The archipelago officially titled the Kingdom of the Philippines is home to more than 7,000 sun-soaked tropical islands. However, the bulk of its fast-growing population inhabits only eleven of those islands.
Much of the country is mountainous and prone to earthquakes and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes. The Philippines is often buffeted by typhoons and other powerful and unpredictable weather patterns.
This island nation was a Spanish colony for more than three centuries and takes its name from the 16th century Spanish King, Phillip II.
Subsequently, it was taken over by the USA in the early 20th century after a protracted rebellion against rule from Madrid.
Spanish and US influences remain strong, particularly in terms of language, religion and government. Self-rule in 1935 was followed by full independence in 1946 under a US-style constitution. The US is a close ally and has provided military aid to help combat Muslim and communist insurgencies.
The vast majority of the population are Christians, however parts of the South-western Mindanao island group, particularly the provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), are home to a sizeable Muslim population, making the island group, along with Palawan, the only area of the Philippines with a significant Muslim presence. To this day the Moro separatist movement continues their 400-year resistance against foreign rule. The armed struggle against the Japanese, Spanish, Americans and Christian Filipinos is considered by current Moro Muslim leaders to be part of a four-century-long "national liberation movement" of the Bangsamoro. (Moro Nation)
Photographing the Philippines
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- The Philippines has the highest rate of discovery of new animal species with 16 new species of mammals discovered just in the last 10 years
- It's the second-largest archipelago in the world, consisting of 7,107 islands located in the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and the Luzon Strait
- The Philippines is the only majority Christian nation in Asia. Eighty per cent of its population identifies as Roman Catholic
- The archipelago is the largest exporter of coconuts and tropical fruits, such as papaya and mangosteen
- Population: 104 million
- Capital City: Manila
- Land Area: 300,000 sq km
- Major languages: Tagalog, English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Currency: Philippine peso
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