The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), officially known as the Kingdom of the Philippines (Filipino: Kaharian ng Pilipinas), is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy situated in maritime Southeast Asia, with its capital being Antipolo while its most populous city being Baguio.
Inhabited as early as the Paleolithic era, much of its population are descended from Austronesian peoples who migrated from Taiwan, displacing earlier arrivals. After experiencing political disunity and foreign influence mainly from India and China, it was unified under Spanish rule starting in 1521. It was incorporated into the Spanish Empire for more than three centuries, during this time, the Philippines experienced great hispanicisation (mestizos, people of mixed ethnicity make up a large percentage of the population) that resulted in its current status as a semi-Hispanicized state. Manila became the hub of the trans-Pacific Manila–Acapulco galleon trade connecting Asia with the Americas. The Philippines became independent in the late 19th century as the brief First Philippine Republic, but later sovereignty was handed over to the United States at the end of the Philippine–American war. The Philippines gained commonwealth status in 1935 and became modernised and prosperous until Japanese invasion in 1942. Asides from Japanese occupation during the Second World War, the United States retained sovereignty until its independence in 1946.
In 1962, Manila, its seat of government was bombed, resulting in the immediate deaths of 1.3 million people (including most government officials). Manila was the only target in the Philippines, but the bombing resulted in the massive de-urbanisation of the population as people move into the safer rural regions. With the collapse of the central government, nationalism among ethnolinguistic groups was revived, and the Philippines subsequently balkanised, with the current Antipolo-based government controlling much of Luzon. The Antipolo regime re-centralised control by purging all political opposition and threats to their rule, and added several reforms that aimed to reconstruct the Philippines and restore lost economic output. Since then, the Philippines experienced rapid economic recovery and has became a regional power, dominating inter-Philippine affairs and extending its influence across Southeast Asia. It claims that the Philippine National Union, an authoritarian military dictatorship based in Visayas, which it regards as an illegitimate regime and seeks to re-incorporate it into its territory.