The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia. Manila is its capital city. It comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country with a population of about 90 million people. There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines.
A former colony of Spain and the United States, the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. There are also a number of minority religious groups, including Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Ecologically, the Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in the world.
Bulul guardian figure of the Ifugao people
The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War.
In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control.
On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence.
The 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986, when a "people power" movement in Manila ("EDSA 1") forced him into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development.
Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands.
Joseph Estrada was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in January 2001 after Estrada's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another "people power" movement ("EDSA 2") demanded his resignation.
Macapagal-Arroyo was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists.
Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and on-again/off-again peace talks with another.
(facts courtesy of CIA World Fact Book)
Food of the Philippines
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