The Philippines is located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Viet Nam and north of Indonesia and Malaysia. It is composed of 7,107 islands covering a total area of 300,000 square kilometers. Its major island groups are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Over 60 per cent of the population lives in coastal areas. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half of the entire population. The Philippines has vast natural resources that provide food, water, shelter and livelihood for its rapidly growing population. It is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, accruing to its geographical isolation, diverse habitats and high rates of endemism.
The Philippines ranks fifth in number of plant species, and maintains five per cent of the world’s flora. Species endemism is very high, counting at least 25 genera of plants and 49 per cent of terrestrial wildlife. It also ranks fourth in bird endemism. In terms of fishes, there are about 3,214 species (incomplete list), with about 121 being endemic, 76 of which are rated as under threat. Unfortunately, the Philippines is also one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of endangered and threatened species, thus, making it one of the top global conservation priority areas.