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The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is a sovereign state in maritime Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of over 8,000 islands that are categorised broadly under four main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Sabah. The capital and most populous city of the Philippines is Manila.
Most of its population are descended from Austronesian peoples who successively migrated from Taiwan. It was politically unified by the Spanish starting in 1521. It was incorporated into the Spanish Empire for more than three centuries, during this time, 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. Asides from Japanese occupation during the Second World War, the United States retained sovereignty until its independence in 1946.
Its currently rapidly growing export-oriented economy is considered to be, while relatively wealthy in comparison to its neighbors, a developing one. Some analysts regard it as a newly industrialised economy, one that had just transitioned from one based on agriculture to industry. It has one of the lowest infant mortality rates and highest life expectancies in the region. Due to its recently more open immigration policies, its foreign population has surged over the years. Its large population, and high standards of living in relative to its neighbours and its great economic potential has led it to be classified as a middle power. It is a founding member of the United Nations and a member of numerous other international organisations.