Claimed for Spain by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the Philippines has had a long colonial experience. On 12 June 1898, the Philippines declared independence from Spain. That same year, it came under U.S. rule as a result of American victory in the Spanish-American War. After several years of fighting, U.S. military forces quelled the armed Philippine resistance to American colonial rule. Japan occupied and ruled the Philippines for much of World War II (1939–45). On 4 July 1946, the Philippines was accorded formal independence by the U.S. government.
The political system of the Philippines is divided into three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. Under the 1987 Constitution, the chief executive of the nation, the president, is directly elected to a single six-year term. The legislative branch is composed of a bicameral Congress consisting of 24 senators and 250 representatives. The judicial branch is led by 15 members of the Supreme Court.