Fifty or sixty years ago, almost every kitchen counter was plastic laminate. It was a miracle material originally invented to replace mica as insulation (for-mica), made up of layers of paper impregnated with thermosetting resin (bakelite, the first commercially successful plastic). After World War II they added a decorative sheet and sealed it all up in melamine. It was cheap, colorful, and a lot more durable and easy to clean than the tile or linoleum people used before. They could form it to make backsplashes and do bullnoses to stop dripping at the front.
But it is easily scratched, burned and did stain if you weren't careful.