How Many Islands Are There In The Philippines? Answer: 7,641 Islands

The Philippines has more islands than it did before. The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) announced that the country has 7,641 islands instead of 7,107. This was the result of the Philippine Islands Measurement Project.

Map of the Philippines
Map of the Philippines

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the additional 534 islands were “new” islands which were not on the map before. He also gave three reasons for the discoveries:

  • New technology used in the project which was able to detect the new islands
  • Maps made with high-resolution graphics showed more islands
  • Changing landforms like islets which rose from the sea.

However, this does not mean that there was an appreciable increase in the land area. The new count included mostly small islands and islets. It is also possible that these islands were already known to locals, but were not included on any official maps.


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Palawan Underground River
Palawan Underground River

There are some benefits to having more islands. If at all, there would be an increase in places to visit as well as beaches to explore. From a tourism standpoint, this could help with ecotourism. Visiting these islands would also entail boat rides from the nearest populated beach, port or fishing village.

How Many Islands Are There In The Philippines?
How Many Islands Are There In The Philippines?

Filipinos have long joked about the country having 7,107 islands, more or less, depending on whether it is low tide or high tide. Although the Philippines is not noted for having high tides, the new islands and islets would most probably be like those found in the Pag-asa Island group, composed of sand with the highest elevation being the top of the coconut tree.

What is intriguing about the new islets is the number of islets which may be large sand bars. These are typically made by the action of the waves and sea currents. Sand bars are also more transient, with some being formed quite fast, and then disappearing soon after, although there are also sand bars which have grown and where vegetation (including coconut trees) have sprouted.

Islet in Coron Palawan
Islet in Coron Palawan

Mapping technologies are getting better than ever and even regular citizens can order high-resolution maps from providers online. It is possible for Filipinos to also engage in counting islands with the use of these high-resolution maps. Recent news told of a boy from the UK who discovered a lost ancient city in the Central Americas with the use of Google Maps, among other resources.

The NAMRIA, as a government agency has been continuously updating maps with the use of new mapping technologies. It is not far-fetched to expect that they would be updating the Philippine map in shorter cycles soon.

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