*Land -- Located in the Pacific basin, the Philippines consists of 7,107 islands. About 1,000 are populated, the biggest being Luzon. The country has a land area of 115,000 square miles, slightly larger than Arizona.

*People -- About 85 percent of the 55 million people are Roman Catholics. Some 5 million Moslems live on southern Mindanao Island. About half of the people are younger than 15. Filipinos are mainly Malay people, with Chinese, American and Spanish minorities. Family ties are close, and families usually span three generations, including grandparents who live with their children. There are 87 dialects, but English is spoken almost nationwide.

*Economy -- About six out of every seven Filipinos live in rural villages, and are farmers. Per capita income is $400 annually. Most industries are located around Manila, and draw workers from the rural areas. The migration to Manila has created sprawling slums. About 70 percent of the people are said to live below the poverty line. The United States and Japan are the main trading partners. U.S. investments total $2.5 billion.

*History -- Spain seized the islands in the 16th century. About 200 local insurrections rocked Spanish rule until U.S. admiral George Dewey and Filipano revolutionaries ousted the Spaniards in 1898. American rule lasted until 1946, when the United States recognized Philippine independence. Japanese forces occupied the country from 1941 to 1945 during World War II. New presidents were elected every four years until Ferdinand Marcos came to power in 1966. He declared martial law in 1972 and in 1973 proclaimed a new constitution with himself as president. Martial law was lifted in 1981, and Marcos turned over legislative powers to the National Assembly. He released political prisoners, and was reelected to a six-year term as president with 88 percent of the vote. The assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino in 1983, as he returned from U.S. exile, sparked demonstrations calling for the resignation of Marcos. A commission appointed by Marcos concluded that a military conspiracy was responsible but a government tribunal acquitted the officers.