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Map of the Republic of the Philippines
The Philippine Archipelago was once connected to the Asian Mainland. The early inhabitants, the Negritos and Indons, were said to have crossed from the Asian mainland to the Philippines through land bridges. Indonesians and Malay migrants subsequently came by sea. Early Philippine history even before 1500, indicates that Filipinos had been trading with the Chinese and the Arabs.Islam was introduced during the 14th century on the islands of Mindanao and Sulu.The archipelago was claimed by the Spanish king when it was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The Philippines was named after King Philip II of Spain. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi established a Spanish government bringing the Philippines under the colonial rule of Spain for the next 333 years. Independence from Spain was won in 1898.The Americans took over from 1900 to 1946 with a three year intervention by the Japanese during World War II (1942-1945). In 1946 the Americans granted the Philippines its full independence. Scattered like beads of pearls across the vast emerald waters of the Western Pacific and South China Sea, the Philippine archipelago is a collage of 7,107 exotic islands. Spanning 1,850 kilometers from north to south, the Philippines' total land area of 300,000 square kilometers is mostly mountainous. The topography varies from swamps to high mountain ranges, one of which includes Mt. Apo, the highest peak in Mindanao at 2,954 meters above sea level. Ironically, the country also has the lowest spot in the world - the Mindanao Deep, an abyss that is 11,518 meters deep. The archipelago is divided into three major island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

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