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Cultural Synopsis Philippines The Republic of the Philippines is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia and has a unique heritage of Malay Spanish and American cultures Ruled by Spain for nearly 330 years until 1898 its cultural characteristics are today in some ways more like those of the nations of Latin America than those of Southeast Asia the ten-nation geographic region to which it belongs The Spanish language however is spoken by less than 1 percent of the population in spite of Spains long colonial rule On the other hand the Spanish heritage is visible in other features of national life For example about 85 percent of the population is Roman Catholic there is a predominance of Spanish place-names and family names and the patterns of land tenancy and ownership can be traced to the Spanish period American colonial influence prevailed from about 1901 until the late 1940s Major legacies of that period are an American-style educational system and with it the teaching of English which today is spoken as a second language by about two fifths of the population Along with Pilipino a language derived from Tagalog English is one of the two official languages The Philippines achieved full political independence in 1946 following four years of occupation by Japanese armed forces during World War II The period since independence has been marked by repeated crises The Philippines consists of 7000 islands of only which 2000 are inhabited The two largest islands are Luzon and Mindanao and seventy-nine percent of the population are located on these isles In 1996 the population was estimated at 70 million people 10 million live in metro Manila the capital of the country The Philippine education system is based on the North American model primary secondary and finally a higher education The illiteracy rate is only 12 of the population over fifteen the standard education is high compared with other South-East Asian countries
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