More than 7,100 islands fall within the borders of the Philippines hotspot, identified as one of the world’s biologically richest countries.
Many endemic species are confined to forest fragments that cover only 7 percent of the original extent of the hotspot. This includes over 6,000 plant species and many birds species such as the Cebu flowerpecker, the Philippine cockatoo, the Visayan wrinkled hornbill, and the enormous Philippine eagle. Amphibian endemism is also unusually high and boosts unique species like the panther flying frog.
The Philippines is also one of the most endangered areas. Historically logged for timber products, today, the forests are also being cleared for farming needs and for developments to accommodate the nations growing population.
†Recorded extinctions since 1500. *Categories I-IV afford higher levels of protection.
|Hotspot Original Extent (km²)
|Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km²)
|Endemic Plant Species
|Endemic Threatened Birds
|Endemic Threatened Mammals
|Endemic Threatened Amphibians
|Human Population Density (people/km²)
|Area Protected (km²)
|Area Protected (km²) in Categories I-IV*
The world's second largest archipelago country after Indonesia, the Philippines includes more than 7,100 islands covering 297,179 km² in the westernmost Pacific Ocean. The Philippines lies north of Indonesia and directly east of Vietnam. The country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation.
The archipelago is formed from a series of isolated fragments that have long and complex geological histories, some dating back 30-50 million years. With at least 17 active volcanoes, these islands are part of the “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific Basin. The archipelago stretches over 1,810 kilometers from north to south. Northern Luzon is only 240 kilometers from Taiwan, Province of China, (with which it shares some floristic affinities), and the islands off southwestern Palawan are only 40 kilometers from Malaysian Borneo. The island of Palawan, which is separated from Borneo by a channel some 145 meters deep, has floristic affinities with both the Philippines and Borneo in the Sundaland Hotspot, and strong faunal affinities with the Sunda Shelf.
Hundreds of years ago, most of the Philippine islands were covered in rain forest. The bulk of the country was blanketed by lowland rainforests dominated by towering dipterocarps (Dipterocarpaceae), prized for their beautiful and straight hardwood. At higher elevations, the lowland forests are replaced by montane and mossy forests that consist mostly of smaller trees and vegetation. Small regions of seasonal forest, mixed forest and savanna, and pine-dominated cloud forest covered the remaining land area.