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Philippines, Population

Filipinos are primarily descended from Malayan peoples who migrated to the islands thousands of years ago. During the past several centuries, a significant number of people have migrated from China. Some people of Spanish descent settled in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period (1565-1898). The term Filipino originally described a person of Spanish descent born in the Philippines. In the 19th century it began to refer to the Christianized Malays who constituted the majority of the population. Although the term remains closely associated with this group, it also can describe any citizen of the Philippines.

The Philippines had a population of 65,036,621 in 1990. The estimated population in 2002 was 84,525,639. The population is growing by about 2 percent a year, giving the Philippines one of the world’s highest population-growth rates. The high birthrate contributes to a predominantly young population; in 2001 about 57 percent of the population was under the age of 25. The average population density is 282 persons per sq km (730 per sq mi). However, the distribution of the population is uneven; some areas are virtually uninhabited, while others are densely populated. The percentage of the population living in rural areas has steadily declined in recent decades. It decreased from 68 percent in 1970 to 57 percent in 1990. By 2000 urban dwellers outnumbered rural residents, with only 42 percent of the population living in rural areas.

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