T he Philippine archipelago is geographically located between latitude 4023'N and 21025'N and longitude 1160E and 1270E. It is composed of 7,107 islands, with a land area of 299,764 sq.kilometers. Its length measures 1,850 kilometers, starting from the point near the southern tip of Taiwan and ending close to northern Borneo. Its breadth is about 965 kilometers. The Philippine coastline adds up to 17,500 km. Three prominent bodies of water surround the archipelago: the Pacific Ocean on the east, the South China Sea on the west and north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. This position accounts for much of the variations in geographic, climatic and vegetational conditions in the country.
The topography of the bigger islands - particularly Luzon and Mindanao - is characterized by alluvial plains, narrow valleys, rolling hills and high mountains. The highest mountains are found in Mindanao and Luzon, with the altitudes varying from 1,790 to 3,144 meters. Most of the smaller islands are mountainous in the interior, surrounded by narrow strips of discontinuous flat lowlands which constitute the coastal rims. The shorelines of both large and small islands are irregular.
The Philippines' fertile land accounts for the more than 900 species of orchids representing 100 genera that have been found. The sampaguita is the national flower. Among the country's fauna are some endangered species like the Philippine Eagle, the tarsier, and the mouse deer.
There are 14 regions, 73 provinces and 60 cities across the archipelago. Metro Manila is strategically located in the middle of Luzon, on the eastern coast of Manila Bay and at the mouth of the Pasig River, sprawled over an area of 626 sq.km. Manila sits in the middle of a swampy deltaic plain formed by accumulated sedimentary deposits from the Pasig River and other streams.
The city is between the bay to the west, the highlands to the east, and Laguna de Bay to the southeast. Most of its densely populated areas are found along the Pasig River running across the metropolis dividing it into two sections - the north and the south.