Until 1571 the Philippines was a free country which did well in trade with countries like China, Japan, Vietnam, India and Europe. That stopped abruptly when the Spanish arrived and you can still find a lot of the Spanish influence left over from their time here. For the people of the Philippines the longing for freedom kept growing and in 1898 they fought on the side of the Americans during the Spanish-American war. When the Spanish were defeated they declared the Philippines independent. However; the Americans thought that the Filipinos could not take care of themselves and purchased the islands from the Spanish for $20 million. When the Americans finally recognized the desire for independence, the Japanese took the opportunity to invade the Philippines, that was in 1942. The US liberated the Philippines two years later and the country finally achieved full independence in 1946. Before the arrival of the Spanish the Philippines was a melting pot of many cultures and, you can still see a lot of differences throughout the country, with each island having its own distinct feel to it. Due to the Spanish influence more than 90% of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic). Approximately 5% of the population follow the Islamic faith, predominantly in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands.