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Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands.
In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants.
It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit.
Since the end of World War II, the official name of the country has been the Republic of the Philippines.
In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years.
This resulted in Catholicism becoming the dominant religion.
The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila.
Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.