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The Philippines is an island nation in southeastern Asia, with a total area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 square miles) (73rd largest in the world) and a population of 197.7 million (13th largest in the world). The country became independent in 1936, following periods of rule by Spain and the United States, and occupation by Japan during World War II. This heritage is reflected in a population that is largely (82.9 percent) Roman Catholic, with a significant Muslim minority (5 percent), and national languages of Filipino and English. The ethnic makeup of the country is diverse, including Tagalog (28.1 percent), Cebuano (13.1 percent), Ilocano (9 percent), Bisaya/Binisaya (7.6 percent), and Hiligaynon Ilonggo (7.5 percent). The islands are largely mountainous, and the country is regularly subject ...

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