From colony to republic – A former Spanish colony for three centuries, the Philippines was ceded to the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American war. It achieved full independence in 1946 following World War II and has since been a constitutional republic overseen by a president as both the head of state and head of government.
Presidential power – President Benigno S. Aquino III is a fourth-generation politician. His mother, Corazon Aquino, was the country's 11th president and led the 1986 People Power Revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos. His father, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., a staunch critic of the Marcos regime, was assassinated in 1983.
Islands and mountains – The Philippines is a mountainous archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total area of 300,000 square kilometers. It has five UNESCO World Heritage cultural and natural sites, including ancient rice terraces in the Cordilleras mountain range on the northern island of Luzon.
Vacation destination – The Philippines' many islands attract holiday makers seeking a beach getaway. Boracay's white sandy beaches remain one of the most popular destinations for sunning and scuba diving.
Feasts and festivities – Lechon (roasted suckling pig), a holdover from Spanish colonial times, is an iconic national dish enjoyed during festivities, including weddings and Christmas celebrations.
A Catholic country – The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, a faith held by an estimated 83% of the population. The pictured Black Nazarene annual procession, one of the country's most spectacular religious events, typically attracts between two to three million people to the capital, Manila.
Pride of the Philippines – Filipino professional boxer Manny Pacquiao is one of the hottest tickets in the boxing world. Named "Fighter of the Decade" for the 2000s by the Box