The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,100 islands, islets, and atolls located southeast of the Asian mainland. It straddles the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean and serves as a gateway to the international straits linking Northeast and and southeast Asia to the Indian ocean and the middle-east. Its strategic location has made it a prize asset in US global strategy since the turn of the twentieth century.Covering nearly 300,000 sq.kilometers, Philippine land territory sprawls over some 1.3 million sq. kilometers of oceanic waters and has a population of 60.5 million (1990) . The islands are grouped into , 1. Luzon- in the north, 2. Visayas- in the cnter, and 3. Mindanao- in the south. The country's premier city Manila, which is located on Luzon island , is its political , economic, and educational center.
The Filipinos are a blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and American heritages, reflecting their long history of racial mixing through trade, and colonialism. Spain created in the Philippines a centralised political structure bringing under the Spanish crown independent Malay kingdoms and indegenous tribes already trading with Chinese merchants.
The name Philippines is derived from that of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos during his expedition in 1542 named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. Before that became commonplace, other names such as Islas del Poniente (Islands of the West) and Magellan's name for the islands San Lázaro were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands