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"From the cape of California, being the uttermost part of Neuva Espanna, I navigated to the Islands of the Philippinas hard upon the coast of China; of which countrey I have brought such intelligence as hath not bene heard of in these parts. The statelinesse and riches of which countrey I feare to make report of, least I should not be credited; for if I had not knowen sufficiently the incomparable wealth of the countrey, I should have bene as incredulous thereof, as others will be that have not had the like experience." Thomas Candish to Lord Hunsdon (1588), Hakluyt's Principle Navigations, XI, p. 376.
The Philippine Archipelago
Location-Number and Extent of the Islands-Configuration Character of the Coasts-Rivers Underground River-Mountain Streams—The RainfallLocation of Cities–Mountains and Forests—Volcanoes-Earthquakes--Coast
toimuder O eans the maintenant Line-Ocean Currents-Fauna and Flora-Minerals Fish and Fishing, Climate.
At some remote time while continents were in the making, the long eastern coast of Asia which looked out upon the Pacific Ocean was crushed, wrenched, torn and flung about by the gigantic forces of nature. After the cataclysm, when things had settled down, turbulent new seas were washing the shores of the continent and the ocean was held at bay by a line of islands which extended from the far north southward until they spread fanlike toward the continent of Australia. A far-flung line of defense had been created along the entire eastern front of Asia. But it was not all above the surface of the sea. There were depressions, and elevations, high mountains and deep channels. Ever since the upheaval, the forces of nature have been at work molding and shaping the crushed and broken mass.
The islands thus formed are clustered together in well-defined groups. The northern and central have become the home of an Asiatic people who aspire to rival the Anglo-Saxons, who from their seagirt home rule over one-fifth of the earth and its people. From the southernmost point of the Japanese island of Formosa can be seen, on a clear day, the northernmost of that Philippine group of islands which extends far to the southward
Celebes, which with Java and its satellites form yet another aggregation.
The Philippine Archipelago thus lies north of the Dutch and British island of Borneo and the Dutch island of Celebes, south of the Japanese island of Formosa, and east of French Indo-China, the British colony of Hong Kong, and the southern provinces of the quondam Celestial Republic of China. It extends from five degrees north latitude to twenty-two degrees north latitude, and is thus entirely within the tropics. An isosceles triangle approximately five hundred miles on its base and a thousand miles on the sides would enclose all except the Sulu Group of coral islands, which would be left south of the base line and almost within sight of the fringes of Borneo. Within this figure there are about 3,141 islands, in sizes from the tiny islet inhabited only by strange tropical birds, to Luzon, with its millions of inhabitants and area greater than the state of Pennsylvania. The total land area of the Philippine Archipelago is 115,026 square miles, thus exceeding the combined area of the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and being seven thousand square miles larger than Great Britain. Two of the islands combined are greater than all of New England with the states of New York and New Jersey added. Luzon in the north contains 40,969 square miles. Mindanao is reported to contain 36,292 square miles, although recent surveys suggest the possibility that it is larger than Luzon. Nine islands, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Cebu, Panay, Leyte, Bohol, Mindoro, and Masbate, each contains more than ten thousand square miles, or six million four hundred thousand acres. Twenty of the islands each contains between one hundred and one thousand square miles. Seventythree islands each contains between ten and one hundred square miles, 262 islands between one and ten square miles, and 2,775 islands, or seven-eighths of all, contain less than one square mile each. That is, seven-eighths of all the islands are so small that each one contains less than 640 acres of land. When the 1905 Philippine census was published 1,668 of the islands had received names, while 1,473 had not yet attained to that dignity.
Three partially submerged isthmuses join the Philippine Archipelago to Borneo and Celebes. On the west the connection is between the northwest coast of Borneo and the southernmost point of the long narrow island of Palawan. The strait of Balabac which lies between Palawan and Borneo is full of reefs and islands. The central connection runs from the northern coast of Borneo through the Tawi-Tawi, Jolo and Basilan groups to the southwestern point of Mindanao near Zamboanga. Between these connections lies the Sulu Sea with an average depth of six thousand feet. Farther east, a third isthmus extends from Celebes through the Sanguil group to the southeast point of Mindanao near the gulf of Davao, thence northward in a great curve through Leyte, Samar, and southern Luzon. Between the eastern and western connections lies the deep Celebes Sea. On these submerged connections there are many coral reefs which often lie dangerously near the surface of the warm shallow waters.
The Philippines face the setting sun and the shore of Asia from which they were torn. During the greater part of the year equatorial currents and trade winds pile the waters of the Pacific on the bold and inhospitable eastern coast, rendering the few harbors dangerous and useless. The western coast is broken by inlets, bays and harbors. Between the coast line and the verdure covered mountains in the hazy distance, lie long stretches of fertile level country shaded by cocoanut palm and banana trees, beneath which are many villages teeming with brown people. White convent buildings and church steeples rise above the verdure and suggest life and civilization to the voyager whose ship day after day skirts the island shores.
Numerous rivers find their sources in the mountains, and after rushing through narrow gorges, meander slowly across the plains and fall sluggishly into the sea. These short streams form invaluable highways for the transportation in small boats of the produce of the country. The Cagayan River in northern Luzon, the Father Nile of the Philippines, flows into the Pacific at Apirri and is navigable for large steamers to the upper reaches where grows most of the tobacco for which the island is famous. Sixty