The Philippines is a massive archipelago of more than 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia, between the Philippine and South China seas. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in central Philippines, and Mindanao in the south.
Expats moving to the Philippines will find a multicultural and multi-ethnic nation influenced by the many countries that have laid claim to the land and called it home over the centuries, including Spain, the USA, India, China, Aboriginal Australia, Japan and the Arab states.
Filipinos may appear shy at first, but are known for their genuine hospitality and welcoming nature. While Filipino is the official language, English is widely spoken and expats should not have a problem communicating with the local population. Many businesses and schools communicate in English and many signs around the country include an English translation.
The climate in the Philippines is tropical and sees around 20 typhoons a year, mostly during the monsoon season from June to November. These storms bring strong winds and heavy rains, and low-lying areas are susceptible to flooding. Expats should keep an eye on weather conditions and listen out for the instructions of the local authorities in the case of an emergency.
The Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia, with Catholicism dominating. However, there is a large minority population of Muslims in the southern Philippines. This region has been plagued by an Islamist insurgency in recent years, with militant groups such as Abu Sayyaf having kidnapped and killed foreigners. Many foreign governments advise their citizens to avoid traveling to the southern island of Mindanao for this reason.
Traffic congestion is an issue, particularly in the country’s larger cities. Expats should hire a local driver who understands the roads, rather than braving the roads on their own. There are train and bus routes running between cities and towns, although flying is the most convenient way to get around the country.
Healthcare in the Philippines varies considerably depending on the region, though medical care is available in major cities.
Most expat parents in the Philippines send their children to international schools. There are several in the country, primarily found in Manila. Education at these schools is costly and expats should factor this into their contract negotiations before moving to the Philippines.