History and geography
The Philippines archipelago is home to 76 million people, 92 percent of them Christian. In economic terms it ranks in the middle of Asia countries with a per capita GDP of about $1,000 per person.

A colony of Spain for almost 400 years, the Philippines was ceded to the United States in 1898. The country gained independence in 1946. While the government has maintained close ties with the United States, there is also resentment of American support for the dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s. When democracy was restored, popular pressure eventually forced the removal of two U.S. military bases in the early 1990s.

From the State Department: Philippines Background Notes