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Country in Focus: Philippines

Posted by feww on April 17, 2008

Philippines population climbs as food problems worsen

Philippines Facts

Population

  • 93,411,554 (FEWW August 2008 est.)
    92,681,453 (CIA World Factbook July 2008 est.)
  • The population grew at a rate of 2.34 percent annually between 1990 and 2000, and by than 2.04 percent since 2000.
  • The population growth rate for 2008 could be as high 3.4% (see FEWW calculations)
  • The population reached 88.57 million in August 2007 (census), up from 76.5 million in 2000.
  • The average population growth rate in Asia is 1.1 percent (UNPF).

Politics and Religion and Politics

  • Philippines is the biggest Catholic nation in Asia.
  • In Manila, the capital, the conversion of agricultural land for property development has been halted to meet the food needs of the nation.
  • The church forbids artificial birth control.
  • President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001 with the backing of the Church.

The Economy

  • About 36 percent of the population are poor and the numbers of poor is growing faster than the population.
  • Recent government data revealed that 28 million people subsisted on less than $1 per day in 2006 (up 16 percent from 2003). Report
  • Estimated per capita GDP: $3,300 (Rank: 159th) 2007
  • Unemployment rate for 2006: 7.9 percent
  • Labor in agriculture: 36 percent (2003 estimate)

Population below poverty line

  • 36% (2008 est.)
  • Household income or consumption by percentage share:

    • lowest 10%: 2.4%
    • highest 10%: 31.2% (2006):


Armed soldiers deployed as security escorts during rice distribution, watch a large crowd of residents waiting to buy cheap priced government rice outside the National Food Authority warehouse in Manila on April 11, 2008. A senior UN official visiting Manila said April 11 that food riots from soaring food prices have hit 33 countries and warned that the Philippines, one of the world’s largest rice importers, could be next if the government mishandled the issue. Meanwhile the International Rice Research Institute warned that rice prices are likely to keep rising for some time as production fails to keep up with soaring demand.
4:25 a.m. ET, 4/11/08.
Photo Credit: ROMEO GACAD / AFP/Getty Images – Image may be copyrighted. See FEWW Fair Use Notice. (Caption: MSNBC)

Geography

  • Total area: 300,000 sq km
  • Land: 298,170 sq km
  • Water: 1,830 sq km

Land Use

  • Arable land: 19%
  • Permanent crops: 16.67%
  • Other: 64.33% (2005)

Freshwater Withdrawal (Domestic, agricultural, industrial)

  • Total: 28.52 cu km/yr (17%/9%/74%)
  • Per capita: 343 cu m/yr (2000)

[Note: The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait]

Environmental issues

Uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in major urban centers; coral reef degradation; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds. (Source: CIA- The World Factbook)

Comments by EU External Relations

The Philippines is ranked as a lower Middle Income Country, but is beset by extreme inequality of wealth distribution. While the Philippines is not a poor country, it is nevertheless a country with a lot of poor people: about [36] % of its total population, some [33] million people, live below the National Poverty Line. The country has not achieved sufficient economic progress over the past decades to substantially reduce poverty, due mainly to high population growth, lack of employment creation, rampant corruption, feudal politics and insurgencies, one communist-inspired, the other triggered by Islamic separatism. Combined with the lack of a national policy to slow its 2.3% annual population growth, its ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is seriously compromised. The Philippines lags economically behind the rest of the region and has recently been facing a severe fiscal crisis, with the highest deficit in the region of 5 % of GDP. At the same time it needs to service a national government debt of 78% of GDP The Philippines is witnessing an erosion of confidence in elected government and political institutions, coupled with a feeling of impotence to achieve substantial change towards a more equitable distribution of wealth. Although some measures to redress the fiscal balance have been taken, more economic reforms are necessary to sustain the momentum.

The main challenges for the Philippines are to:

  • reduce poverty through stronger job creation and better access to services, especially social services, as well as to employment and income earning opportunities for the poor;
  • achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth through economic, social and political and reforms.

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