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[[Image:Luzon regions.PNG|right|thumb|A map of Luzon color-coded by region.


Luzon is the largest and most economically and politically important island in the Philippinesmarker and one of the three island groups in the country, with Visayasmarker and Mindanaomarker being the other two. Luzon as an island group includes the island of Luzon itself, plus the Batanesmarker and Babuyanmarker groups of islands to the north, and the main and outlying islands of Catanduanesmarker, Marinduquemarker, Masbate, Romblonmarker, and Mindoromarker in the south. Luzon was once split among Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, Muslim principalities, and ethnoreligious tribes, who had trading connections with Malaysiamarker, Indiamarker, Japanmarker and Chinamarker before the Spanish established their rule. The first European explorers recorded it in their charts as Luçonia or Luçon and inhabitants were called Luçoes. Under Spain, Luzon also came to be known as the Nueva Castilla or the New Castile.

Administrative divisions

The eight regions are listed below, discussed individually.Its administrative centers are for formality's sake only, meaning, there is no 'valid' regional administrative center (except in the case of Administrative regions), the power being vested by the provincial governments. The regional centers are only the head tourist offices for the region.

Ilocos Region (Region I) is located in the northwest portion of the main island. Its provinces are: Ilocos Nortemarker, Ilocos Surmarker, La Unionmarker, and Pangasinanmarker. Its inhabitants are 70% Ilocanos and 30% Pangasinans. The main languages are Ilokano and Pangasinan. The region's administrative center is San Fernando City, La Unionmarker. The city of Viganmarker in Ilocos province is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the Philippines.

Cagayan Valley (Region II) is located in the northeast portion of the main island and also covers the Batanes and Babuyan islands to the north. The valley is surrounded by the Cordillera Centralmarker and Sierra Madremarker mountain ranges. Running through its center is the country's longest river, Cagayan River. Its provinces are Batanes, Cagayanmarker, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirinomarker. The region's administrative center is Tuguegarao Citymarker.

Central Luzon (Region III) contains the largest plain of the country and produces most of the country's rice supply. Its provinces areAuroramarker, Bataanmarker, Bulacanmarker, Nueva Ecijamarker, Pampangamarker, Tarlacmarker, and Zambalesmarker. The region's administrative center is the City of San Fernando, Pampangamarker. The former United States Navy base of Subic Baymarker is located in Zambalesmarker while the former United States Air Force is in Clark Fieldmarker, Pampanga. Both are now two of the country's booming special economic zones. The main languages are Kapampangan and Tagalog.

CALABARZON (Region IV-A), one of the newest regions of the country, was previously a part of Southern Tagalog (Region IV). It is one of the most populous areas of the country. The name of the region is actually an acronym that stands for its provinces, which are Cavitemarker, Lagunamarker, Batangasmarker, Rizalmarker, and Quezonmarker. The Tagalogs are the dominant ethnic group in this region, with Tagalog as the main language. Its recognized administrative center is Manilamarker, which is in Metro Manilamarker, however, some government officials still consider Quezon Citymarker, which is also in Metro Manilamarker as the administrative center, and also, Lucena Citymarker.

MIMAROPA (Region IV-B), along with CALABARZON is the newest region of the country, and was previously a part of Southern Tagalog (Region IV). It contains most of the islands in the Luzon group. The name of the region is actually an acronym that stands for its provinces, which are Marinduquemarker, Occidental Mindoromarker, Oriental Mindoromarker, Palawanmarker and Romblonmarker. The region's administrative center is Calapan Citymarker.

Bicol Region (Region V) occupies the Bicol Peninsula at the southeastern end of Luzon island, plus the outlying islands which include the island provinces of Catanduanesmarker and Masbate. The remaining mainland provinces are Albaymarker, Camarines Nortemarker, Camarines Surmarker, and Sorsogonmarker. The region's administrative center is Legazpi Citymarker. The inhabitants are of Bicolano descent with Bikol as the main language.type= convergent plate boundary

Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) almost completely covers the Cordillera Centralmarker mountain range of Northern Luzon. CAR, created in 1989 is a special administrative region for the indigenous tribes of these mountains. Its provinces are Abramarker, Apayaomarker, Benguetmarker, Ifugaomarker, Kalingamarker, and Mountain Provincemarker. The regional center is Baguio Citymarker.

National Capital Region (NCR) is a special administrative region that contains the capital of the country, Manila; the country's most populous city, Quezon City; and an additional 15 more cities and municipalities. The region is more popularly known as Metro Manilamarker. It is the only region in the country that has no provinces, and is the most densely populated with over 10 million people living in a 636 km² area.


Luzon's area is 104,688 square kilometers, making it the world's 17th largest island. It is the fourth most populous island in the world. Located on Luzon are the country's capital, Manilamarker, and its most populous city, Quezon Citymarker. The island is very mountainous and is home to Mount Pulagmarker, the second highest mountain in the country and Mount Pinatubomarker, Mayonmarker, and Taal Volcanomarker, Luzon's most famous volcanoes. To the west of Luzon island is the South China Seamarker (Luzon Sea in Philippine territorial waters), to the east is the Philippine Seamarker, and to the north is Luzon Straitmarker containing Babuyan Channel and Balintang Channel.

The main part of the island is roughly rectangular in shape and has the long Bicol Peninsula protruding to the southeast. The northern part of the island contains the largest mountain range in the country, the Cordillera Centralmarker. Mount Pulagmarker, the second highest mountain in the country, is located there, rising 2,922 meters. To the east of the Cordillera Central is the large Cagayan Valley, which serves as the basin for the Cagayan River, the longest river in the Philippines. To the east of the valley rises the Sierra Madremarker mountain range, easily the longest range in the country.

The Sierra Madre snakes southwards into the central and southern part of the island. Between it and the Zambales Mountainsmarker to the west is the largest plain, the Central Luzon plain. This plain, approximately 11,000 km² in size, is the country's largest producer of rice. Among the rivers irrigating this plain, the longest are Cagayanmarker to the north, and Pampangamarker to the south. In the middle of the plain rises the solitary Mount Arayatmarker. To the west, in the Zambales Mountains, rises Mount Pinatubomarker, made famous because of its enormous 1991 eruption.

The Zambales mountains extends to the sea in the north, forming Lingayen Gulfmarker, home to the Hundred Islands National Park. To the south, the mountains also extend into the sea, forming the Bataan Peninsulamarker, which encloses the Manila Baymarker. This natural harbor is considered to be one of the best natural ports in East Asia, due to its size and strategic geographical location.

To the southeast of Manila Bay is the largest lake in the country, and also the largest inland lake in Southeast Asia, the Laguna de Baymarker (Old Spanish, Lake of Bay town). This 949 km² lake is drained by the Pasig River into Manila Bay. Pasig River is one of the most important rivers in the country due to its historical significance and because it runs through the center of Metro Manilamarker.

Located just 20 km southwest of Laguna de Bay is Taal Lakemarker, within the southwestern portion of the island. This caldera of a lake contains the smallest volcano of the country, Taal Volcanomarker, which rises on the island in the center of the lake. The volcano in turn has a lake in its crater. All the surrounding areas of Taal Lake were once part of a massive prehistoric volcano that covered the southern portion of the province of Cavite, Tagaytay City, and the whole of Batangas province.

Off the southwestern portion of Luzon is the island of Mindoro, separated by the Verde Island Passagesmarker. The passages connect the South China Sea to the east with the Tayabas Bay. To the south of the bay is the island of Marinduque.

The southeastern portion of Luzon is dominated by the Bicol Peninsula. This is a mountainous and narrow region that extends approximately 150 km southeast. Along it are numerous gulfs and bays. In the north is Lamon Bay, which contains Alabat Islandmarker and is south of the Polillo Islandsmarker of Quezon provincemarker. Other bays and gulfs include San Miguel Bay, Lagonoy Gulfmarker, Ragay Gulf, and Sorsogon Bay.

To the east of the peninsula lies the island of Catanduanes. Leading to it is the Caramoan Peninsula. Off the southeast tip of Bicol is Samar islandmarker, separated by San Bernardino Straitmarker. Bicol Peninsula is connected to the main part of Luzon through the Tayabas Isthmus. Extending south from the isthmus is the Bondoc Peninsula.

The Bicol Peninsula is also home to numerous volcanoes. The most famous is Mayon Volcanomarker in Albaymarker. This 2,460 m high volcano is symmetrically shaped, rivaling that of Mount Fujimarker in Japanmarker, and is a symbol of the Bicol Regionmarker. Other notable mountains are Mount Isarogmarker and Mount Irigamarker in Camarines Surmarker, and Mount Bulusanmarker in Sorsogonmarker.

Located off the southwestern coast of the Bicol Peninsula are the islands of Ticaomarker, Buriasmarker, and Masbate.


Luzon is part of the Philippine Mobile Belt, a fast deforming plate boundary zone, hemmed in between two opposing subduction zones, the west-dipping Philippine Trench-East Luzon Trench subduction zone, and the east-dipping north-south trending Manila Trench-Negros Trench-Cotabato Trench . The Philippine Sea Platemarker subducts under eastern Luzon along the East Luzon Trench and the Philippine Trench, while the South China Sea basin, part of the Eurasian plate, subducts under western Luzon along the Manila Trench.

The North-Southeastern trending braided left-lateral strike-slip Philippine Fault System traverses Luzon, from Quezon provincemarker and Bicol to the northwestern part of the island. This fault system takes up part of the motion due to the subducting plates and produces large earthquakes. Southwest of Luzon is a collision zone where the Palawan micro-block collides with SW Luzon, producing a highly seismic zone near Mindoromarker island. Southwest Luzon is characterized by a highly volcanic zone, called the Macolod Corridor, a region of crustal thinning and spreading.

Seven principal blocks were identified in Luzon in 1989: the Sierra Madre Oriental, Angat, Zambales, Central Cordillera of Luzon, Bicol, and Catanduanes Island blocks . Using seismic and geodetic data, Luzon is said to have been modeled by another author as a series of six micro blocks or micro plates, all moving and rotating in different directions, with maximum velocities ~100 mm/yr NW with respect to Sundaland/Eurasia.


The economy of the island is centered in Metro Manilamarker with Makati Citymarker serving as the main economic and financial hub. Major companies such as Ayala, Jollibee Foods Corporation, SM Group, and Metrobank are based in the business districts of Makati, Ortigas Center, and Bonifacio Global City. Industry is concentrated in and around the urban areas of Metro Manila while agriculture predominates in the other regions of the island producing crops such as rice, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, pineapple, and coffee.. Other sectors include livestock raising, tourism, mining, and fishing.


From just before the first millennium, the Tagalog and Kapampangan peoples of south and central Luzon had established several Indianized kingdoms, notably among them those of Tundok, Namayan and Maynila. The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, the first Philippine document written in 900AD, names places in and around Manila Baymarker as well as Medanmarker in Indonesia. These kingdoms were based on leases between village rulers (Datu) and landlords (Lakan) or Rajahs, to whom tributes and taxes were levied. These kingdoms were coastal thalassocracies based on trade with neighboring Chinamarker (of whom they were tributaries), Indiamarker, Javamarker, Okinawamarker and Japanmarker. According to sources at the time, the trade in large native Rusun-tsukuri (literally Luzon made in Japanese) clay jars used for storing green tea and rice wine with Japan flourished in the 12th century, and local Tagalog and Kapampangan potters had marked each jar with Baybayin letters denoting the particular urn used and the locale the jars were manufactured in. Of this flourishing trade, the Burnay jars of Ilocos are the only large clay jar manufactured in Luzon today with origins from this time.

The Spanish arrival in the 16th century saw the breaking up of these kingdoms and the establishment of the Philippines with its capital Cebu, which was moved to Manila following the defeat of the local Rajah Sulayman in 1570.


Ethnic groups

The people of Luzon belong to the Filipino people, and are divided into several ethnolinguistic groups. These groups inhabit different areas of the island.

Ilocanos predominate in the northern portion of Ilocos and the region of Cagayan Valley, Pangasinense primarily inhabit Pangasinanmarker, while the Kapampangans primarily live in Pampangamarker, Tarlacmarker and the rest of Central Luzon. Meanwhile, Tagalog are the majority in Bulacanmarker, CALABARZONmarker, and Metro Manilamarker, while Bicolanos predominate in Bicolmarker. Other ethnic groups are also present such as the Aeta of Zambalesmarker, the Ibanag of Cagayanmarker, and the Igorot of the Cordilleras.

Due to recent migrations populations of Hindus, Moros, and Chinese have also been present in urban areas. Populations of Spanish, Americans, Japanese, Koreans, Desis, and Filipino mestizos are also visible. Most Americans have settled in Angeles Citymarker and Olongapo Citymarker due to the former presence of the U.S. air and naval bases in Central Luzon.


Map of the dominant Ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines
Almost all of the languages of Luzon belong to the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family. Major regional languages include: Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicol, and Pangasinense. English is also used by many inhabitants.

Spain ruled the Philippines for 300 years. Spanish was the language of Philippine Revolution, and the 1899 Malolos Constitution proclaimed it as the official language. However, its use declined following the American occupation of the Philippines.


The major religion present in the island is Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church having the major denomination. Other sects include Protestantism, the Philippine Independent Church, and Iglesia ni Cristo. Indigenous traditions and rituals are also present.

Sizable communities of Buddhist and Muslim have also began to be present in Metro Manilamarker due to migrations of Moros and Chinese

See also

External links


  1. Pires, Tomé, A suma oriental de Tomé Pires e o livro de Francisco Rodriguez: Leitura e notas de Armando Cortesão [1512 - 1515], translated and edited by Armando Cortesao, Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1944.
  2. Hashimoto, M, ed., Accretion Tectonics in the Circum-Pacific Regions, ISBN 9027715610 p299
  3. Rangin and Pubellier in Tectonics of Circum-Pacific Continental Margins ISBN 9067641324 p148 fig 4
  8. PHILIPPINES: ADDITIONAL THREE PERSONS PER MINUTE National Statistics Office Accessed November 27, 2006

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