After the ninth century, when the Chinese began trading with the Filipinos, the Philippine Islands had extensive contacts with other parts of southeastern Asia. In the 15th century Muslims from the west began trading with peoples on the southern islands and converted many of them to Islam. The first European to visit the islands was Ferdinand Magellan, who explored them in 1521. Although the area was in that part of the world assigned to Portugal in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI's Line of Demarcation, Magellan hoped to bring it under Spanish rule. He was killed while trying to help a local chieftain in a war.

Important dates in the Philippines
c. 3000 B.C. Malays from Indonesia and Malaysia began settling in the Philippines.
A.D. 1521 Ferdinand Magellan landed in the Philippines.
1565 Spanish explorers claimed the Philippines for Spain and established a permanent settlement.
1896 The Spaniards executed Jose Rizal, a leader of the Philippine independence movement. Emilio Aguinaldo led a revolt against the Spaniards.
1898 Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12. In December, Spain signed a treaty passing control of the Philippines to the United States.
1942-1944 Japan controlled the Philippines.
1946 The Philippines gained independence.
1954 The Philippine Army defeated the Communist-led Huk rebels after a five-year fight.
1972 President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared a state of martial law, which lasted until 1981.
1986 Widespread protests against President Marcos forced him to leave office.