The Philippines consist of an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, which was inhabited long before it was colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century. In 1898 Spain ceded its colony to the USA after the Spanish-American war. Occupied by Japan during World War II, the Philippines became independent in 1946. For 21years the country was under the corrupt and authoritarian regime of President Marcos, who was ousted in 1986 by a peaceful popular uprising. Popular resistance to the neo-colonial domination of the ruling elite, and the struggle for democracy, land reform, gender equality and social transformation remain strong. In the southern island of Mindanao, where the Muslim minority is concentrated, a separatist movement fought for independence until 1996, when a treaty was signed. The economy of the Philippines is based on agriculture and the manufacturing industry. Increasing poverty has forced many Filipinos to seek work else- where in Asia, Europe and North America. The Philippines is the only predominantly Christian country in Asia, with a majority Catholic Church, established under the Spanish rule. Several large independent churches have separated from the Catholic Church. Protestant missions arrived during the early 20th century. The National Council of Churches was formed in 1963 as an ecumenical group of the "mainline" Protestant churches, committed to unity and service, human rights and social justice. There is some cooperation with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, which is affiliated with the WEA. Several large Pentecostal and Evangelical denominations make up about 50 percent of the Protestants.