The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila.
The country's rich biodiversity is one of the main tourist attractions with its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots among the most popular tourist destinations. As an archipelago consisting of about 7,641 islands, the Philippines has numerous beaches, caves and other rock formations. Boracay has glaring white sand beaches and was named as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2012. The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Magellan's Cross in Cebu and the Tubbataha Reef in the Visayas are other highlights. The Philippines is also one of the favourite retirement destinations for foreigners due to its warm climate all year round, beaches and low cost of living.
The Philippines has at least 144 distinct ethnolinguistic groups (all are classified as Filipinos, both mainstream and indigenous, by the government), each having their own distinct cultures. Each region of the Philippines has different traditions, honed and conserved by numerous ethnic groups distinct from each other. Currently, there are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered in nine different locations (Vigan, Santa Maria Church Complex, Paoay Church Complex, San Agustin Church Complex, Miagao Church Complex, Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras which includes five different rice terrace clusters, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Underground River of Puerto Princesa, and Mount Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary), two UNESCO World Heritage Cities (Vigan and Miagao), one UNESCO Creative City (Baguio), three UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (Palawan Biosphere Reserve, Albay Biosphere Reserve, and Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve), seven Ramsar Wetland Sites (Las Piñas-Parañaque, Lake Naujan, Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha Reefs, Olango, Agusan Marsh, and Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands), and eight ASEAN Heritage Parks (Mount Apo National Park, Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park, Mount kitanglad National Park, Mount Makiling National Park, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Mount Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary, and Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok National Park) in the Philippines. The last three lists reinforce the title of the Philippines as one of the biodiversity hotspots declared by Conservation International.