The culture of the Philippines reflects the country's complex history. It is a blend of the Malayo-Polynesian and Hispanic cultures, with influences from Chinese.
The Philippines was first settled by Melanesians; today they preserve a very traditional way of life and culture, although their numbers are few. After them, the Austronesians or more specifically, Malayo-Polynesians, arrived on the islands. Today the Austronesian culture is very evident in the ethnicity, language, food, dance and almost every aspect of the culture. These Austronesians engaged in trading with China, India, Japan, the Ryukyuislands, the Middle East, Borneo, and other places. As a result, those cultures have also left a mark on Filipino culture.
When the Spanish colonized the islands, after more than three centuries of colonization, they had heavily impacted the culture. The Philippines being governed from both Mexico and Spain, had received a little bit of Hispanic influence. Mexican and Spanish influence can be seen in the dance and religion many other aspects of the culture. After being colonized by Spain, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for about 40 years. Influence from the United States is seen in the wide use of the English language, and the modern pop culture.
The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. From a census in 2000, Catholics constitute 80.9%, with Aglipayan followers at 2%, Evangelical Christians at 2.8%, Iglesia Ni Cristo at 2.3%, and other Christian denominations at 4.5%. Islam is the religion for about 5% of the population, while 1.8% practice other religions. The remaining 0.6 did not specify a religion while 0.1% are irreligious.
Before the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of Roman Catholicism and Western culture in the 16th century, the indigenous Austronesian people of what is now called the Philippines were adherents of a mixture of