7,641 islands of the Philippines

NAMRIA discovered new islands in the Philippines- now we have 7,641 islands to explore!

The Philippines as we all know and learned from school is an archipelago comprising of 7,107 islands. The country has three main geographical sections which are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. But with recent discoveries and geographical studies the knowledge that our country has 7,107 islands is now passé due to the newly discovered 534 new islands in the Philippines.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) found previously unknown islands to be part of the Philippine archipelago. In a speech by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje at the recent Philippine Environment Summit at the SMX Convention Center he said that the discovered ‘unknown’ new islands in the Philippines are scattered in various locations around the country.

According to news update published on CNN Philippines, the latest finding registered a total of 534 new islands in the Philippines which is more than the 400 previously announced. From just 7,107 the Philippines now has a total of 7,641 islands.

new islands in the philippines

How National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) discovered these previously unknown new islands in the Philippines

NAMRIA discovered over 500 new islands in the philippines through a mapping technology called Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR). Through the high resolution mapping system which was completed last year “new” islands and islets were detected and a new map will soon be released.

NAMRIA is under the Department of National Resources (DENR) and is responsible for providing mapping services and collection of pertinent data used in facilitating natural resources valuable in creating charts, maps and statistics.

The discovery of new islands in the Philippines was made through Philippine Islands Measurements Project conducted by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) which was started in 2013.

According to Environment Secretary Paje, some of the newly discovered islands were not previously shown on the map and were categorized as “new”.

In the CNN Philippines report, Paje cited reasons why they were behind with the discovery- land masses went undetected by the old technology and due to changing land forms.

NOTE: A landmass can be called an island if it is above sea level and on high tide it should remain above water at any given time. It should also be capable of supporting plant or animal life or both.

Where are the new islands of the Philippines located?

Deputy Administrator of NAMRIA Jose Cabayanan Jr. said that most of these newly discovered islands in the Philippines are located in the Mindanao region.

So far NAMRIA has already completed ground validation of the new islands in the Philippines in the area of Luzon and now currently validating new islands in Visayas. Cabayanan said that they intend to complete the ground validation by the end of the year which will include new islands in Mindanao.

Ground validation involves collecting photographs of the seabed paying special attention to hard subtrates. (Subtrate is a layer or substance that has something underneath it that goes through a process in which organism can thrive and live) Samples of actual sediments from the surface are also collected through shallow digging.

What’s the overall Impact of these new Islands in the Philippines?

The report that the Philippines has more than the previously known 7,107 islands has implications that can affect the nation in various aspects. With the recently conducted research studies by NAMRIA revealed that 534 new islands emerged and can be categorized as part of the Philippine archipelago.

The recent discovery of new islands in the Philippines is still in its infant stage but this will certainly have positive impacts such as:

Additional land area for the Philippines– new islands in the Philippines mean additional land area which translates to bigger territory. At this point NAMRIA is not yet capable of divulging full details of these new islands in the philippines but will soon come out with a new Philippine map. The soon to be released map of the Philippines will show the newly discovered islands including the increased land area. More land area will mean more opportunities for agriculture and scientific explorations.

Increased coastal economic zone– along with the increased land area, the Philippines will soon gain more coastal area. UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states that a country’s coastal exclusive economic zone shall extend 200 nautical miles or 370 kilometers from its continental shelf. This will be good for ocean explorations and fishing industry.

Take into consideration the Benham Rise which was declared by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations as part of the Philippine Extended Continental Shelf on April 2012. With the addition of Benham rise to the country’s map, the Philippines increased its territory by 13 million hectare from what used to be just 30 million hectares to 43 hectares. (Benham Rise is a 13 million hectare undersea region east of Luzon that is rich in solid methane and natural gas. It is located at the coasts of Isabela and Aurora.)

***The total number of islands for the Philippines has increased from the previously thought 7,107 to 7,641 islands. This is definitely good news for the country knowing that there will be plenty of opportunities for future development. Further studies and research are needed and it would take some time before we could fully assess the full potential of these new islands in the Philippines.