Philippines Population and Economy 1995
The population of the Philippines (68.6 million residents at the 1995 census, which rose in 1998, according to an estimate, to 72.9 million) continues to grow at a very rapid rate; as a result, the pressure on resources is very strong and the level of economic and social development has dropped considerably: it is estimated that just under a third of the population lives below the poverty line. The birth rate remains at high values (30, 4 ‰ in the period 1990 – 95) against a mortality rate dropped to 6, 4 ‰. The capital, Manila, has increased from 1,598,900 residents In the1990 to over 1,654,000 residents in 1995, and in the entire urban agglomeration, Greater Manila, nearly 8, 6 million residents.
Although very serious social and territorial imbalances remain, in recent years the democratization process and the achieved political stability have favored a moderate economic recovery in the country. GDP marks slight but steady progress (1 % annual average in the 1980-90 period, 2.9 % in the 1990-96 period, 5.7 % in 1996 and 5.1 % in 1997), while inflation and unemployment rates appear low. Other favorable signs appeared in the second half of the 1990s: the reduction in interest rates, the stability of the local currency against the dollar, the public budget surplus, the increase in foreign exchange reserves and the very strong increase in remittances. of the 4millions of workers abroad, after the liberalization of exchange control. Moreover, foreign investors have returned to look with interest at the possibilities offered by the country: US capital prevails, followed by Japanese ones and those of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Among the less positive notes we must remember the heavy public debt, internal but above all foreign, equal to about half of the gross domestic product, and the serious financial and stock market crisis which, in 1997 and especially in 1998, involved many countries of the South- East Asia and, consequently, also the Philippine market.
Just under half of the population must consider itself rural and, given that the economy of the Philippines continues to be essentially based on agriculture, the most recent government economic plans have introduced measures to promote the growth of the sector and started a new partial (10 %) redistribution of landed property.
Rice and corn are the most widespread crops (respectively covering 39, 5 and 30 % of cultivated land), but their unit yields are rather low: 2856 kg / ha for rice in 1996 (against a world average of 3730 kg / ha) and 1518 kg / ha for maize (world average 4117 kg / ha). Among the crops destined for export, those of sugar cane predominate, the production of which feeds numerous sugar factories (over 18 million q of sugar in 1996), of the coconut palm, which supplies copra, nuts and oil, of the tobacco, whose product, very valuable, is widely requested by the world market. The forest, which occupies 45, 3 % of the land area, has produced 39.857 million cubic meters of timber in 1995, while some plantations of Hevea provide discrete rubber quantities (over 2 million q in 1996). Breeding continues to be underdeveloped: cattle prevail (including buffaloes, also employed in the work of the rice fields), reared in increasingly rational ways, pigs and poultry. On the other hand, fishing is very active, the product of which has in the local diet an importance comparable to that of rice: in 1994 2,276,200 t of fish were landed, equal to about 34 kg / resident. The weight of mining production (copper, nickel, chromium, gold and silver), which fuel modest international trade, appears to be decreasing. The extraction of oil and natural gas is still insufficient to cover internal needs; and the situation should change with exploitation (planned for 2001) of a substantial underwater deposit discovered north of the island of Palawan.
The industrial sector is strongly oriented towards the production of goods for the internal market, with particular regard to the agri-food sector, which annually generates about 36 % of the industrial added value of the country, but there is no lack of export- oriented sectors, such as chemicals (12 % of industrial added value), textiles (11 %) and electronics and electromechanical components, favored by a still low-cost but skilled labor force. Services participate for almost half in the formation of GDP, with an annual increase of 4 % between 1985 and 1995. Of great importance for the economy of the country is the tourism sector: in1996 visited the Philippines over 2 million people, for a total currency income of over 2, 4 billion dollars. The trade balance is negative: the main exchanges take place with the United States and Japan, but trade with other Asian countries and with some European countries is intensifying.