It lies 1,210 kilometres (750 mi) from mainland Asia and comprises 7,107 islands called the Philippine Archipelago, approximately 700 of which are inhabited.
The Philippines is, along with East Timor, one of the two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia and the most westernized, a unique blend of East and West. Spain and the United States held The Philippine Islands were a Spanish colony for more than 350 years and an American colony for almost 50 years. While still mostly agricultural, the Philippines is an important destination for outsourcing and an exporter of electronics and labor. Remittances from overseas Filipinos form a significant portion of the Gross National Product.
The country's name originated with Ruy López de Villalobos naming the islands of Samar and Leyte, Las Islas Filipinas after King Philip II of Spain during his failed expedition in 1543. The archipelago was known under various names such as Spanish East Indies, New Castille (Nueva Castilla) and the St. Lazarus Islands (Islas de San Lázaro). Ultimately, the name Filipinas came to refer to the entire archipelago.
Archeological and paleontological evidence suggests that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan about 50,000 years ago. These inhabitants are called the Tabon Man. During the Iron Age, Austronesian-speakers came from South China and Taiwan via land bridges and settled in the Philippines. Ethnic Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century.