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The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (FilipinoRepublika ng Pilipinas), is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. 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. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but have also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Covering almost three hundred thousand square kilometres (over 186,000 sq mi) make it the 73rd largest independent nation and an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: LuzonVisayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.

With a population of more than 92 million people, the Philippines is the seventh most populated Asian country and the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive wavesof Austronesian peoples who brought with them influences from MalayHindu, and Islamic societies. Trade and subsequent Chinese settlement eventually introduced Chinese cultural influences which remain to this day.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanish interest and eventual colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. The Spanish Empirebegan to settle with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from New Spain (present day-Mexico) in 1565 who established the first Spanish settlement in the archipelago, which remained a Spanish colony for more than 300 years.

Manila became the Asian hub of the Manila–Acapulco galleon fleet. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic; the Spanish-American War; and thePhilippine–American War. In the aftermath, the United States emerged as the dominant power; aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands. After the World War II, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation. Since then, 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 of the Philippines is a truncated form of The Philippine Islands, derived from the King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. During his expedition to the Islands, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobosused the name Las Islas Filipinas in honour of the then-Prince of Asturias, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samar. The name itself is Greek, and can be traced to the name of the father of Alexander the Great, Philipp II of Macedon, Greek: Φίλιππος — φίλος philos (meaning beloved, loving); ίππος hippos (meaning horse). Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas (Philippines) was eventually adopted as the name of the entire archipelago.

The official name of the Philippines, however, has changed throughout the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, the state officially called itself República Filipina, now referred to as the First Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American Warand the Philippine-American War until the Commonwealth, United States colonial authorities referred to the Philippines as the Philippine Islands, a direct translation of the original Spanish. It was during the American Period that the name "Philippines" began to appear, a name that was officially adopted.

The history of the Philippines is believed to have begun with the arrival of the first humans using rafts or primitive boats, at least 67,000 years ago as the 2007 discovery of Callao Man showed. The first recorded visit from the West is the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, who sighted the island of Samar Island on March 16, 1521 and landed on Homonhon Island (now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar province) the next day. Homonhon Island is southeast of Samar island. 

Before Magellan arrived, Negrito tribes inhabited the isles, who were subsequently joined and largely supplanted by migrating groups of Austronesians. This population had stratified into hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, petty plutocracies and maritime-oriented harbor principalities which eventually grew into kingdoms, rajahnates, principalities, confederations and sultanates. States included the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan and Cebu, the dynasty of Tondo, the august kingdoms of Maysapan and Maynila, the Confederation of Madyaas, the sinified Country of Mai, as well as the Muslim Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao. These small maritime states flourished from as early as the 1st Millenium. These kingdoms traded with what are now now called China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The remainder of the settlements were independent Barangays allied with one of the larger states. The “balangay” or “barangay” represented an independent community in the Archipelago ruled by a “Datu”. There were, however, instances where a Datu of a certain barangay was aided by a council of elders in running the affairs of the baranggay similar to privy councils of European monarchs. In that patriarchal society, the Datu and his family constituted the highest authority in the barangay and were therefore considered the equivalent of European monarchs. His rule was absolute. He dispensed justice and declared war against other barangays. Therefore, at the apex of pre-Spanish nobility in the Philippine Archipelago, was the Datu – the term commonly use by the Tagalogs. In Mindanao, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Rajah’ were used accordingly for the highest chief of their respective communities.

Spanish colonization and settlement began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi's expedition on February 13, 1565 who established the first permanent settlement of San Miguel on the island of Cebu. The expedition continued northward reaching the bay of Manila on the island of Luzon on June 24, 1571, where they established a new town and thus began an era of Spanish colonization that lasted for more than three centuries.

Spanish rule achieved the political unification of almost the whole archipelago, that previously had been composed by independent kingdoms and communities, pushing back south the advancing Islamic forces and creating the first draft of the nation that was to be known as the Philippines. Spain also introduced Christianity, the code of law, the oldest Universities and the first public education system in Asia, the western European version of printing, the Gregorian calendar and invested heavily on all kinds of modern infrastructures, such as train networks and modern bridges.

The Spanish East Indies were ruled as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and administered from Mexico City from 1565 to 1821, and administered directly from MadridSpain from 1821 until the end of the Spanish–American War in 1898, except for a brief period of British rule from 1762 to 1764. During the Spanish period, numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestock introduced. The Chinese, British, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, and indigenous traders, complained that the Spanish reduced trade by attempting to enforce a Spanish monopoly. Spanish missionaries attempted to convert the population to Christianity and were eventually generally successful in the northern and central lowlands. They founded schools, a university, and some hospitals, principally in Manila and the largest Spanish fort settlements. Universal education was made free for all Filipino subjects in 1863 and remained so until the end of the Spanish colonial era. This measure was at the vanguard of contemporary Asian countries, and led to an important class of educated natives, like Jose Rizal. Ironically, it was during the initial years of American occupation in the early 20th century, that Spanish literature and press flourished.

The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in August 1896, but it was largely unsuccessful until it received support from the United States, culminating two years later with a proclamation of independence and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. However, the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish–American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States. This agreement was not recognized by the insurgent First Philippine Republic Government which, on June 2, 1899, proclaimed a Declaration of War against the United States. The Philippine–American War which ensued resulted in massive casualties. Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and the U.S. government declared the conflict officially over in 1902. The Filipino leaders, for the most part, accepted that the Americans had won, but hostilities continued and only began to decline in 1913, leaving a total number of casualties on the Filipino side of more than one million dead, many of them civilians.

The U.S. had established a military government in the Philippines on August 14, 1898, following the capture of Manila. Civil government was inaugurated on July 1, 1901. An elected Philippine Assembly was convened in 1907 as the lower house of a bicameral legislature. Commonwealth status was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1946. Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II. After the end of the war, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation.

With a promising economy in the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a rise of student activism and civil unrest against President Ferdinand Marcos who declared martial law in 1972. The peaceful and bloodless People Power Revolution of 1986, however, brought about the ousting of Marcos and a return to democracy for the country. The period since then, however, has been marked by political instability and hampered economic productivity.

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