The Philippines consist of more than seven thousand islands.
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines.
The Pacific Ocean contains the deepest ocean trenches in the world. The Mindanao trench, close to the Philippines, is six and a half miles deep.
The highest point in the Philippines is Mount Apo (2,954 m).
There are over two hundred volcanoes on the islands, though only a small number are active.
Fossil evidence of Homo sapiens sapiens has been found in the Tabon Cave Complex. It is estimated that the area was inhabited around fifty thousand years ago.
World Heritage properties in the Philippines include the two thousand years old Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.
The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, was the first European to visit the Philippines. Magellan was in the service of the King of Spain.
Ferdinand Magellan was killed in the Philippines in 1521.
The islands were a colony of Spain from 1565 to 1898.
The Spanish colony was named the Philippines, after Philip of Spain (King Philip II).
The capital city of Manila is named after a white-flowered mangrove plant, the nilad (Maynilad - there is nilad).
Under Spanish colonization many people became Roman Catholics, except in the Muslim south.
Jose Rizal (1861-96) is a major Philippine novelist whose works played a significant role in the movement for independence from Spain. Rizal was executed by the Spanish in 1896.
Following the Spanish-American War, the islands of the Philippines, along with Puerto Rico, were ceded to the USA (1898).
The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world (after the USA and the UK).
The Philippines became a republic in 1946.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.
Benigno Aquino, the opposition leader, was assassinated in 1983.
Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the country (1986 to 1992).
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo, on the island of Luzon, in 1991 left a large number of people homeless. Many thousands of people were evacuated from the area before the eruption.
In February 2000, thirty thousand people were forced to leave their homes when the Mount Mayon volcano erupted. In 1993 seventy people were killed during an eruption.
An entire village was buried by a landslide on the island of Leyte in February 2006. It was estimated that over one and a half thousand people lost their lives.
In December 2009 peace talks resumed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Malaysia, having broken down 16 months previously.
In February 2010 the army captured Abu Sayyaf, leader Mujibar Alih Amon, suspected of the kidnapping raid on a Malaysian resort in 2000 and the killing of Christian missionaries in 2001. In June Benigno Aquino became president.
In February 2011 the government and the communist New People’s Army (NPA) met in Oslo and agreed to work towards a peace deal by 2012; this was their first negotiation since 2004.