Short and Simple: EXACTLY HOW MANY ISLANDS ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Do you really know exactly the official number of islands1 in the Philippines, whether it is high tide or low tide?

Admit it, dearest Filipino Seniors, we grew up knowing there are 7, 107 islands in our beloved country. Well, as of 2016, not anymore!

There are currently 7,641 islands in the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page, “List of islands of the Philippines”!2 An additional 534 islands were added, mostly located in the Mindanao region.3

Now, you might ask: who gave the official announcement and why is this so?

Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) made the announcement during the Philippine Environment Summit on February 2016.

It seems that the Philippines embarked on a 2013 Philippine Islands Measurements Project headed by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA)4 which is responsible for the official count of our islands.5

All these additional islands/islets were detected/located by an Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR or IfSAR)6 and will be included in a new map which will be released soon (how soon, it was not specified!). It seems this new equipment is more advanced to detect landmasses than those used in the past using older technology. These new islands can also be attributed to changing land forms.5

So, dear Seniors, the next time someone asks you how many islands our country has, you know the updated answer: The Philippines officially has 7,641 islands! Better still, tell your friends and relatives, especially those abroad, that there are now 534 new reasons to visit our beloved country!

Go see the links below if you want to know more about the different kinds of landmasses6.

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1An island/isle is a large, isolated landmass7 that is surrounded by water but not as large as a continent8, according to the Wikipedia page, “Island”. Source: “Island,” accessed March 3, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island.

2“List of islands of the Philippines,” accessed March 3, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_islands_of_the_Philippines.

3www.philstar.com

 4The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) is a government agency under the Department of National Resources (DENR) in the Philippines responsible for providing mapping services and collection of pertinent data used in facilitating natural resources required in creating charts, maps and statistics. Visit its website: www.namria.gov.ph

5 www.cnnphilippines.com

6Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) is a new high-resolution radar-mapping technique used to generate maps of landmasses4, using a satellite.

7A landmass is a large area of continuous land (i.e., in one piece), mostly surrounded by water (not broken up by a body of water). A landmass can be called an island1 if it is above sea level, and on high tide, it should remain above water at any given time. It should also be capable of supporting plant and/or animal life through hard substrates9.3

8A continental is a very large landmass4 of the world. Recall, Seniors, that there are 7 (largest to smallest): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia, according to the Wikipedia page, “Continent”. Source: “Continent,” accessed March 3, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continent.

9A substrate is a layer of substance that has something underneath it that goes through a process in which an organism can thrive and live. The NAMRIA4 can collect samples of actual sediments from the surface of a landmass6 through shallow digging.

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