The combined length of all its beaches make for one of the world's longest coastlines, and the many islands and many waves of immigration make for considerable cultural diversity. More than a hundred distinct ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences — the country was a Spanish colony from the late 1500s to 1898, then American until 1946 — and a fusion of culture and arts enhance the wonder that is the Philippines.It would take decades to visit and experience everything. The Philippines is one of the most accessible Asian countries for visitors. It is a relatively poor country and prices are generally low, but tourist infrastructure is well-developed in many areas. English is an official language and is very widely spoken. The people are generally cheerful and friendly; perhaps the easiest way to recognize a Filipino abroad is to see who has the broadest smile.