Capital city Manila
Surface 299,764 km²
Population 109,035,000
Road network length 39,590 km
Length of highway network 468 km
First highway 1970’s
Motorway name Expressway
Traffic drives Right
License plate code RP

The Philippines / Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas) is an archipelago and country in Asia. The country consists of 7,107 islands and has an area of ​​299,764 km², or more than 7 times the Netherlands. The capital is Manila, the largest city is Quezon City. The country has 109 million inhabitants.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the archipelago is located in eastern Asia, surrounded by a number of seas such as the South China Sea to the west, the Strait of Luzon to the north, the Philippines Sea to the east, the Celebes Sea to the south, and the Sulu Sea to the southwest.. The country is located about 1,200 kilometers east of Vietnam, 100 to 500 kilometers northeast of Malaysia, about 400 kilometers north of Indonesia, 375 kilometers south of Taiwan and 800 kilometers southeast of China. It has no land borders with other countries.

The main islands are Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. The capital Manila is located on Luzon, and is part of Metro Manila, which has 11.5 million inhabitants. Quezon City is somewhat larger than Manila, but falls under the same metropolitan area. Of the 20 largest cities, 11 are located in the Metro Manila region. The largest cities outside this area are Davao, Cebu, Zamboanga and Antipolo.

The Philippines has more than 36,000 kilometers of coastline. The country consists mainly of volcanic mountains, covered with tropical rainforest. Mount Apo is the highest point at 2,954 meters. The country has few large rivers because the size of the islands is relatively limited. Natural disasters occur in the form of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and typhoons.


The population of the Philippines grew very rapidly during the 20th century. In 1900 only 7 million people lived there, growing to 20 million in 1950 and more than 75 million in 2000. In 2015, the limit of 100 million inhabitants was reached. See Philippines population density. There are plenty of major cities, many of which are in the National Capital Region around Manila. The largest city outside this region is the southern city of Davao. There are 20 cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants. Half of the population lives on the island of Luzon. The Philippines has a significant diaspora, especially in the United States and the Middle East.

The country has diverse ethnicities, the largest group being the Tagalog with approximately 28%. The Philippines has many regional ethnicities, often by island or island group, with some major islands having multiple ethnicities. More than 180 languages ​​are spoken in the country, but Filipino (Tagalog) is the umbrella language in the country. English is also relatively widely spoken, including in the media.


The economy of the Philippines consists of contradictions, there is a fairly large middle class, but also a large part of the population that is poor. In the 1960s, the Philippines was considered the richest country in Asia after Japan, but the rule of Ferdinand Marcos caused the economy to collapse. By 2010, the Philippines had the 47th largest economy in the world.


In 1521, the Portuguese explorer Magellan reached the Philippines on behalf of Spain. In 1543 the island group was given the name Las Islas Filipinas, named after Philip II of Spain. It was not until 1565 that the first Spanish settlement was founded. The Philippines was then part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. Between 1896 and 1898, the Philippine Revolution took place and the First Philippine Republic was established. This republic was short-lived because it was actually a transition from Spanish rule to American rule. The archipelago was occupied by Japan during World War II. Shortly after the war in 1946, the Philippines gained independence from the United States. Between 1965 and 1986 the country was ruled by Ferdinand Marcos, which culminated in a dictatorship in 1972.

Road Network

The Philippines’ road network is underdeveloped due to the country’s mountainous terrain, overcrowded cities, and scattered geography. Around Manila are highways, and a number of radial connections to other cities on the island of Luzon. Most of these are modern toll roads, many with names abbreviated to four letters, such as the North Luzon Expressway called the NLEx and the Subic – Clark – Tarlac Expressway called the SCTEx. There is a congested and substandard ring road around Manila, but because of the coast and a large lake, the agglomeration is almost impossible to get around. There are no highways on other islands.

The first highways were built in the 1970s, namely the first sections of the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway. The other highways are newer. Since the 1990s, a second superhighway has been built on the South Luzon Expressway, the Manila Skyway.


Expressways in the Philippines
Cavite – Laguna Expressway • Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) • Circumferential Road 5 (E5) • Epifanio de los Santos Avenue • Laguna Lakeshore Expressway • Manila – Cavite Expressway (E3) • Metro Manila Skyway (E2) • Muntinlupa – Cavite Expressway • NAIA Expressway • North Luzon Expressway (E1) • North Luzon East Expressway • North Luzon West Expressway • South Luzon Expressway (E2) • Subic – Clark – Tarlac Expressway (E4) • Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) •Tarlac – Pangasinan – La Union Expressway (E1) • Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEx)

National primary roads

National primary roads in the Philippines

Asian Highways

Asian Highways in Philippines

Road numbering

A road numbering system came into effect in the Philippines in 2014, distinguishing between national primary roads and national secondary roads. In addition, expressways are numbered separately with the prefix ‘E’. National tertiary roads are not numbered because they have only a local function.

By far the most important national primary road is the N1, which runs from Laoag on the north coast of Luzon to Zamboanga on the southwest tip of Minandao, via Manila, Tacloban and Davao.

National primary roads have a one- or two-digit road number. National secondary roads have a three-digit road number. There is no prefix on the signage, but the ‘N’ is used in written language.

The N1 to N49 are major thoroughfares connecting three or more cities. The N50 to N99 are main roads between two cities. The N100 to N999 are secondary roads. Almost all numbers between N10 and N49 are skipped.


The roads are heavily based on the US Interstate Highways, but the signage has more similarities with the less developed systems in South America, such as that of Argentina or Brazil. Clearview is used on newer signs, and there is a clear improvement in signage between generations. The signage consists of green signs with white letters. Road numbers are not indicated, one has to be aware of all kinds of abbreviations that are used for the highway names.

Philippines Location Map