Over the past thirty years, the population of the Philippines has doubled. The population growth rate slowed somewhat in the 00s, but it is still high. Among all countries in East and Southeast Asia, the population increase is significantly faster only in East Timor and Papua New Guinea. According to Countryaah, about 10 million Filipinos are guest workers in other countries, primarily in the United States and Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, the average population density was 355 residents per km2, highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore. The densest population is western Luzon with Manila’s metropolitan area as well as the Visayas, mainly Cebu and Negros, and most of Mindanao. Luzon is the world’s fourth most populous island, where half the country’s population lives. Migration to cities has led to very rapid urban growth in recent decades, and in 2019, it is estimated that 47 percent of the population lived in cities. In 2015, 22.7 million people were estimated to live in the metropolitan area of Manila. This includes some fifteen cities such as Quezon City and Calcoon City.
For information on life expectancy and other demographic statistics, see Country facts.
The ethnic composition of the population reflects the immigration history of the islands. The original population consists of Negrites, who are believed to have immigrated 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, when the islands were settled with the rest of Southeast Asia. A few of them still live as collectors and hunters, while others have wholly or partially switched to burning. Negritic peoples, more or less mixed with later immigrant Malay peoples, comprise a number of groups in the western and south-eastern Luzon mountain regions and in the mountains of Inner Panay and Negros; the common name for these groups is aeta, which is Malay for ‘black’. They speak Austronesian languages.
Other Negritic groups are mamanua in northeastern Mindanao and bataks on Palawan. The latter are both culturally and physically endangered; part of their forest area has been made into nature reserves, the rest are exploited by Japanese forest companies. In 1971, the discovery was claimed by a small group, Tasaday, in southern Mindanao, which had not previously been in contact with the outside world. However, it later turned out to be an exaggeration. The number of Negrites is estimated at about 30,000.
Descendants of later immigrants from the so-called Protomalai or Old Indonesian peoples, similarly from the Southeast Asian mainland, are found as a number of tribal peoples, who make up almost 4 percent of the country’s population. They are found mainly in the inner parts of northern Luzon, Mindoro and Mindanao, as well as in Palawan, where they predominantly feed on burning and to some extent have retained their traditional religions and acephal political organization (ie without formal leadership). In northern Luzon, their number is about 600,000; they are commonly called igorots (‘mountain people’ in Tagalog), but in fact these are a number of distinct ethnic groups, which have significant cultural differences. Most famous is ifugao (about 110,000), which for millennia has grown wet rice on artificial irrigated terraced fields of impressive construction. Other groups are the sweat-using kankanay 110,000), bontok (100,000), kalinga (90,000) and ibaloy (55,000).
In Mindanao, the tribes number 500,000 and include manoba (190,000), bukidnon (110,000), bilaan (100,000), tiruray (35,000) and bagobo (17,000). In Mindoro, the tribes are called mangyan and number 40,000. In Palawan, 15,000 Tagbanua live.
The most recently immigrated Malaysian people from Indonesia had around 300 AD established along the coasts and in the lowlands. Their descendants, to some extent mixed with Protomalians and Chinese (and to a lesser extent with Spaniards and Americans), are commonly called Filipinos (Filipinos) and make up just over 95% of the country’s population.
Most Filipinos are Christians. The most important groups of Christian Filipinos are bisaya, which is found in Luzon, Visayas and northern Mindanao. cebuano (14 million), holyaynon (4.5 million) and samaran (just over 2 million), tagalog (22 million), which is mainly found on Luzon, and ilocano (5.3 million) and bicol (6 million), as well as Luzon. Muslim Filipinos (3 million) are found in western and southern Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Islands. They are commonly called fun (Spanish for ‘muslim’) and constitute a number of distinct ethnic groups, the most important of which are the culturally closely related magindanao, maranao and iranon (1.5 million) in Mindanao, as well as tousug (over 600,000) and samal (600,000) in the Sulu Islands.
The Muslim influence in the southern Philippines came via Borneo and Malaysia. As early as the mid-14th century, the Sultanate, economically based on trade and piracy, constituted a power factor that effectively impeded the dominion of the Spaniards in the southern Philippines and formed the basis for the common cultural identity of the Muslim Filipinos. The traditional contradictions between Muslim and Christian Filipinos are manifested in the refusal of the former to recognize the government of Manila, and their constant pursuit (including through the Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF) for independence.
Over the past thirty years, the population of the Philippines has doubled. The population growth rate slowed somewhat in the 00s, but it is still high. Among all countries in East and Southeast Asia, the population increase is significantly faster only in East Timor and Papua New Guinea. In 2015, the birth and death figures were 23 and 6 per thousand respectively, which gave an annual natural population growth of 1.7 percent. But this is a large emigration and the population increase is therefore around 1.95 percent. About 10 million Filipinos are guest workers in other countries, primarily in the United States and Saudi Arabia. The population is young; In 2015, 34 percent were under the age of 15 and only 4 percent were 65 years and older. The average life expectancy was then estimated to be 65 years for men and 72 years for women.
In 2016, the average population density was 342 residents per km2, highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore. The densest population is western Luzon with Manila’s metropolitan area as well as the Visayas, mainly Cebu and Negros, and most of Mindanao. Luzon is the world’s fourth most populous island, where half the country’s population lives. Migration to cities has led to very rapid urban growth in recent decades, and in 2014 it was estimated that 2/3 of the population lived in cities. In 2015, almost 22.7 million people were estimated to live in the metropolitan area of Manila. This includes some fifteen cities such as Quezon City and Calcoon City.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Philippines demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
Official languages are Pilipino (Tagalog) and English. There are over a hundred native languages, all of which belong to the Austronesian languages, most of them the Philippine branch. The major Filipino languages, cebuano, tagalog and hilaynon, all have a long literary tradition and serve as lingua franca in vast geographical areas. Tagalog, which is spoken of in Manila, gained his special status as the Philippines’ national language in 1937 and became official language in 1973; the name pilipino was created in 1959. See further Population and Ethnography above.
English and Tagalog have partly different but overlapping uses. In the administration, the judiciary, the army and the police, mainly English is used. In the media, English is still the most common language, but Tagalog occupies an increasingly important place. Cebuano and hiligaynon are used in local newspapers, radio and television. Spanish is of little importance now. For example, the minority languages in the Philippines include Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and various Indian languages. The education system of the Philippines promotes bilingualism and multilingualism.
Prior to colonization, the population professed a form of Malay religion. Islam never had any great influence. The Spanish-Roman Catholic mission began in the 16th century as part of the colonial administration (the padroos system), but Christianity first slowly penetrated the population. The priesthood consisted almost entirely of Spanish priests, and the order was the country’s largest landowner, causing strong anti-clerical reactions. In 1898 the church was separated from the state.
Resistance to Spanish dominance led in 1902 to the emergence of an independent Filipino church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente. It initially had a Unitarian character but came in 1946 under the influence of the American Episcopal Church. Since 1965, it has been in fellowship with the Old Catholic Church. Since 1980, Pentecostalism (Pentecostal movements) has been successful. About 80% of the population today are Roman Catholics; about 10% belongs to the independent church; others are Muslims, evangelical Christians, followers of old tribal religions and (a few) Buddhists.