Known for its natural beauty, the Philippines is often called the "Pearl of the Orient," although this title has also referred to Hong Kong and Saigon. The Philippines is more specifically referred to as the "Pearl of the Orient Sea."
According to the CIA World Factbook, the Phillippines became a Spanish colony during the 16th century. It was given to the United States in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War. The Philippines gained its independence in 1942, following Japanese occupation during World War II. Filipino and English are the official languages of the country, with eight major dialects accompanying.