- a country in Southeast Asia that consists of an archipelago of over 7,000 islands—the main ones being Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Leyte, Samar, Negros, and Panay—that are separated from the Asian mainland by the South China Sea; population 97,976,600 (est. 2009); capital, Manila; languages, Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English.
Conquered by Spain in 1565, the islands were ceded to the US in 1898, following the Spanish-American War. The Philippines achieved full independence as a republic in 1946. From 1965, the country was under the increasingly dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos; he was driven from power in 1986 and replaced by Corazón Aquino, who was president until 1992. Economic improvements that emerged in the 1990s were undone by the East Asian financial crisis that closed the decade.