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Philippines

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  Philippines, island country of Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. The Philippines is an archipelago, or string of over 7,100 islands and islets lying about 500 miles (800 km) off the coast of Vietnam, in southeastern Asia between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The two largest islands, Luzon and Mindanao, make up for two-thirds of the total land area. Only about one third of the islands are inhabited. Manila is the capital, but nearby Quezon City is the country’s most-populous city. Both are part of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), located on Luzon, the largest island. The second largest island of the Philippines is Mindanao, in the southeast.
  Filipinos are predominantly of Malay descent, frequently with Chinese and sometimes American or Spanish ancestry. Many Filipinos have Spanish names because of a 19th-century Spanish decree that required them to use Spanish surnames, or last names. Parents often name their children after the saint whose feast day was on the day of their birth.
  Graced by dazzling beaches, year-round sun and numerous opportunities for diving, island-hopping and surfing, the Philippines has long attracted a steady stream of foreign visitors. Yet there’s far more to these islands than sand and snorkelling. Beyond the coastline are places to visit of a different nature; mystical tribal villages, ancient rice terraces, jungle-smothered peaks and crumbling Spanish churches. Look closer and you’ll see the influence of the island’s rich stew of cultures – Islamic, Malay, Spanish and American – in an exuberant array of festivals, tantalizing food and elegant colonial towns that has more in common with Latin America than the rest of Asia.

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