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For such a remote country, the Philippines have been somewhat of a crossroads of civilizations for thousands of years, and inhabited even well before then. 'Archeological and paleontological evidence suggests that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan,' one of the more than 1,700 islands comprising the country, '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.' After that, the country was 'discovered' by the Portuguese, and was, in one way or another, inhabited by 'Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch and British forces, all of whom also had an interest in the Philippines.'
Many countries around the world, of course, were colonized by various groups of people. But what makes the case of the Philippines so interesting is its location, 750 miles from continental Asia, and for that reason not on the normal land-trade and conquest routes of some other Asian countries. But it nonetheless served as the Pacific base for any number of colonial powers for much of its existence. Today, however, the Philippines is a sovereign nation presided over by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Philippines, as a nation, is home to an astounding number of languages-more than 170 spoken, according to some estimates. English and Filipino, however, are the two official ones, which make full-time study there relatively easy from a language-comprehension stand-point. But don't expect to hear much English once you start traveling to the more remote regions and islands of this country, for despite the rather modern attitude and look of much of the Philippines, there are still many indigenous tribes residing throughout the country. Adventurous visitors, and especially students majoring in anthropology and local history, will be fascinated by their visits to, for example, the mountain tribes of Luzon, people who have inhabited the islands of the region for thousands of years and whose culture remains, for the most part, defiantly intact.
The people of the Philippines are famously accommodating to foreigners. This makes it that much easier for tourists and students alike to take full advantage of all that this country has to offer. From the Capissan Caves in Kasibu to the bustling capital city of Manila, the possibilities for adventure are limitless. Most visitors divide their time between the outdoor activities for which the country is famous and the more urban-centered ones that will reward even the most jaded sophisticate. Don't be surprised, though: Like most large cities in the world, Manila suffers from its fair share of poverty and crime. This, however, is not enough to detract from the overall positive experience that most visitors to the capital have.
Students, too, are increasingly making the Philippines a destination for either study abroad or full-time enrollment in a college or university. Among foreigners, the most popular institutions of higher education tend to be centered in Manila, though they are certainly not the only option. It simply depends of what you would like to study, and where you would like to spend your college years. Whatever you decide, a college experience in the Philippines is sure to be as unique and exciting an experience as you can possible have.
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