The topography of Kalinga province is rugged and sloping, with mountain peaks ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 metres (4,900 to 8,200 ft) in elevation. The province’s western side is characterised by sharp, crested, interlinking peaks of steep slopes, isolated flatlands, plateaus and valleys. The eastern lands are mainly of rolling and gradually sloping foothills.
Large swaths of the province's lowlands are open grassland suitable for pasture, while the highlands have extensive areas of tropical rainforest. In higher elevations to the west, particularly in the mountains of Balbalan, lie some of the most intact pine forests of Luzon island. Rizal and Tabuk with their flatlands are the biggest rice producers. Next in rice production are the mountainous area, and of note are the riceterraces of Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Tinglayan, and Tanudan.
The province enjoys an average temperature ranging from 17 to 22 °C (63 to 72 °F) with Type 3 weather patterns. The dry season extends from November to April, while the rest of the year is considered the rainy season, the heaviest rains usually occurring from July to October.
The province is drained mainly by the Chico River, with its headwaters in the Mountain Province and emptying into the Cagayan River. The Chico River has several tributaries: Bunog River in Tinglayan in the south; the Tanudan and Biga Rivers in the east; Pasil River in the central area; and Poswoy, Dao-angan, Mabaca and Saltan Rivers in the west. Several small lakes can also be found in Kalinga. These water resources if to be tapped could provide abundant sources for power generation, fishing, irrigation and for domestic use, but would destroy rice terraces, villages, livelihoods, and complete indigenous cultures.
There are many sub-tribes in the province. The strong sense of tribal membership and filial loyalty results in frequent tribal unrest and occasional outright war. Due to the mountainous terrain and warrior-culture of the people, the Kalinga were able to preserve their culture despite centuries of occupation in the lowlands by the Spaniards, Americans, and the Japanese. Unbeknownst to many, the last stand of PresidentEmilio Aguinaldo in 1901 took place in Lubuagan, which he proclaimed the seat of government, and where the Aguinaldo Museum commemorates the event.
The Kalinga people are highlanders and the most extensive rice farmers of the Cordillera peoples, having been blessed with some of the most suitable land for both wet and dry rice farming. Like the Ifugao, the Kalinga are prolific terrace builders. The Kalinga are also skilled craftsmen, well-versed in basketry, loomweaving, metalsmithing, and pottery, the last centred in the lower Chico River Valley.