The Philippines, known as the Pearl of the Orient, is an archipelago of 7107 islands, bounded on the west by the South China Sea, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Sulu and Celebes Sea, and on the north by the Bashi Channel. The northernmost islands are about 240 km south of Taiwan and the southernmost islands approximately 24 km from Borneo. The country has a total land area ... [Show full abstract] of some 300 000 km ² . It is divided into three geographical areas: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It has 17 regions, 79 provinces, 115 cities, 1495 municipalities and 41 956 barangays (the smallest geographic and political unit). It has over 100 ethnic groups and a myriad of foreign influences (including Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American).