My world walk blog - The Philippines #4
The Philippines #4
More than 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, but most of the 106 million population live on just 11 of them.
Much of Asia's only Christian majority country is mountainous and prone to earthquakes and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes. It is often buffeted by typhoons and other storms.
The Philippines - a Spanish colony for more than three centuries and named after a 16th-century Spanish king - was taken over by the US in the early 20th century after a protracted rebellion against rule from Madrid.
Spanish and US influences remain strong, especially in terms of language, religion and government. Self-rule in 1935 was followed by full independence in 1946 under a US-style constitution.
The US is a close ally and has provided military aid to help combat Muslim and communist insurgencies.
Firebrand former mayor Rodrigo Duterte came to power in a landslide victory in June 2016 after winning over voters with promises of a no-holds-barred campaign to take on crime, drugs and corruption.
His tough talking on the subjects - including a pledge to have thousands of offenders killed - scandalised the political establishment, but proved popular with Filipinos tired of the status quo.
In his first year in office, he launched a controversial anti-drugs campaign with a call to citizens and the police to conduct extra-judicial killings of suspects; thousands are thought to have died since.
Mr Duterte, who denies running vigilante death squads during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City has admitted that he had himself shot dead three men during that time, although a spokesman later said this was not to be taken literally.
The president has also suggested he wants to court China, at the expense of the Philippines' traditionally close ties to the US.