The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, mostly uninhabited and lots of them still unnamed. The largest of these islands is Luzon where the capital of the country - Manila - can be found. It is also one of the three main divisions of the Philippines, the other two being Visayas and Mindanao. Mindanao comes second with a land area of 97,530 sq km. Meanwhile, the Visayas is a cluster of islands that includes Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar.
The culture, languages and the people are as diverse as the flora and fauna of the country. Indigenous peoples can be found in the mountains of Mindanao, such as the T'bolis and B'laans. Up north in Luzon, Ifugaos inhabit the Cordillera region. Each tribe also has its own beliefs and practices. Celebrations, festivals, parades and processions abound even in highly urbanized areas.
Gastronomic recipes with different characteristics define the taste of the people. Bicolanos are known for spicy foods like their Bicol Express. Places are also known for a particular delicacy or produce. Bacolod is known for its piaya while Davao is identified with durian.
If you find yourself in rural areas, you might spot animals endemic to the region. Watch out for pigs in stripes (Visayan warty pig) or large rats (Northern Luzon giant cloud rat) which thankfully reside in the forest rather than being a housemate. Among the famous characters in the animal kingdom are the tarsier, the Philippine spotted deer, and a crocodile who goes by the name of Lolong. Unfortunately, Lolong died in February 2013.