Samal people

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Total population
360,000 for Muslims in Sulu Archipelago (Ency. Britannica 2010)
Regions with significant populations
Sulu Archipelago, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Davao del Sur in the Philippines
Samal language, Chabacano, Cebuano, Tagalog, English
Sunni Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Animism
Related ethnic groups
other Bajau people and Moros, other Lumad, Visayans, Austronesian people

Samal is the term that many Filipinos know for the indigenous ethnic group in the Philippines the Sama. Outsiders often describe Muslim Sama as Samals and animist or ocean-dwelling Sama as Badjao. In Malaysia both groups are known as the Bajau peoples. They mostly live in Sulu Archipelago, Zamboanga Peninsula, and coastal regions of the island of Mindanao. In Davao del Norte the Island Garden City of Samal was named after them due to the high population of Samals that once lived there.


Samal are a seafaring people who originated in Borneo.[citation needed] They are the original inhabitants of the Sulu archipelago and since early Philippine history have been traveling back and forth from communities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Samal were possibly the first Muslims in the Philippines. The oldest mosque, founded by Makhdum Karim is found among Samal communities on the island of Simunul. It was also the Samal master sailors who brought and acted as warriors of Shariff Kabunsuan to the Maguindanaon in Cotabato City. After helping Shariff Kabunsuan it is recorded that they continued on towards Saranggani Province and Davao.

Samal are one of the most dispersed people groups in Southeast Asia. The Samals both belong to either the Moro or Lumad groups depending on their religion.