

        somewhat good

      • profile image

        ad 

        2 months ago

        cool

      • profile image

        Eh 

        7 months ago

        Cool

      • profile image

        marcus 

        10 months ago

        this is the bast

      • profile image

        sallly gohinger 

        15 months ago

        this is good. omgreatnees. haha lol #jkjk

      • profile image

        Imogen 

        2 years ago

        This really work for our group act.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)