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The Republic of the Philippines is a Pacific island country in Southeast Asia. The Philippines consists of more than seven thousand islands in the western Pacific Ocean, bordered by the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea, and the Celebes Sea. Its nearest neighbors are the portion of Malaysia and Indonesia on the island of Borneo, Taiwan, Palau, and Vietnam.

Almost 95% of the total land area of the Philippines is contained within its eleven largest islands. The islands of the Philippines are assorted within three major island groups: Luzon, Mindanao, and the Visayas, the latter of which is a collection of smaller islands.

Several of the islands have not been officially named, although they may carry local names, and only about two thousand of the islands are inhabited.

Situated in the northern Philippines, Luzon is the fifteenth largest island in the world, as well as the economic and political center of the country. Also considered part of Luzon are the Batanes, Babuyan, and Polillo groups of islands, as well as the islands of Catanduanes, Marinduque, Masbate, Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, and others.

Mindanao is the second-largest island in the Philippines, and the island group of the same name includes the surrounding smaller islands. Besides the main island of Mindanao, the island group includes the islands of Basilan, Bucas Grande, Camiguin, Dinaget, Jolo, Samal, Siargao, Tawitawi, and others. Situated in the southern Philippines, Mindanao is the agricultural center of the country, and the source of most of the country's agricultural exports.

Situated in the center of the Philippines, the Visayan islands consist of several smaller islands, the largest of which are Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and Samar. The native inhabitants of the Visayas are the ethnic Visayan people.

The islands that make up the archipelago of the Philippines are mountainous, volcanic, and seismically active, so earthquakes are common. Most of its mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest. The country is believed to have the second-largest gold deposits in the world, and one of the largest copper deposits, as well as nickel, chromite, and zinc, much of which has not been exploited.

The Philippine government is a constitutional republic, structured similarly to that of the United States.

Filipino and English are the official languages of the Philippines, although nearly two hundred languages are spoken on the islands, many specific to individual islands or island groups. Spanish was widely used up until the late 1800s, but has declined considerably.

Collectively, although there are several ethnicities within the Philippines, Philippine nationals are known as Filipinos. In conversation, Filipino is used for males while Filipina refers to females. Within the various islands and ethnicities, there are several cultural practices, but Filipinos have also acquired cultural practices from other countries that have ruled over the islands. The Philippines were colonized by Spain for three hundred years, Britain for two, the United States for thirty, and the Japanese for three years. Other cultural practices were acquired from Arabic and Chinese merchants.

The Philippines is a secular state, but more than 90% of Filipinos adhere to Christianity, Catholicism being the most common. The largest minority religion is Islam, representing just over 5% of the population, mostly in the Bangsamoro region, nearest to Malaysian Borneo.

The islands of the Philippines were claimed for Spain by the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521, who was killed there during the Battle of Mactan shortly afterwards. Spain managed to colonize the islands by 1565, holding them until 1898, when they were ceded to the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.

When the United States refused to acknowledge the Filipino claim to independence as the First Philippine Republic, the Philippine-American War began, lasting from early 1899 to July of 1902. The Philippines were administered as an insular government, which included a governor-general was appointed by the United States, an appointed commission, and an elected lower house.

During World War II, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and the Second Philippine Republic was established as a Japanese collaborator state. Beginning in mid-1942, a Filipino guerrilla resistance, supplied and encouraged by the Americans, harassed the Japanese forces, until the US drove the Japanese off the islands in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1945. In 1946, the US recognized the Philippines as an independent nation, and American forces abandoned its bases and withdrew from the islands completely by 1992.

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