Background Notes: Philippines, October 1998
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of the Philippines

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).
Cities: (1997) Capital--Manila (pop. 10.4 million in metropolitan 
area). Other cities--Davao (1.3 million), Cebu (3.1 million).
Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.
Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

People

Nationality: Noun--Filipino(s). Adjective--Philippine.
Population (1997): 73 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%.
Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.
Religions: Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and 
other 3%.
Languages: Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; 
English, language of government and instruction in higher 
education.
Education: Years compulsory--6. Attendance above 97% in 
elementary grades, 55% in secondary grades. Literacy--94%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1997)--35.2/1,000. Life expectancy 
(1997)--66 yrs.
Work force (1997): 30 million. Agriculture--47%. Government and 
services--37%. Industry and commerce--16%.

Government

Type: Republic.
Independence: 1946.
Constitution: February 11, 1987.
Branches: Executive--president and vice president. Legislative--
bicameral legislature. Judiciary--independent.
Administrative subdivisions: 13 regions and Manila, 78 provinces, 
61 chartered cities.
Political parties: Laban Ng Masang Pilipino (LAMP), Lakas Ng 
Bayan (Lakas/NUCD), and other small parties.
Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Economy

GDP (1997): $82 billion.
Annual growth rate (1997): 5.2%.
GDP per capita (1997): $1,145.
Natural resources: Timber, copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, 
gold.
Agriculture: Sugar, coconut products, rice, corn, pineapples, 
bananas, aquaculture, mangoes, pork, eggs.
Industry: Types--textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, 
chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, 
petroleum refining, fishing.
Trade (1997): Exports--$25.2 billion. Imports--$36.4 billion.

PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants 
of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before 
the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is 
the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since 
the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. 
As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese 
and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next 
largest alien minorities in the country.

About 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and 
Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish 
and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the 
Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and 
western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. 
Small forest tribes live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging 
to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are 
the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three 
principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the 
Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and 
Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to 
develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of 
the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. 
Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, 
particularly as a second language.

English, the most important non-native language, is used as a 
second language by almost half of the population, including 
nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. 
Spanish is spoken by few Filipinos, and its use is decreasing.

Despite this multiplicity of languages, the Philippines has one 
of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. 
About 90% of the population 10 years of age and older are 
literate.

HISTORY

The history of the Philippines may be divided into four distinct 
phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period 
(1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since 
independence (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed 
to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and 
Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. 
Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in 
successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats 
called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, 
also called barangays, which were ruled by chieftains known as 
datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the 
ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, 
introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even 
into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group 
until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippines for Spain in 1521, and 
for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This 
period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish 
colonial social system was developed, complete with a strong 
centralized government and considerable clerical influence. The 
Filipinos were restive under the Spanish, and this long period 
was marked by numerous uprisings. The most important of these 
began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and 
continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in 
Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. 
Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period

Following Admiral Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila 
Bay, the United States occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the 
islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of 
Paris (December 10, 1898), which ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by Revolutionary 
President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. Although Americans have 
traditionally used the term "the Philippine Insurrection," 
Filipinos refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American 
War(1899-1902). In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore 
allegiance to the United States, which ultimately crushed the 
resistance.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be 
temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and 
encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic 
government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the 
creation of such practical supports for democratic government as 
public education and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral 
legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A 
civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the 
Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World 
War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable 
amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the 
Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon 
was elected president of the new government, which was designed 
to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year 
transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 
1942, Corregidor, the last American stronghold, fell. U.S. forces 
in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the 
islands under Japanese control.

The war to regain the Philippines began when General Douglas 
MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and 
Americans fought together until the Japanese surrender in 
September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final 
months of the fighting, and an estimated 1 million Filipinos lost 
their lives in the war.

As a result of the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare 
that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country 
suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. 
Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and 
the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for 
independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the 
independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the 
terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official 
Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, 
commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by 
General Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted 
postwar reconstruction. A communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-
53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful 
suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. 
The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia 
(1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand 
Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform 
programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial 
law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the 
communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 
until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a 
new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 
1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil 
liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree 
and popular referenda. The government began a process of 
political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the 
reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have 
ended in 1987. The Marcos' government's respect for human rights 
remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. 
His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. 
Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in 
economic growth and development under Marcos.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino 
upon his return to the Philippines in 1983,after a long period of 
exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in 
motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap 
presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united 
under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head 
of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO).  The 
election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of 
Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a 
U.S. delegation led by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), 
denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the 
Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising 
that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on 
February 25, 1986. Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. 
Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national 
reconciliation" the highest national priority. He legalized the 
communist party and created the National Unification Commission 
(NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, 
Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President 
Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all 
rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel 
accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In 
October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the 
military insurgency to an end. Although the other peace talks 
have not fully resolved outstanding differences and many of the 
underlying social problems have yet to be addressed, the 
communist and Muslim insurgencies no longer pose a threat to the 
government. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent 
group was signed in 1996.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the 
U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino 
administration, established a presidential system of government 
with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The 
president is limited to one 6-year term. Provision also was made 
in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of 
Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon.

The Philippine Senate is elected at large. There are currently 23 
senators rather than the usual 24, since Senator Gloria 
Macapagal-Arroyo became Vice President in the May 1998 elections 
and a replacement could not be chosen without a national 
election. Two hundred six of a possible 250 members of the House 
of Representatives are elected from the single-member districts. 
The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral 
representatives elected at large through a complex "party list" 
system.

Joseph Estrada took office June 30, 1998, succeeding Fidel Ramos, 
under whom he had served as Vice President. Despite coalitions 
and party identification, members of the Philippine congress tend 
to be independent, changing party affiliation with ease. 
Following his election, President Estrada formed the LAMP party 
out of a tri-partite alliance that had helped him get elected. 
Some members of former President Ramos's Lakas Party defected to 
LAMP. President Estrada has publicly declared that the battles 
against poverty and corruption will be his highest priority.

Principal Government Officials

President--Joseph E. Estrada
Vice President--Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Foreign Secretary--Domingo Siazon, Jr.
Ambassador to the United States--Raul Chaves Rabe
Permanent Representative to the UN--Felipe Mabilangan

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the 
United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 
20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, 
Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).

ECONOMY

Since the end of the Second World War, the Philippine economy has 
had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, 
the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries 
in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth 
immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. A 
severe recession in 1984-1985 saw the economy shrink by more than 
10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino 
administration further dampened economic activity. During his 
administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of 
economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth 
and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period 
of rapid sustained growth, but the spreading Asian financial 
crisis has slowed economic development in the Philippines once 
again. President Estrada has repeatedly said that he will resist 
protectionist measures and continue the reforms begun by the 
Ramos administration.

Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture 
(making up one fifth of economic production) and industry 
(particularly food processing, textiles and garments, electronics 
and automobile parts).  Most industries are concentrated in the 
urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining is also important 
in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of 
chromite, nickel and copper. Recent natural gas finds off the 
islands of Palawan add to the country's substantial geothermal, 
hydro and coal energy reserves.

Today's Economy

For the past year, the Philippines has been less severely 
affected by the Asian financial crisis than its neighbors. While 
that remains true, the continuing crisis has taken its toll on 
the Philippines. The government has recently reiterated its 
target of 2-3% real GNP growth (about one percentage point lower 
for GDP), but private forecasts range as low as negative 2% real 
GDP growth, or lower. Technically, the Philippines is already in 
recession, having seen negative GDP growth (quarter on quarter, 
based on seasonally adjusted figures) for the first two quarters 
of 1998.

Agricultural output in the first half of 1998 was down 7.5% from 
the same period in 1997, because of the El Nino-related drought. 
Agriculture accounts for one fifth of the Philippine economy. A 
sharp rebound in the second half of 1998 is possible, but is not 
guaranteed.  

The Philippines continues to record monthly export figures up 
significantly on year-earlier levels, but examination of the 
month by month export figures had suggested that the export boom 
is running out of steam. Monthly exports were roughly flat from 
September 1997 to June 1998, but have resumed growth since then. 
Electronic and auto parts exports in particular still record 
strong growth, but reports from the U.S. suggests slowing demand 
for computers and other electronic equipment. The Philippines' 
traditional exports are stagnant or declining.

The financial sector has been buffeted by higher interest rates 
which, combined with the region-wide economic slowdown, have 
pushed the level of commercial banks' non-performing loans 
(NPL's) to 9.6% of total loan portfolio. This is still far below 
the levels in several neighboring countries. Analysts expect the 
level of NPL's to reach 15%, a level which will be painful but 
will not threaten collapse of the financial sector.  

The Philippine peso has lost over 40% of its value vis--vis the 
U.S. dollar since mid-1997. The peso will probably continue to 
weaken as the government and the central bank concentrate 
monetary policy on reducing interest rates. The Philippines' 
inflation rate of near 10% means that continued depreciation will 
be necessary to maintain the currency's relative value. Despite 
these near-term problems, the Philippines' longer-term prospects 
remain bright. The Aquino and Ramos administrations opened up the 
relatively closed Philippine economy and provided a firmer base 
for sustainable economic growth. President Estrada and his 
cabinet have stated repeatedly that they will continue with, and 
expand, liberalization and market-based policies and reforms.  If 
the new government is able to overcome transition-related 
uncertainties resulting from sometimes conflicting policy 
signals, it can successfully build on its predecessors' 
accomplishments to position the Philippines for a period of 
sustained growth.

Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises an estimated 26% of the total land 
area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, 
inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and past government 
policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms 
produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for 
export. The agricultural sector employs about 47% of the work 
force but only provides about 22% of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in 
marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical 
implications for the ecological balance. The government has 
instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a 
severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range 
of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the 
aquaculture subsector, the fishing industry continues to face a 
bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds 
and an absence of government support.

Industry

Industrial production is centered on processing and assembly 
operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber 
products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, 
paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small 
appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by 
the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, 
fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.

The industrial sector is concentrated in the urban areas, 
especially in the metropolitan Manila region and has only weak 
linkages to the rural economy. Inadequate infrastructure, 
transportation, communication, and electrical power shortages 
have so far inhibited faster industrial growth.

Mining

The country is well-endowed with mineral and thermal energy 
resources. A recent discovery of oil and gas reserves off Palawan 
Island offers potential in that sector, as well. Philippine 
chromite, nickel, and copper deposits are among the largest in 
the world. Other important minerals include iron, silver, 
manganese, coal, gypsum, sulfur, mercury, and gold. Significant 
deposits of clay, limestone, dolomite, feldspar, marble, silica, 
and phosphate exist. Fifty-nine percent of total mining 
production is accounted for by the mining of copper concentrate 
and gold.

In steady decline since 1989, the value of both mineral 
production ($810 million) and mineral exports ($672 million) of 
the Philippine mining industry declined by 14% in 1992. Low metal 
prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in 
infrastructure have contributed to the mining industry's decline.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive 
relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked 
through membership in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and 
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The 
Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized 
agencies, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)(since 1992) and has 
observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). 
The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years 
and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle 
East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos 
are employed in that region. The fundamental Philippine 
attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its 
foreign policy.

U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and 
commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. 
The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the 
U.S. remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental 
institutions on those of the U.S., and continues to share a 
commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental 
level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a 
strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated 2 
million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States and 
more than 100,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases 
Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major 
facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and 
several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In 
1983 and 1988, the United States and the Philippines completed 
successful reviews and extensions of the Military Bases 
Agreement, as amended. In August 1991, negotiators from the two 
countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use 
of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft 
treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so 
heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that the 
U.S. decided to abandon it.

On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases 
treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the 
two sides could not reach agreement. As a result, the Philippine 
Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would 
have 1 year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly 
and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces 
departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government 
turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the 
Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. 
Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the 
former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay 
serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations 
improved and broadened, focusing more prominently on economic and 
commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security 
dimension. Philippine domestic political stability has resulted 
in increased U.S. investment in the country, while a strong 
security relationship rests on the U.S.-Philippines Mutual 
Defense Treaty. Although U.S. aid to the Philippines has taken on 
a far less prominent role than in the past, assistance programs 
continue, highlighted by the July 1996 opening of a major airport 
and harbor project in General Santos City with U.S. Agency for 
International Development funding. Then-President Ramos 
underscored the strength of the bilateral relationship by 
declaring July 4, 1996 to be Philippine-American Friendship Day 
in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine 
independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998.

Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. trade with the Philippines amounted to over $16.7 
billion in 1997. The strong trade ties between the U.S. and the 
Philippines is reflected in the fact that some 22% of the 
Philippines' imports in 1997 came from the U.S., and about 41% of 
its exports were bound for America. Key exports to the U.S. are 
semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, 
electric machinery, textiles and garments, and coconut oil. In 
addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-
processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, 
electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment and 
cereals and cereal preparations.

U.S. investment in the Philippines is estimated at some $2.5 
billion, slightly more than 29% of all foreign investment in the 
Philippines.  Since the late 1980's, the Philippines has 
committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as 
a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines 
and restrictions in specified areas.  Under President Ramos, the 
Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and 
telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as 
securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and 
membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, 
President Estrada has said his administration will continue such 
reforms, a position which generally enjoys domestic political 
support.

During the last few years, the relatively closed Philippine 
economy has been opened somewhat by foreign exchange 
deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, and 
tariff and market barrier reduction. President Estrada continues 
to support further economic reform, but a reluctant congress and 
vested interests at times have stalled additional progress. Trade 
opportunities for exporters exist in a range of industries, 
especially the power generation sector.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Thomas C. Hubbard
Consul General--Caryl Courtney

The U.S. embassy is located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila; tel. 
(63)(2)521-7116; fax 522-4361; telex 722-27366 AME PH.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program 
provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel 
Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that 
Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information 
Sheets exist for all countries and include information on 
immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, 
areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, 
and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public 
Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information 
quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term 
conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security 
of American travelers. Free copies of this information are 
available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-
5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel 
Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on 
the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov 
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, 
dial the modem number: 301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 
33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1(no 
parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The 
login is travel and the password is info. (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security 
information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and 
Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs 
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information 
on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be 
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government 
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; 
telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may 
be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 
(202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and 
holidays, call 202-647-4000.

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-
hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live 
operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per 
minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). 
Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-
888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A 
hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health 
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and 
advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and 
countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for 
International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 
DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest 
to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a 
country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this 
country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this 
publication).

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in 
dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy 
upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" 
listing in this publication). This may help family members 
contact you in case of an emergency.

Further Electronic Information

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the 
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. 
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes 
Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign 
policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; 
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. 
DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual 
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information 
on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes 
an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the 
present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government 
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To 
order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department 
of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related 
information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) 
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more 
information.

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