The Philippines (Tagalog: Pilipinas), officially called the Republic of the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas) or RP, is an archipelagic nation located in Southeast Asia, with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine Archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is a part of the Malay Archipelago, the largest in the world. It stretches from the southern part of China to the northern tip of Borneo. Its area is about 300,000 sq. km. (116,000 sq. mi.), and it is divided into three major island regions, the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Commonly called the Philippines' or the Philippine Islands, is a democracy that became in 1946. While it has gone through periods of corruption with popular demands leading to reforms, it is a stable state with some problems with radical Muslim insurgency in the southern islands. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural state that still achieved a sense of national unity. The people are known as Filipinos.
Its literally thousands of islands had a wide range of native cultures, but, trom 1521 to 1898, it was a colony of Spain, then a colony of the United States of America from 1898 to 1946. The Filipino people led uprisings against both countries, the Philippine Revolution against Spain, and the Philippine-American War during U.S. occupation.
Spain imposed widespread Catholicism, and significant culture; many Filipinos still speak Spanish as well as Tagalog, English and local languages.
After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the U.S. took control, first imposing some fairly harsh colonial rule but moving to a self-governing commonwealth in 1935. Douglas MacArthur, who had been Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, commanded the Fil-American forces under the Commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president, and charged with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. MacArthur emotionally bonded with the people, without sacrificing his autocratic personality.
Invaded by the Japanese in 1941, and eventually conquered with large-scale captures of Filipino and American troops in 1942. There was a strong Filipino resistance movement, in which American troops, who had not surrendered, had a major role. MacArthur, who had left in 1942, under orders from Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the words "I shall return", did return in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. US and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control.
The Republic of the Philippines became independent on 4 July 1946.
Rule under Ferdinand Marcos had considerable corruption, and he was replaced in 1986 by a popular government under Corazon Aquino. Under Marcos, Filipino troops had participated in the Vietnam War, and there was a large-scale U.S. system of military bases in the Philippines, the last of which closed in 1992.
The Aquino government was challenged by various coups and did not, in spite of a commitment to democratic goals, achieve full stability and progress. A more effective government came with the 1992 election of Fidel Ramos.
Joseph Estrada replaced Ramos in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroy, after impeachment for corruption in January 2001. She was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004.