The Philippines, formally known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island nation in Southeast Asia located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is made up of about 7,641 islands that are divided into three major geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Manila is the capital city of the Philippines, while Quezon City is the most populated city, both of which are part of Metro Manila. The Philippines has maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south, and is bounded by the South China Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the southwest.
Because of its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire and near to the equator, the Philippines is prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but it also has rich natural resources and some of the world’s greatest biodiversity. The Philippines has a land area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 square miles) with a population of around 100 million people. It is Asia’s seventh most populous nation and the world’s 12th most populous country. Another 10 million Filipinos reside in other countries, making up one of the world’s biggest diasporas. The islands are home to a diverse range of nationalities and civilizations. Negritos were among the archipelago’s first residents in ancient times. Following them came subsequent waves of Austronesian peoples. There were exchanges with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Islamic nations. Then, different countries arose under the authority of Datus, Rajahs, Sultans, or Lakans.
Ferdinand Magellan’s landing at Homonhon, Eastern Samar in 1521 heralded the beginning of Hispanic colonialism. Ruy López de Villalobos, a Spanish adventurer, called the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain in 1543. The first Hispanic colony in the archipelago was founded in 1565, with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City. For more than 300 years, the Philippines were a part of the Spanish Empire. As a consequence, Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion. During this period, Manila served as the western center of the trans-Pacific commerce, linking Asia with Acapulco in the Americas through Manila galleons.
As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, the Philippine Revolution, which gave birth to the short-lived First Philippine Republic, was quickly followed by the brutal Philippine–American War of conquest by US armed power. Aside from the time of Japanese occupation, the United States maintained authority over the islands until the Philippines was recognized as an independent country after World War II. Since then, the Philippines has had a turbulent relationship with democracy, including the toppling of a dictatorship via a nonviolent revolution.
Because of its huge population and economic potential, the country is classed as a medium power. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, and the East Asia Summit. It also serves as the Asian Development Bank’s headquarters. The Philippines is seen as an emerging market and a newly industrialized nation, with an economy moving from an agricultural to a service and manufacturing-based one.