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1 . Philippines     Philippines
The Philippines are a large and complex mass of over 7 000 islands making up the north of insular Southeast Asia. Together with Indonesia to the south, the Philippines lie in the center of global coral reef biodiversity and have a vast area of reefs.

In the far north the archipelago commences with the Batanes and Babuyan Islands in the Luzon Strait, just south of Taiwan. The northern third of Luzon itself is highly mountainous and parts remain heavily forested, while the central parts are predominantly agricultural with large areas of low-lying land. Relatively close to Luzon are the islands of Mindoro and Marinduque, the former mountainous and still largely under forest. South of Luzon lies a complex mass of islands known as the Visayas, including Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar, centered around the Visayan Sea which, despite the tight configuration of islands, reaches a depth of more than 200 meters in some places. The southernmost major island is Mindanao, which lies separated from the Visayas by the Bohol Sea. This is another mountainous island, with a narrow shelf on all sides. The Philippines Trench to the east of Mindanao and Samar reaches depths of more than 10 000 meters at a distance of less than 80 kilometers from shore. Stretching to the southwest from Mindanao is a chain of islands known as the Sulu Archipelago, coming close to the coastline of Sabah in Malaysia and separating the Sulawesi (Celebes) Sea in the south from the Sulu Sea to the north. There are several remote islands and atolls in the central Sulu Sea, while its northern edge is marked by the long mountainous island of Palawan as well as various smaller ones.

The eastern side of the country borders the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean and is affected by the ocean currents of the Pacific. The North Equatorial Current reaches this coastline and divides, with a northward branch flowing up the coast of the Visayas and Luzon, becoming the Kuroshio Current as it flows towards Taiwan and Japan. The southward branch flows along the east coast of Mindanao as the Mindanao Current. The western side of the country, facing the South China and Sulu Seas, is more directly affected by the reversing pattern of the monsoon winds.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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