The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.
To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan.
To its west across the South China Sea is Vietnam.
The Sulu Sea to the southwest separates it from the island of Borneo and to the south the Celebes Sea from other islands of Indonesia.
It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea.
An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines has the 5th longest coastline in the world.
The islands are categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The capital city is Manila.
With an estimated population of about 92,000,000 people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country.
It is estimated that there are about 11,000,000 overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines.
Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands.
Ecologically, the Philippines with its tropical climate is one of the most diverse countries in the world.
Its national economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 166.9 billion.
Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits.
Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (PHP).
In ancient times the archipelago was populated by successive waves of Austronesian peoples who brought with them influences from Malay, Hindu, and Islamic cultures.
Trade introduced Chinese cultural influences.
The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanish interest and eventually dominance.
The Philippines became the Asian hub of the Manila-Acapulco galleon treasure fleet.
Christianity became widespread.
As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the short-lived Philippine Revolution, the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine-American War.
In the aftermath, the United States replaced Spain as the dominant power.
Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until the end of World War II when the Philippines gained independence.
The United States bequeathed to the Philippines the English language and its democratic presidential system of government.
Since independence the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy, with popular "People Power" movements overthrowing a dictatorship in one instance but also underlining the institutional weaknesses of its constitutional republic in others.
The name Philippines was derived from that of King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century.
Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos used the name Las Islas Filipinas, in honor of the Prince of Asturias (Spain) during his expedition to the islands, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samar.
Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas was chosen as the name of the archipelago.
The official name of the Philippines changed throughout the course of its history.
During the Philippine Revolution, it was officially called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic.
From the period of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War, until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the original Spanish name.
It was during the American period that the name Philippines began to appear, a name that has become its common name.
The official name of the country is now Republic of the Philippines.
Archeological discoveries show that humans existed in the Philippines around 40,000 years ago.
The Negritos, a pre-Mongoloid ethnic group that migrated from mainland Asia, settled in the islands about 30,000 years ago.
Another ethnic group of Malayo-Polynesian speaking people originated from the populations of Taiwanese aborigines and settled in the Philippines approximately 6,000 years ago.
They would populate the regions now known as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands, and Madagascar.
By 1000 B.C.E the inhabitants of the archipelago had stratified into four kinds of social groups: hunter- gathering tribes, warrior societies, petty plotucratracies and maritime centered harbor principalities.
The maritime oriented peoples traded with other Asian countries during the subsequent period and imported cultural norms from animism, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and Islam.
This inspired the rise of Philippine classical states.
There was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine Archipelago.
Instead, the islands were divided among competing thalassocracies ruled by various datus, rajahs, or sultans.
Among these were the kingdoms Maynila and Namayan, the Dynasty of Tondo, the Madya-as Confederacy, the rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu, and the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu.
Some of these societies were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Brunei.
Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders, and proselytisers from Malaysia, and Indonesia.
By the 13th century, Islam were established in the Sulu Archipelago, and reached Mindanao, the Visayas, and Luzon by 1565.
In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines, and claimed the islands for Spain.
Colonisation began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi, arrived from Mexico in 1565, and formed the first European settlements in Cebu.
In 1571, they established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.
Spanish rule brought political unification to the archipelago that later became the Philippines, and introduced western civilization.
The Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, before it was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican revolution.
The Manila galleons linked Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th century.
The Spanish military fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from the British, Chinese pirates, Dutch, and Portuguese.
Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, universities, and hospitals.
In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced education, establishing free public schooling in Spanish.
Many criollos and mestizos became wealthy.
The influx of Spanish settlers secularised churches, and government positions traditionally held by the criollos.
The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands.
Criollo insurgency resulted in the Novales Mutiny, and the revolt in Cavite El Viejo in 1872 that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.
An ideology of a revolution grew after colonial authorities executed the three priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza), who were accused of sedition, in 1872.
This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organised by José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines.
Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion.
As attempts at reform were meeting with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, a society along the lines of the freemasons, which sought independence from Spain through armed revolt.
Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896.
A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over.
In 1898, the Spanish-American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines.
Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established the following year.
Meanwhile, the islands were ceded by Spain, together with Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam, to the United States for $20 million dollars, in the Treaty of Paris.
This lead to the Philippine-American War after the First Philippine Republic was not recognised by the United States and eventually resulted in American control over the islands.
In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status.
Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when Japan invaded.
Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1944.
On July 4, 1946, the Philippines attained its independence.
Immediately after World War II, the Philippines faced a number of challenges.
The country had to be rebuilt from the ravages of war.
It also had to come to terms with Japanese collaborators.
Meanwhile, disgruntled remnants of the Hukbalahap communist rebel army that had previously fought against and resisted the Japanese continued to roam the rural regions.
Eventually this threat was dealt with by Secretary of National Defense and later President Ramon Magsaysay but sporadic cases of communist insurgency continued to flare up long afterward.
In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was elected president.
Barred from seeking a third term, he declared martial law on September 21, 1972.
By using political divisions, the tension of the Cold War, and the specter of communist rebellion and Islamic insurgency as justifications; he governed by decree, along with his wife Imelda Marcos.
On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. ignored warnings and returned from exile in the United States.
He was assassinated as he was taken off the plane at the Manila International Airport (now called the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his memory).
With political pressure building Marcos eventually called for snap presidential elections in 1986.
Corazon Aquino, Benigno's widow, was convinced into becoming the presidential candidate and standard bearer of the opposition.
The elections were widely thought of as rigged when Marcos was proclaimed the winner.
This led to the People Power Revolution instigated when long time Marcos allies Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief-of-Staff Fidel V. Ramos and Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile resigned and withdrew their support and barricaded themselves in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.
Exhorted on by the Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin, people gathered in support of the rebel leaders and protested on EDSA.
In the face of mass protests and military defections, Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and into exile.
Corazon Aquino was recognised as president.
The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a persistent communist insurgency and Islamic separatists.
The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992.
However, the economic improvements were negated with the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997.
In 2001, amid charges of corruption and a stalled impeachment process, Ramos' successor Joseph Ejercito Estrada was ousted from the presidency by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and replaced by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
For more information about Philippines see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippines) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, November 2008.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in November 2008. E. & O.E.
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