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December 2012



Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippine island of Mindanao bringing heavy rains and gusts of winds over 200 km/h (130mph). A typhoon is a hurricane that occurs in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the International Date Line. Hurricanes occur in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the International Dateline; cyclones in the Southwest Indian Ocean. A cyclone is an atmospheric closed circulation that rotates counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Philippines, slightly larger than Arizona, lies in Southeastern Asia, an archipelago comprised of over 7,000 islands between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam. The climate is tropical marine with monsoons in the northeast from November to April and monsoons in the southwest from May to October. The terrain is mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands. Philippines' natural resources include: timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, and copper. The natural hazards facing the country include: typhoons, landslides, active volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; following the Spanish-American War, they were ceded to the United States in 1898. In 1935, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. In 1942, the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II; the US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946, the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. A 20-year rule by Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph Estrada was elected president in 1998. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in January 2001. Macapagal-Arroyo was elected to a six-year term in May 2004. Benigno Aquino III was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2010.

Minanao is the second-largest island of the Philippines. Its terrain is generally mountainous and heavily forested. Mount Apo, an active volcano, is the highest peak (2,954 m/ 9,690 ft). Mindanao lies below the typhoon belt, and its climate is considered to be more favorable than that of Luzon. Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, and other fruits, as well as rice and corn are grown on the island.

CIA World Factbook; United States Geological Survey; The Columbia Gazetteer, 11/2012; 12/2012; 12/2012

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