How many islands are there in the Philippines? While most people would say “7107 islands”, this is no longer the case.
The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) has discovered previously unknown islands that have increased the count to 7641.
Then Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje announced the discovery during the Philippine Environment Summit in February 2016.
Though the discovery is only gaining traction now thanks to social media.
The Philippine Islands Measurements Project discovered the “new” islands using the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR), a new high-resolution mapping system.
Traditional boat along Loboc river in Bohol island.
Once discovered by IFSAR, NAMRIA had to do ground validation on all the islands discovered in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Ground validation is photographing the seabed where the islands are located. It includes taking samples of actual sediments from the islands through shallow digging.
Paje said that the new islands were undiscovered for so long due to the technology that they were using at the time.
Changing landforms also contributed to the islands remaining “hidden”.
The new discoveries mean a couple of things for the country: additional land area and increased coastal economic zone.
On one hand, the additional land area presents more opportunities for agricultural and scientific exploration.
On the other, the increased coastal economic zone means more locations for ocean exploration and the fishing industry.
Benham Rise is one such addition to the Philippine coastal economic zone. The 13 million undersea region located on the coasts of Isabela and Aurora has increased the country’s territory from 30 million hectares to 43 million hectares. It is also rich in solid methane and natural gas, which would be greatly beneficial to the country.
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