The history of the Philippines is believed to have begun with the arrival of the first humans using rafts or primitive boats, at least 67,000 years ago as the 2007 discovery of Callao Man showed. The first recorded visit from the West is the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, who sighted the island of Samar Island on March 16, 1521 and landed on Homonhon Island (now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar province) the next day. Homonhon Island is southeast of Samar Island.

Before Magellan arrived, Negrito tribes inhabited the isles, who were subsequently joined and largely supplanted by migrating groups of Austronesians. This population had stratified into hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, petty plutocracies and maritime-oriented harbor principalities which eventually grew into kingdoms, rajahnates, principalities, confederations and sultanates. Iron Age finds in Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the Philippine Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C.States included the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan and Cebu, the dynasty of Tondo, the august kingdoms of Maysapan and Maynila, the Confederation of Madyaas, the sinified Country of Mai, as well as the Muslim Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao. These small maritime states flourished from as early as the 1st Millennium. These kingdoms traded with what are now called China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The remainder of the settlements were independent Barangays allied with one of the larger states. The "balangay" or "barangay" represented an independent community in the Archipelago ruled by a "Datu". There were, however, instances where a Datu of a certain barangay was aided by a council of elders in running the affairs of the barangay similar to privy councils of European monarchs. In that patriarchal society, the Datu and his family constituted the highest authority in the barangay and were therefore considered the equivalent of European monarchs. His rule was absolute. He dispensed justice and declared war against other barangays. Therefore, at the apex of pre-Spanish nobility in the Philippine Archipelago, was the Datu – the term commonly use by the Tagalogs. In Mindanao, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Rajah’ were used accordingly for the highest chief of their respective communities.

Spanish colonization and settlement began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi's expedition on February 13, 1565 who established the first permanent settlement of San Miguel on the island of Cebu.   The expedition continued northward reaching the bay of Manila on the island of Luzon on June 24, 1571, where they established a new town and thus began an era of Spanish colonization that lasted for more than three centuries.

Spanish rule achieved the political unification of almost the whole archipelago, that previously had been composed by independent kingdoms and communities, pushing back south the advancing Islamic forces and creating the first draft of the nation that was to be known as the Philippines. Spain also introduced Christianity, the code of law, the oldest Universities and the first public education system in Asia, the western European version of printing, the Gregorian calendar and invested heavily on all kinds of modern infrastructures, such as train networks and modern bridges.

The Spanish East Indies were ruled as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and administered from Mexico City from 1565 to 1821, and administered directly from Madrid, Spain from 1821 until the end of the Spanish–American War in 1898, except for a brief period of British rule from 1762 to 1764. During the Spanish period, numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestock introduced. The Chinese, British, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, and indigenous traders, complained that the Spanish reduced trade by attempting to enforce a Spanish monopoly. Spanish missionaries attempted to convert the population to Christianity and were eventually generally successful in the northern and central lowlands. They founded schools, a university, and some hospitals, principally in Manila and the largest Spanish fort settlements. Universal education was made free for all Filipino subjects in 1863 and remained so until the end of the Spanish colonial era. This measure was at the vanguard of contemporary Asian countries, and led to an important class of educated natives, like José Rizal. Ironically, it was during the initial years of American occupation in the early 20th century, that Spanish literature and press flourished.

The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in August 1896, culminating two years later with a proclamation of independence and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. However, the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish–American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States. This agreement was not recognized by the insurgent First Philippine Republic Government which, on June 2, 1899, proclaimed a Declaration of War against the United States. The Philippine–American War which ensued resulted in massive casualties.  Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and the U.S. government declared the conflict officially over in 1902. The Filipino leaders, for the most part, accepted that the Americans had won, but hostilities continued and only began to decline in 1913, leaving a total number of casualties on the Filipino side of more than one million dead, many of them civilians.

The U.S. had established a military government in the Philippines on August 14, 1898, following the capture of Manila. Civil government was inaugurated on July 1, 1901.  An elected Philippine Assembly was convened in 1907 as the lower house of a bicameral legislature. Commonwealth status was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1946. Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II. After the end of the war, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation.

With a promising economy in the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a rise of student activism and civil unrest against President Ferdinand Marcos who declared martial law in 1972. The peaceful and bloodless People Power Revolution of 1986, however, brought about the ousting of Marcos and a return to democracy for the country. The period since then, however, has been marked by political instability and hampered economic productivity.



Emergence of the Nation
Early inhabitants are believed to have reached the area over land bridges connecting the islands to Malaysia and China. The first people were the Negritos, who arrived twenty-five thousand years ago. Later immigrants came from Indonesia. After the land bridges disappeared, immigrants from Indo-China brought copper and bronze and built the rice terraces at Benaue in northern Luzon. The next wave came from Malaysia and is credited with developing agriculture and introducing carabao (water buffalo) as draft animals. Trade with China began in the first century C.E. Filipino ores and wood were traded for finished products.

In 1380, the "Propagation of Islam" began in the Sulu Islands and Mindanao, where Islam remains the major religion. The Muslim influence had spread as far north as Luzon when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521 to claim the archipelago for Spain. Magellan was killed soon afterward when a local chief, Lapu-Lapu, refused to accept Spanish rule and Christianity. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed in the Philippines in 1564 and consolidated Spanish power, designating Manila as the capital in 1572. Roman Catholic religious orders began Christianizing the populace, but the Sulu Islands and Mindanao remained Muslim. The Spanish governed those areas through a treaty with the sultan of Mindanao. The Spanish did not attempt to conquer the deep mountain regions of far northern Luzon.

The occupation by Spain and the unifying factor of Catholicism were the first steps in creating a national identity. Filipinos became interested in attaining independence in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the 1890's, the novels of José Rizal, his exile to a remote island, and his execution by the Spaniards created a national martyr and a rallying point for groups seeking independence. Armed attacks and propaganda increased, with an initial success that waned as Spanish reinforcements arrived. The Spanish-American War of 1898 and the defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay led the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo to declare independence from Spain. The United States paid twenty million dollars to the Spanish for the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris. Aguinaldo did not accept United States occupation and fought until the Filipino forces were defeated. In 1902, the Philippines became an American territory, with the future president William Howard Taft serving as the first territorial governor. Over the next two decades, American attitudes toward the Philippines changed and the islands were given commonwealth status in 1933. Independence was promised after twelve years, with the United States retaining rights to military bases.

The Japanese invaded the Philippines early in 1942 and ruled until 1944. Filipino forces continued to wage guerrilla warfare. The return of U.S. forces ended the Japanese occupation. After the war, plans for independence were resumed. The Republic of the Philippines became an independent nation on 4 July 1946.

The new nation had to recover economically from the destruction caused by World War II. Peasant groups wanted the huge land holdings encouraged by the Spanish and Americans broken apart. In 1955, Congress passed the first law to distribute land to farmers.

Ferdinand Marcos governed from 1965 to 1986, which was the longest period for one president. From 1972 to 1981, he ruled by martial law. Marcos was re elected in 1982, but a strong opposition movement emerged. When the leader of the opposition, Benigno Aquino, was murdered after his return from exile in the United States, his wife, Corazon Aquino, entered the presidential race in 1986. Marcos claimed victory but was accused of fraud. That accusation and the withdrawal of United States support for Marcos led to "People Power," a movement in which the residents of Manila protested the Marcos regime. The Filipino military supported Aquino, who was declared president, and the Marcos family went into exile in Hawaii.

The Aquino years saw the passage of a new constitution with term limits and the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in 1991, when the government did not grant a new lease for United States use of military bases.

Fidel Ramos, the first Protestant president, served from 1991 to 1998. Major problems included a fall in the value of the peso and the demands of Muslim groups in Mindanao for self-determination and/or independence. The government offered self-governance and additional funds, and the movement quieted.

Joseph "Erap" Estrada was elected for one six-year term in 1999. The demands of the Muslim rebels escalated, culminating with the kidnaping of twenty-nine people by the Abu Sayyaf group in April 2000. Late in the year 2000, impeachment proceedings were brought against Estrada, who was charged with financial corruption.

National Identity
Filipinos had little sense of national identity until the revolutionary period of the nineteenth century. The word "Filipino" did not refer to native people until the mid-nineteenth century. Before that period, the treatment of the islands as a single governmental unit by Spain and the conversion of the population to Catholicism were the unifying factors. As a desire for independence grew, a national flag was created, national heroes emerged, and a national anthem was written. A national language was designated in 1936. National costumes were established. The sense of a national identity is fragile, with true allegiance given to a kin group, a province, or a municipality.

Ethnic Relations
Ninety-five percent of the population is of Malay ancestry. The other identifiable group is of Chinese ancestry. Sino-Filipinos are envied for their success in business. They have maintained their own schools, which stress Chinese traditions.

Seventy to eighty language groups separate people along tribal lines. Approximately two million residents are designated as cultural minority groups protected by the government. The majority of those sixty ethnic groups live in the mountains of northern Luzon. People whose skin is darker are considered less capable, intelligent, and beautiful. Descendants of the Negritos tribe are regarded as inferior.