Mindanao is the second
largest and easternmost island in the
Philippines. It is also one of the three island groups in
the country, along with Luzon and Visayas.
Historically the island was also known as Gran
A Spanish map of Mindanao.
Mindanao is named after the Maguindanaons
who constituted the largest
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
the Philippines and far beyond.
Islam first spread to the region during the 13th
century through Arab traders from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia.
Prior to this contact, the inhabitants of
the area were primarily animists
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
The Philippine sultanates of Sulu
were subsequently in
the 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. In the late 16th to
early 17th centuries, the first contact with Spain
occurred. By this time, Islam was well established in
Mindanao and had started influencing groups as far north as
present-day Manila on the
island of Luzon.
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
"Moors") was given to the Philippine Islands' Muslim inhabitants by
Today the region is home to most of the country's Muslim
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
Mindanao is the second largest island in the country at 94,630
square kilometers, and is the eighth most populous island in the
. The island of Mindanao is larger than
125 countries worldwide, including the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Czech
Republic, Hungary, Taiwan and Ireland.
is mountainous, and is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the country.
is surrounded by seas: the Sulu Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea 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.
island group of Mindanao encompasses Mindanao island itself and the
Archipelago 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
volcanic or sedimentary.
Paralleling the east coast, from Bilas Point in Surigao del Norte to Cape Agustin in
southeast Davao, is a range of complex mountains known in their
northern portion as the Diwata
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 Bislig, 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
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
. 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.
north-south range extends along the western borders of Agusan and Davao
provinces from Camiguin
Island 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
Apo 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.
Western Mindanao, a range of complex structural mountains forms the
long, hand-like Zamboanga Peninsula.
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
Malindang, which rise
splendidly behind Ozamis
City 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
of volcanic mountains is found near Lake Lanao in a broad arc through Lanao del Sur, northern Cotabato and western Bukidnon 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 Ragang, an active volcano cone reaching 2,815 meters, is
the most isolated, while the greatest height is reached by Mount
Kitanglad at 2,896
southwestern Cotabato, 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
measures a mile and a
quarter in diameter and lies 300 meters below its 2,040 meter
summit. Mount Matutum is a protected area and is considered as one of the
major landmarks of South
important physiographic division of Mindanao is the series of
upland plateaus in Bukidnon and Lanao del
are rather extensive and almost surround
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
, and at several points spectacular
waterfalls drop to the narrow coastal plain. These falls hold
considerable promise for development of hydroelectric energy.
one such site at Maria Cristina Falls has already become a major producer.
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
Lanao occupies the major portion of one such plateau in
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 City, at the northern tip of the lake, is bisected by
the Agus River, which feeds the Maria
of Mindanao’s spectacular waterfall sites is located in Malabang,
15 miles south of Lake
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
contains two large inland lowland areas, the valleys of the
Agusan and Mindanao rivers in Agusan and Cotabato 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 Sea on the north to the Davao Gulf.
Mindanao River and its main
tributaries, the Catisan and the
Pulangi, 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 Cotabato. The southern extensions of this Cotabato
Valley extend uninterrupted across a 350-meter watershed from Illana Bay on the northwest to Sarangani Bay 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 Zamboanga.
In other areas such as the Davao Plain,
these coastal lowlands are as much as ten miles wide and several
times that length.
Dipolog eastward along the northern coast of Mindanao
almost to Butuan
City extends a rolling coastal plain of varying
width. In Misamis Occidental, the now dormant Mount Malindang has created a lowland averaging eight miles in
width. Shallow Panquil Bay divides this province from Lanao del
Norte, and is bordered by low-lying, poorly drained
lowlands and extensive mangroves. In Misamis
Oriental, the plain is narrower and in places almost pinched
out by rugged forelands which reach to the sea. East of Cagayan de
Oro City, a rugged peninsula extends well into the Mindanao
[[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
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
Archipelago to the southwest, which consists of the major
islands of Basilan, Jolo, and
Tawi-Tawi, plus outlying islands in other areas such as
Camiguin, Dinagat, Siargao, Samal.
The six regions are:
||Population 2007 Census
||Population density (/km²)
Image:MountApo1.jpg|Mt. Apo overlooks Davao City.Image:MariaCristinaFallsJuly2006.jpg|Maria
Cristina Falls in Iligan
District of Zamboanga
City.Image:Sunken Cemetery, Catarman,
Camiguin.jpg|Sunken Cemetery marker in Camiguin island.
City of Marawi.Image:Philippinen basilan moschee
ph05p27.jpg|Village Mosque in Basilan, ARMM
Region.Image:Tausug.jpg|Tausug woman in
traditional garb, performing the Pangalay Sulu.
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.
- List of Regions in the Philippines