The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,100 islands extending about 1,150 miles from north to south between Taiwan and Borneo , and about 700 miles from east to west. These islands lie off the southeastern coast of the Asian mainland, across the South China Sea and are in a strategic zone between China , Taiwan , Borneo and Indonesia that has made the islands of the Philippines a cultural and trading crossroads over the centuries.
Of these 7,107 islands, the eleven largest islands comprise over 90% of the total area; only 500 of the islands are larger than one sq km, 460 are larger than 2,6 square km and about 2,000 are populated. The total area of the Philippines is 307.055 sq km. From the north to the south the Philippines stretches for 1.850 km and from the east to the west for 1.100 km.
With these numerous islands, the Philippines has one of the largest coastlines of any country with about 22,549 miles of coast; this coast is irregular with many bays, gulfs and inlets, which create many natural harbors and enhance both trading and fishing. Manila Bay has a superb sheltered harbor and is thus the most economically important bay.
The highest peak is Mt. Apo, near Davao in Mindanao, at 2.954m Mt Pulog, north-east of Baguio in North Luzon, is the second at 2.930 m.
There are 37 volcanoes, 18 of which are classed as active.
The Philippine islands are naturally divided into three main geographic areas: the northern islands of Luzon and Mindoro ; the central islands of the Visayas and Palawan , and the southern islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. These three regions are represented by the three stars in the Philippine flag. The two largest islands: Luzon and Mindanao together make up two-thirds of the total land mass and only nine other islands have an area of more than one thousand square miles.