The Philippines (in Filipino, Pilipinas), officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Repúblika ng Pilipinas), is a Southeast Asian sovereign island country located in the western Pacific Ocean.
Comprised of 7,107 islands, the country is divided into 3 main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Those regions are represented by the 3 “stars” displayed in the Philippines National Flag.
Its capital city is Manila, while its most populous city is Quezon City; both are part of Metro Manila.
Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator, the Philippines is often hit by small earthquakes and typhoons throughout the year. This particular geographic location offers on the other side abundant and various natural resources, in addition to one of the world’s greatest biodiversity. With a surface of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi), the Philippines is the 64th-largest country in the world.
The Philippines is the seventh-most populated country in Asia and the 12th in the world, with a population of about 100 million people. Renowned for its large population of expatriates, the number of people living overseas is estimated at roughly 12 million Filipinos. Thus, the Philippines is home to one of the world’s largest diasporas.
Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Negritos are said to be the earliest inhabitants of the archipelago. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples: commercial trade with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Islamic states was frequent throughout history, helping to make the country a blend of various Asian cultures and ethnic groups. The Philippines also held various nations established under the rule of Datus, Rajahs, Sultans or Lakans.
In 1521, the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan marked the beginning of Spanish colonization. The name “Las Islas Filipinas” was given by Spanish explorer Roy López de Villalobos in 1543, in honor of Philip II of Spain. The coming of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, In 1565, marked the 1st Spanish settlement in the archipelago. The Philippines will then remain part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years.
The Spanish occupation also lead to Roman Catholicism being the predominant religion in the country. During this time, Manila became the eastern hub of the trans-Pacific Manila–Acapulco galleon trade, connecting Asia with Latin-America.
In the 20th century, the country went through two major changes, brought first by the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic, and by the Philippine–American War, setting an environment for future independence. Aside from the deadly period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands. After World War II, the Philippines was finally recognized as an independent nation.
It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and East Asia Summit.