Demographics of the Philippines

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Asia

Demographics of the Philippines


  South Asians

According to the 2000 Census, the population of the Philippines was 76,504,077. The Aeta, who are genetically akin to Andamanese islanders and are known as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, constituting a distinct stock, number somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people (<0.03 percent). The overwhelming majority of the population (95 percent), known as ethnic Filipinos, are made up of various ethnolinguistic groups descended from later Austronesian-speaking migrants who arrived in successive waves to the archipelago from Taiwan and admixed with other sporadic migrations from the Asian mainland (what is today southern China). The most significant foreign ethnic minority are the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the 9th century when they first arrived in the Philippines for trade. Mestizos, those of mixed race, form a tiny but economically and politically important minority. The most widely spoken language is Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, although thirteen regional languages are spoken as vernaculars throughout the Philippines. English serves as the primary lingua franca and as the language of commerce and the professions. Christianity is the main religion in the archipelago, with Roman Catholicism making up the majority. A small but significant minority profess Islam, particularly in the southern Philippines. The people of the Philippines are known as Filipinos. Throughout the colonial era the term "Filipino" originally referred to only the Spanish and Spanish-mestizo minority. The definition, however, was later changed to include the entire population of the Philippines regardless of ethnic origin.

Ethnic Groups

The majority of the people in the Philippines are of Austronesian descent who migrated from Taiwan during the Iron Age. They are called ethnic Filipinos. The largest Filipino ethnic groups include the Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Bicolano, Kapampangan, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug. About 8% of all Filipinos of Austronesian descent are tribal peoples. The aborigines of the Philippines, called as Aeta, who are descended from Negritos of the Andaman Islands, now constitute only 0.003% of the entire population.

Significant foreign minorities include the ethnic Chinese, Americans, and the South Asians (mostly Sindh and Pakistani). Other foreign ethnicities in the country include Spaniards, other Europeans (mostly British and Dutch), Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians, and Arabs.

Various degrees of intermarriage between ethnic groups have resulted in the formation of a new vibrant class of peoples, collectively known as Filipino Mestizos. According to a Stanford University small-n study, only about 3.6% of all Filipinos have European genes, most probably Spanish.


A total of one hundred seventy-two native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Austronesian linguistic family. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the official national language, Tagalog. Visayan (also pronounced Bisayan) is widely spoken throughtout the middle islands known as the Visayans and in many areas of Mindanao. English is the predominant non-native language. Other foreign languages spoken are Chinese ( Hokkien) and Cantonese Chinese, among the Chinese and Chinese-mestizo population; Arabic and Malay among some members of the Muslim population; and Spanish preserved and spoken by some families within the Spanish-mestizo minority.

Most Filipinos speak at least two languages. Many speak three or more fluently. Most children begin studying Tagalog and English when they start kindergarten, regardless of what their local language is.


According to the 2000 Census, 81.04% of all Filipinos are Roman Catholics, while 5.06% are adherents of Islam in the Philippines, and 2.82% are Born Again Christians. The remaining 11.08% include the Iglesia ni Cristo, Aglipayan, Mormon adherents, as well as that of other minority religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Roman Catholics and Protestants were converted during 425 years of Western domination by Spain and the United States. 377 years of Spanish rule was responsible for converting the majority of the people to Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism still subsists as a major religion. Often still, Catholic Filipinos mix Catholic beliefs and traditions with beliefs in ghosts and other spirits. Protestant denominations were introduced to the Philippines primarily during the 37 years of American occupation.

Islam was brought to the Sulu Archipelago in the 9th century by Makhdum Karim, an Arab trader, and to Mindanao island by Rajah Kabungsuwan, a Malaccan nobleman. From then onwards, Muslim princes carried on expeditions to propagate Islam. While Islam was easily displaced among the peoples of Luzon and the Visayas, it gained a stronghold in Mindanao.

Other religions include Mahayana Buddhism, followed by many Filipinos of Chinese descent. It is often mixed with Taoist and Confucianist beliefs, and Hinduism and Sikhism, followed by Filipinos of Indo-Aryan descent.

Animism is still prevalent among the highland peoples of Cordillera and Mindanao.


The Philippines' literacy rate was pegged at 92.28%, males at 92.10% and females at 92.47%. Literacy was defined by the Census 2000 to be a person 10 years or older, having the capability to read and write. The National Capital Region had the highest literacy rate, which was pegged at 98.14%. Other regions having a literacy rate higher than the national average were Ilocos Region, 95.23%, Central Luzon, 94.80%m Southern Tagalog Region, 94.01%, Bicol Region, 92.69%, and Western Visayas, 93.02%. Two-thirds of the estimated 34,000,000 people who are 6 to 24 years old were attending school from June 2003 to March/April 2004.

Demographic history

The first census in the Philippines was done on 1591, based on tributes collected. Based on this tribute counting, there were about 666,712 people in the islands. On 1600, this method was revamped by the Spanish officials, who then based the counting of the population through church records. On 1799, a certain Fr. Manuel Buzeta estimated the population count as 1,502,574. However, the first official census was conducted only in 1878, when the population as of midnight on December 31, 1877 was counted. This was followed by two more censuses, namely, the 1887 census, and the 1898 census. The 1887 census yielded a count of 5,984,727, while that of 1898 yielded 5,279,955.

1818 census

This is one of the first censuses conducted in the Philippines. The census, however, was confined solely in Luzon :

  • Whole Luzon: 600,000 (excluding Spaniards and South Americans)
  • Spaniards: 4,500
  • South American: 5,000
  • Tagala (Filipino) mixed with Spanish/South American: 200,000
  • Pure Tagala (Filipino): 340,000
  • Sangley (Chinese): 20,000

1903 census

In 1903 the population of the Philippines was recounted by American authorities to fulfill Act 467. The survey yielded 7,635,426 people, including 56,138, who were foreign-born. In the 100 years since the 1903 census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven. This represents a much faster rate of growth than other countries in the region (e.g. Indonesia has grown five-fold over the same period).

By city or towns exceeding 10,000:

  • Manila, 219,928
  • Laoag, Ilocos Norte 19,699
  • Iloilo, Iloilo 19,054
  • Cebu, Cebu 18,330
  • Nueva Caceres, Camarines Sur 10,021

There were 13,400 villages, nearly 75% of which had fewer than 600 inhabitants.

By race or ethnicity:

  • Malay: 7,539,632 (98.7%)
  • Chinese: 42,097 (0.6%)
  • Mestizo: 15,419 (0.2%)
  • Negrito: 23,511 (0.3%)
  • Caucasian: 14,271 (0.2%) [Spaniards and White US Servicemen]
  • Negro: 505 (0.01%) [Black US Servicemen]

Note: Malay was the term that the Americans used to denote the Philippine population.

The ethnic Malay population divided by language:

  • Christian (Mainly Roman Catholic)
    • Visayan: 3,219,030
    • Tagalog: 1,460,695
    • Ilocano: 803,942
    • Bicol: 566,635
    • Pangasinan: 343,686
    • Pampangan: 280,984
    • Cagayan: 159,648
  • Muslim
    • Moro: 277,547
  • Igorot
    • Igorot: 211,520

Between 1903 and 1941

1939 This census was undertaken in conformity with Section 1 of C. A. 170. It was the first taken under the Commonwealth government with Census day on January 1. The Philippine population figure was 16,000,303.


In 1941 the estimated population of the Philippines reached 17,000,000. Manila's population was 684,000.

The number of Chinese living on the island had risen to 117,000. There were also around 30,000 Japanese living in the Philippines, with some 20,000 of them residing in Davao, Mindanao, and 9,000 Americans lived in Luzon.

By then, some 27% of the population could speak English as a second language, while the number of those able to speak Spanish had further fallen to 3%. Tagalog has been the official language (since 1937), though more people spoke Cebuano at the time.

Successive surveys

On 1960, the government of the Philippines conducted a survey on both population and housing. The population was pegged at 27,087,685. Successive surveys were again conducted on 1970, 1975, 1980, and 1990, which gave the population as 36,684,9486, 42,070,660, 48,098,460, and 60,703,206 respectively. On 1995, the POPCEN was launched, undertaken at the month of September, The data provided the bases for the Internal Revenue Allocation to local government units and for the creation of new legislative areas. The count was made official by then President Fidel Ramos by Proclamation No, 849 on August 14, 1996, was 68,616,536.


Percentage of population in 2003 living below poverty line, by province. Provinces with darker shades have more people living below the poverty line.
Percentage of population in 2003 living below poverty line, by province. Provinces with darker shades have more people living below the poverty line.
  • Population: 89,468,677 (July 2006 est.)
  • Age structure:
    0-14 years: 35% (male 15,961,365; female 15,340,065)
    15-64 years: 61% (male 27,173,919; female 27,362,736)
    65 years and over: 4% (male 1,576,089; female 2,054,503) (2006 est.)
  • Median age:
    total: 22.5 years
    male: 22 years
    female: 23 years (2006 est.)
  • Population growth rate: 1.8% (2006 est.)
  • Birth rate: 24.89 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
  • Death rate: 5.41 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
  • Net migration rate: -1.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
  • Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
    total population: 1 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
  • Infant mortality rate:
    total: 22.81 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 25.59 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 19.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
  • Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 77.21 years
    male: 70.32 years
    female: 75.24 years (2006 est.)
  • Total fertility rate: 3.11 children born/woman (2005 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - People living with HIV/AIDS: 9,000 (2003 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 500 (2003 est.)
  • Nationality:
    noun: Filipino
    adjective: Philippine
  • Ethnic groups: Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon/Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Waray 3.4%, other 25.3% (2000 census)
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Protestant 11%, Islam 5%, Buddhism and Taoism 2%, Hinduism and Sikhism 2% (2000 census)
  • Languages: two official languages - Filipino (formerly Pilipino, based on Tagalog) and English; eight major regional languages - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligayno, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinense and Spanish
  • Literacy:
    definition: age 6 and over can read and write
    total population: 97.6%
    male: 92.5%
    female: 92.7% (2002 est.)

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