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The Republic of the Philippines (Tagalog: Republika ng Pilipinas), or The Philippines (Tagalog: Pilipinas), also known as the Pearl of the Orient Seas, is an independent sovereign nation of southeast Asia. It lies 1,210 km (750 mi) away from mainland Asia and consists of 7,107 islands that form a part of the Malay Archipelago. Republika ng Pilipinas Republic of the Philippines Flag of the Philippines The Philippines: Coat of Arms (National Flag) (National Coat of Arms) National motto: Maka-Diyos, Maka-kalikasan, Makatao at Makabansa (Filipino: For the Love of God, Nature, People and Country) Location of the Philippines Official languages Filipino (Tagalog), English Major regional languages Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug Capital Manila Largest city Quezon City President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Area - Total - % water Ranked 71st 300,000 kmē 0.6% Population - Total (2004) - Density Ranked 12th 86,241,697 276/kmē Independence - Declared From Spain June 12, 1898 (official) GDP (2003) - Total - Total - GDP/capita - GDP/capita $352.18 billion (25th) (PPP) $92.58 billion (48th) (nominal) $4,321 (103rd) (PPP) $989 (118th) (nominal) Currency 1 Philippine peso (piso) = 100 centavos (sentimos) Time zone UTC +8 National anthem Lupang Hinirang (Beloved Land) Internet TLD .ph ISO Country Code PH Calling Code +63 1 Under the Constitution of 1987, the national language is Filipino and English. The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in their respective regions. Spanish and Arabic have no official status but are used on an "voluntary and optional basis." Over the period of 256 years, the Philippines was a Spanish colony (1565-1821) and for 77 years after that was elevated to the dignity of a Spanish province (1821-1898). After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines came under American rule. It became a United States unincorporated territory in the form of a commonwealth from 1935. The Commonwealth Period was interrupted by World War II when the Philippines was under Japanese occupation. The Philippines finally achieved de facto independence on July 4, 1946. These years under external rule greatly influenced the culture and society of the Philippines. The nation is known for its Roman Catholic Church and strong western heritage. It is one of the two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia, a distinction it shares with East Timor. The Philippines was the most developed country in Asia immediately following World War II, but has since lagged behind other countries because of poor economic growth, government confiscation of wealth, widespread corruption, and neo-colonial influences. Currently, the country attains a moderate economic growth, buoyed by remittances by its large, diasporic overseas Filipino workforce and booming information technology. The country's major problems include an ongoing Muslim separatist movement in southern Mindanao, the New People's Army communist insurgencies in rural areas, historically inconsistent government policies, rising crime levels, and environmental degradation such as rainforest depletion and marine and coastal pollution. The country also suffers from overpopulation in its urban centers due to lack of jobs in the rural areas and having a high birth rate, which is far above the replacement rate and until recently was one of the highest in all of Asia.