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Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippinesmarker. It is also one of the three island groups in the country, along with Luzonmarker and Visayasmarker. Historically the island was also known as Gran Molucas or Great Mollucas.

History

A Spanish map of Mindanao.


Mindanao is named after the Maguindanaons who constituted the largest Sultanate historically, and evidence from maps made during the 17th and 18th centuries suggests that the name was used to refer to the island by natives at the time. Evidence of human occupation dates back tens of thousands of years. In prehistoric times the Negrito people arrived. Sometime around 1500 BC Austronesian peoples spread throughout the Philippines and far beyond.

Islam first spread to the region during the 13th century through Arab traders from present-day Malaysiamarker and Indonesiamarker. Prior to this contact, the inhabitants of the area were primarily animists living in small autonomous communities. The indigenous population was quickly converted and the first mosque in the Philippines was built in the mid 14th century in the town of Simunulmarker. The Philippine sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao were subsequently in the 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. In the late 16th to early 17th centuries, the first contact with Spainmarker occurred. By this time, Islam was well established in Mindanao and had started influencing groups as far north as present-day Manilamarker on the island of Luzonmarker.

Upon the Spaniards' arrival to the Philippines, they were dismayed to find such a strong Muslim presence on the island, having just expelled the Moors from Spain after centuries. In fact, the name Moros (the Spanish word for "Moors") was given to the Philippine Islands' Muslim inhabitants by the Spanish.

Today the region is home to most of the country's Muslim or Moro populations, composed of many ethnic groups such as the Maranao and the Tausug, the Banguingui (users of the vinta), as well as the collective group of indigenous tribes known as the Lumad.

Geography

Mindanao is the second largest island in the country at 94,630 square kilometers, and is the eighth most populous island in the world. The island of Mindanao is larger than 125 countries worldwide, including the Netherlandsmarker, Austriamarker, Portugalmarker, Czech Republicmarker, Hungarymarker, Taiwanmarker and Irelandmarker. The island is mountainous, and is home to Mount Apomarker, the highest mountain in the country. Mindanao is surrounded by seas: the Sulu Seamarker to the west, the Philippine Seamarker to the east, and the Celebes Seamarker to the south. Of all the islands of the Philippines, Mindanao and Borneo shows the greatest variety of physiographic development. High, rugged, faulted mountains; almost isolated volcanic peaks; high rolling plateaus; and broad, level, swampy plains are found there.

The island group of Mindanao encompasses Mindanao island itself and the Sulu Archipelagomarker to the southwest. The island group is divided into six regions, which are further subdivided into 25 provinces.

Mountains and plateaus

The mountains of Mindanao can be conveniently grouped into five ranges, including both complex structural mountains and volcanoes. The structural mountains on the extreme eastern and western portions of the island show broad exposures of Mesozoic rock with ultrabasic rocks at the surface in many places along the east coast. Surface rock in other areas of the island is mainly Tertiary and Quarternary volcanic or sedimentary.

Paralleling the east coast, from Bilas Point in Surigao del Nortemarker to Cape Agustin in southeast Davao, is a range of complex mountains known in their northern portion as the Diwata Mountains. This range is low and rolling in its central portion. A proposed road connecting Bislig on the east coast with the Agusan River would pass through a ten-mile broad saddle across the mountains at a maximum elevation of less than 250 meters, while the existing east-west road from Lianga, 30 air miles north of Bisligmarker, reaches a maximum elevation of only 450 meters. The Diwata Mountains, north of these low points, are considerably higher and more rugged, reaching an elevation of 2,012 meters in Mount Hilonghilong, 17 miles northeast of Butuan Citymarker. The southern portion of this east coast range is broader and even more rugged than the northern section. In eastern Davao, several peaks rise above 2,500 meters and one unnamed mountain rises to 2,810 meters.

The east-facing coastal regions of Davao and Surigao del Sur are marked by a series of small coastal lowlands separated from each other by rugged forelands which extend to the water’s edge. Offshore are numerous coral reefs and tiny islets. This remote and forbidding coast is made doubly difficult to access during the months from October to March by the heavy surf driven before the northeast trade winds. A few miles offshore is found the Mindanao or Philippine Deep. This ocean trench, reaching measured depths of 35,400 feet, marks one of the greatest depths known on the earth’s surface.

A second north-south range extends along the western borders of Agusan and Davao provinces from Camiguin Islandmarker in the north to Tinaca Point in the south. This range is mainly structural in origin, but it also contains at least three active volcano peaks. In the central and northern portions of this range, there are several peaks between 2,000 and 2,500 meters, and here the belt of mountains is about 30 miles across. West of the city of Davao are two active volcanoes: Mount Talomo at 2,693 meters and Mount Apomarker at 2,954 meters. Mount Apo is the highest point in the Philippines and dominates the skyline. South of Mount Apo, this central mountain belt is somewhat lower than it is to the north, with peaks averaging only 1,100 to 1,800 meters.

In Western Mindanao, a range of complex structural mountains forms the long, hand-like Zamboanga Peninsulamarker. These mountains, reaching heights of only 1,200 meters, are not as high as the other structural belts in Mindanao. In addition, there are several places in the Zamboanga Mountains where small inter-mountain basins have been created, with some potential for future agricultural development. The northeastern end of this range is marked by the twin peaks of the now extinct volcano, Mount Malindangmarker, which rise splendidly behind Ozamis Citymarker to a height of 2,425 meters. Mount Dapia is the highest mountain in the Zamboanga Peninsula, reaching a height of 2,617 meters (8,586 ft). Meanwhile, Batorampon Point is the highest mountain of the southernmost end of the peninsula, reaching a height of only 1,335 meters (4,380 ft); it is located in the boundary of Zamboanga Citymarker.

A series of volcanic mountains is found near Lake Lanaomarker in a broad arc through Lanao del Surmarker, northern Cotabatomarker and western Bukidnonmarker provinces. At least six of the twenty odd peaks in this area are active and several are very impressive as they stand in semi-isolation. The Butig Peaks, with their four crater lakes, are easily seen from Cotabato. Mount Ragangmarker, an active volcano cone reaching 2,815 meters, is the most isolated, while the greatest height is reached by Mount Kitangladmarker at 2,896 meters.

In southwestern Cotabatomarker, still another range of volcanic mountains is found, this time paralleling the coast. These mountains have a maximum extent of 110 miles from northwest to southeast and measure some 30 miles across. One of the well-known mountains here is Mount Parker, whose almost circular crater lake measures a mile and a quarter in diameter and lies 300 meters below its 2,040 meter summit. Mount Matutummarker is a protected area and is considered as one of the major landmarks of South Cotabatomarker Province.

A second important physiographic division of Mindanao is the series of upland plateaus in Bukidnonmarker and Lanao del Surmarker provinces. These plateaus are rather extensive and almost surround several volcanoes in this area. The plateaus are made up of basaltic lava flows interbedded with ash and volcanic tuff. Near their edges, the plateaus are cut by deep canyons, and at several points spectacular waterfalls drop to the narrow coastal plain. These falls hold considerable promise for development of hydroelectric energy. Indeed, one such site at Maria Cristina Fallsmarker has already become a major producer. Because the rolling plateaus lie at an elevation averaging 700 meters above sea level, they offer relief from the often oppressive heat of the coastal lowlands. Lake Lanaomarker occupies the major portion of one such plateau in Lanao del Surmarker. This largest lake on Mindanao and second in the country is roughly triangular in shape with an 18-mile long base. Having a surface at 780 meters above sea level, and being rimmed on the east, south and west by series of peaks reaching 2,300 meters, the lake provides a scenic grandeur and pleasant temperature seldom equaled in the country. Marawi Citymarker, at the northern tip of the lake, is bisected by the Agus River, which feeds the Maria Cristina Fallsmarker.

Another of Mindanao’s spectacular waterfall sites is located in Malabang, 15 miles south of Lake Lanaomarker. Here the Jose Abad Santos Falls present one of the nation’s scenic wonders at the gateway to a 200-hectare national park development.

The Limunsudan Falls, with an approximate height of 800 ft, is the highest water falls in the Philippines; it is located at Iligan City.

Plains

Mindanao contains two large inland lowland areas, the valleys of the Agusan and Mindanao rivers in Agusan and Cotabatomarker Provinces, respectively. There is some indication that the Agusan Valley occupies a broad syncline between the central mountains and the east-coast mountains. This valley measures 110 miles from south to north and varies from 20 to 30 miles in width. Thirty five miles north of the head of Davao Gulf lies the watershed between the Agusan and the tributaries of the Libuganon River, which flows to the Gulf. The elevation of this divide is well under 200 meters, indicating the almost continuous nature of the lowland from the Mindanao Seamarker on the north to the Davao Gulfmarker.

The Mindanao River and its main tributaries, the Catisan and the Pulangimarker, form a valley with a maximum length of 120 miles and a width which varies from 12 miles at the river mouth to about 60 miles in central Cotabatomarker. The southern extensions of this Cotabato Valley extend uninterrupted across a 350-meter watershed from Illana Baymarker on the northwest to Sarangani Baymarker on the southeast.

Other lowlands of a coastal nature are to be found in various parts of Mindanao. Many of these are tiny isolated pockets, as along the northwest coast of Zamboangamarker. In other areas such as the Davao Plain, these coastal lowlands are as much as ten miles wide and several times that length.

From Dipologmarker eastward along the northern coast of Mindanao almost to Butuan Citymarker extends a rolling coastal plain of varying width. In Misamis Occidentalmarker, the now dormant Mount Malindangmarker has created a lowland averaging eight miles in width. Shallow Panquil Baymarker divides this province from Lanao del Nortemarker, and is bordered by low-lying, poorly drained lowlands and extensive mangroves. In Misamis Orientalmarker, the plain is narrower and in places almost pinched out by rugged forelands which reach to the sea. East of Cagayan de Oro Citymarker, a rugged peninsula extends well into the Mindanao Sea.

Political divisions

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

For the exclaves, see the text.]]

The island group of Mindanao is an arbitrary grouping of islands in the Southern Philippines which encompasses six administrative regions. These regions are further subdivided into 25 provinces, of which only four are not on Mindanao island itself. Some of the areas are semi-autonomous Muslim areas. The island group includes the Sulu Archipelagomarker to the southwest, which consists of the major islands of Basilanmarker, Jolomarker, and Tawi-Tawimarker, plus outlying islands in other areas such as Camiguinmarker, Dinagatmarker, Siargao, Samalmarker.

The six regions are:

Administrative region Area (km²) Population 2007 Census Population density (/km²)
Zamboanga Peninsulamarker 16,823 3,230,094 192.0
Northern Mindanao 20,132 3,952,437 196.3
Davao Region 20,244 4,156,653 205.3
SOCCSKSARGEN 22,466 3,829,081 170.4
Caragamarker 21,471 2,293,480 106.8
ARMM* 26,974 4,120,795 152.8
Mindanao (Group) 128,110 21,582,540 168.4


Galleries

Image:MountApo1.jpg|Mt. Apo overlooks Davao Citymarker.Image:MariaCristinaFallsJuly2006.jpg|Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan Citymarker.Image:Climaco_ave..jpg‎|Central Business District of Zamboanga Citymarker.Image:Sunken Cemetery, Catarman, Camiguin.jpg|Sunken Cemetery marker in Camiguinmarker island.Image:Marawi_City_II.jpg‎|The Islamic City of Marawi.Image:Philippinen basilan moschee ph05p27.jpg|Village Mosque in Basilanmarker, ARMM Region.Image:‎Tausug.jpg‎|Tausug woman in traditional garb, performing the Pangalay Sulumarker.

Culture

The Cebuano language is spoken by the majority of people in Mindanao. Cebuano is generally the native language in most regions, except for the Muslim areas on the west coast and among the hill tribes.

Christians form the majority, with 63% of the population; Muslims are 32% of the population (mostly on the southern part of the island); 5% are affiliated with other religions.

The native Maguindanaon and other native Muslim/non-Muslim groups of Mindanao have a culture that is different from the main cultures of the Southern Philippines.

See also



Notes

References

  1. List of Regions in the Philippines


External links




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