Asia

Facts and figures on the Philippines

  • Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe, center, votes at a polling center in San Juan, east of Manila, Philippines on Monday, May 9, 2016. Millions of Filipinos trooped to elections centers Monday to pick a new president, vice president and thousands of other officials amid tight security across the country. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe, center, votes at a polling center in San Juan, east of Manila, Philippines on Monday, May 9, 2016. Millions of Filipinos trooped to elections centers Monday to pick a new president, vice president and thousands of other officials amid tight security across the country. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

  • Presidential candidate and Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, right, checks on the vote receipt that comes out from the vote counting machine inside a polling center at the San Antonio National High School in Makati, Philippines Monday May 9, 2016. Millions of Filipinos began voting Monday in a presidential race where a foul-mouthed, crime-busting mayor is favored to win, but who the outgoing president says is a threat to democracy.(AP PHoto/Lino Escandor II)

    Presidential candidate and Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, right, checks on the vote receipt that comes out from the vote counting machine inside a polling center at the San Antonio National High School in Makati, Philippines Monday May 9, 2016. Millions of Filipinos began voting Monday in a presidential race where a foul-mouthed, crime-busting mayor is favored to win, but who the outgoing president says is a threat to democracy.(AP PHoto/Lino Escandor II)  (The Associated Press)

  • Filipinos queue up to vote for the country's presidential elections at the front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's hometown of Davao city in southern Philippines Monday, May 9, 2016. Millions of voters are expected to troop to polling precincts all over the country to elect the successor of President Benigno Aquino III. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Filipinos queue up to vote for the country's presidential elections at the front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's hometown of Davao city in southern Philippines Monday, May 9, 2016. Millions of voters are expected to troop to polling precincts all over the country to elect the successor of President Benigno Aquino III. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

The Philippines is holding general elections Monday to elect a president and vice president and other congressional representatives nationwide. Here are some facts and figures about the country:

GEOGRAPHY: An archipelago of 7,107 islands flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, and often an entryway for Pacific storms blowing into Asia. The nation has a tropical climate.

PEOPLE: Population of more than 100 million, mostly descendants of settlers from Southeast Asia and Indonesia, with a large Chinese minority.

RELIGION: About 80 percent are Roman Catholic, most others are Protestant and about 5 percent are Muslim.

LANGUAGE: Filipino, a Malay language based on Tagalog, is the predominant language. English, the second official language, is widely used in business and government.

HISTORY: Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain in 1521 and was killed near Cebu. The Philippines remained a Spanish colony until the U.S. Navy defeated Spain's fleet at Manila Bay in 1898. The Americans crushed Filipino rebels in a six-year war. Japan occupied the country in World War II until U.S. troops returned in 1944. Independence was granted in 1946. Late dictator Ferdinand Marcos dismantled democracy in 1972, retaining many authoritarian powers until he was ousted in 1986. There are pockets of unrest, including long-running rebellions by Muslim separatist in the south and communist guerrillas in the provinces.

ELECTIONS: About 55 million people are registered to vote. Nearly 45,000 candidates are vying for 18,000 national and local posts, including five who are contesting the presidency. Six candidates are running for vice president, a position which is separately voted for. Fifty aspirants are running for 12 of 24 Senate seats while more than 600 are eyeing 235 seats in the House of Representatives. Other openings range from provincial governors to town councilors.

ISSUES: Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III regards the elections as a referendum on his "straight path" style of governance that's characterized by his efforts to fight corruption and poverty. That may be gleaned in how former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is backed by Aquino, will fare. Aquino has also campaigned against Rodrigo Duterte, who he regards as a threat to democracy because of remarks that he may close down Congress and form a revolutionary government if lawmakers stall his programs.