The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. Taiwan lies north across the Luzon Strait. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam. The Sulu Sea to the southwest lies between the country and the island of Borneo, and to the south the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.
With an estimated population of about 92 million people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. It is estimated that there are an additional 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. It has a tropical climate and is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
The Negritos of prehistoric times were one of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed 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 eventual 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 an affinity for Western culture. Since independence the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy and political corruption, with popular "People Power" movements overthrowing a dictatorship in one instance but also underlining the institutional weaknesses of its constitutional republic in others.
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