The Philippine Islands, numbering in all some 2,000, large and small, lie off the southern coast of Asia between longitude 120 and 130, and latitude 5 and 20 approximately. They have a land area of about 140,000 square miles, with an estimated population of from 7,500,000 to 10,000,000, the majority being principally Malays, not yet brought under control.
The six New England States, New York, and New Jersey, have about an equivalent area. The island of Luzon, on which the capital city (Manila) is situated, is the largest member of the group, being about the size of the State of New York. Mindanao is nearly as large, but its population is very much smaller. The latest estimates of areas of the largest islands are as follows: Luzon, 44,400; Mindanao, 34,000; Samar, 4,800; Panay, 4,700; Mindoro, 4,000; Leyte, 3,800; Negros, 3,300; Cebu, 2,400.
The islands have belonged to Spain since 1565. The friars of the Roman Catholic church have largely dominated the various communities in the more civilized districts. There are thirty different races, speaking thirty dialects.
By an oversight the islands of Cibitu and Cagayan were overlooked in the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain in 1898. They are situated at the southern end of the Philippine archipelago, and have a population of 7,000. The omission was discovered in 1900, and to avoid the embarrassment of having the islands fall into the possession of some other power than Spain, to be used as a naval station, the United States agreed by treaty to pay Spain $100,000 for them.
The thermometer during July and August rarely goes below 79 degrees or above 85 degrees. The extreme ranges in a year are said to be 61 degrees and 97 degrees, and the annual mean 81 degrees. There are three well-marked seasons, temperate and dry from November to February, hot and dry from March to May, and temperate and wet from June to October. The rainy season reaches its maximum in July and August, when the rains are constant and very heavy The total rainfall has been as high as 114 inches in one year.
Yellow fever appears to be unknown. The diseases most fatal among the natives are cholera and smallpox, both of which are brought from China Low malarial fever is brought on by sleeping on the ground or being chilled by remaining without exercise in wet clothes; and diarrhoea is produced by drinking bad water or eating excessive quantities of fruit. Almost all of these diseases are preventable by proper precautions even by troops in campaign.
The mineral wealth of the islands is unknown.
Although agriculture is the chief occupation of the Filipinos, yet only one-ninth of the surface is under cultivation. The soil is very fertile, and even after deducting the mountainous areas it is probable that the area of cultivation can be very largely extended and that the islands can support population equal to that of Japan (42,000,000).
The chief products are rice, corn, hemp, sugar, tobacco, cocoanuts, and cacao. Coffee and cotton were formerly produced in large quantities--the former for export and the latter for home consumption; but the coffee plant has been almost exterminated by insects and the home-made cotton cloths have been driven out by the competition of those imported from England. The rice and corn are principally produced in Luzon and Mindoro and are consumed in the islands. The rice crop is about 765,000 tons. It is insufficient for the demand, and 45,000 tons of rice were imported in 1894, the greater portion from Saigon and the rest from Hong-Kong and Singapore; also 8,669 tons (say 60,000 barrels) of flour, of which more than two-thirds came from China and less than one-third from the United States. The cacao is raised in the southern islands, the best quality of it at Mindanao. The sugar-cane is raised in the Visayas. The crop yielded in 1894 about 235,000 tons of raw sugar, of which one-tenth was consumed in the islands, and the balance, or 210,000 tons, valued at $11,000,000, was exported, the greater part to China, Great Britain, and Australia. The hemp is produced in Southern Luzon, Mindoro, the Visayas, and Mindanao. It is nearly all exported in bales. In 1894 the amount was 96,000 tons, valued at $12,000,000. Tobacco is raised in all the islands, but the best quality and greatest amount in Luzon. A large amount is consumed in the islands, smoking being universal among women as well as the men, but the best quality is exported. The amount in 1894 was 7,000 tons of leaf tobacco, valued at $1,750,000. Cocoanuts are grown in Southern Luzon and are used in various ways.
The following statement of the trade between various countries and the Philippines covers the fiscal year 1890-1897, and it should be carefully studied by all interested in trade expansion:
Countries. Imports from Philippines. Exports to Philippines. Great Britain. $6,223,426 $2,063,598 France 1,990,297 359,796 Germany 223,720 774,928 Belgium 272,240 45,660 Spain 4,819,344 4,973,589 Japan 1,332,300 92,823 China 56,137 97,717 India 7,755 80,156 Straits Settlements 274,130 236,001 New South Wales 119,550 176,858 Victoria 180 178,370 United States 4,383,740 94,597
Total $19,702,819 $9,174,093
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, the exports from the United States to the Philippines had increased to $2,640,499, and the imports from the Philippines to $5,971,208. The total imports in the island in the fiscal year were $12,670,436, and exports $8,305,530.
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