Map of the Philippines
The Visayas is shown in color red
|Location||South East Asia|
|Major islands||Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, and Samar|
|Area||61,077 km2 (23,582 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,435 m (7,989 ft)|
|Regions||Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas.|
|Largest city||Cebu City|
|Population||11,203,760 (as of 2010 Philippines census)|
|Density||294.28 /km2 (762.18 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||ethnic groups.|
The Visayas // və-SY-əz or Visayan Islands (Visayan languages: Kabisay-an, Tagalog: Kabisayaan), is one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Mindanao and Luzon. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are considered the northeast extremity of the entire Sulu Sea. Residents are known as the Visayans.
A theory accepted by some scholars  states that the term Visayas was derived from the name of a 7th century thalassocratic Malay Srivijaya Empire. In Sanskrit, sri (श्री) means "fortunate," "prosperous," or "happy" and vijaya (विजय) means "victorious" or "excellence". In the 12th century, parts of the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas Islands were either subject or tributaries of the empire. 
The early people in the Visayas region were Austronesians and Negritos who migrated to the islands about 6,000 to 30,000 years ago. These early settlers were animist tribal groups. In the 12th century, settlers from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei, led by the chieftain Datu Puti and his tribes, settled in the island of Panay and its surrounding islands. By the 14th century, Arab traders and their followers, venturing into Maritime Southeast Asia, converted some of these tribal groups to Islam. These tribes practiced a mixture of Islam and Animism beliefs. There is evidence of trade among other Asian people. The Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Indonesian kingdoms since the tribal groups of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using the Malay language when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.
After the Magellan expedition, King Philip II of Spain sent Ruy López de Villalobos and Miguel López de Legazpi in 1543 and 1565 and claimed the islands for Spain. The Visayas region and many tribes began converting to Christianity and adopting western culture. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the effects of colonization on various ethnic groups soon turned sour and revolutions such as those of Francisco Dagohoy began to emerge.
During the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine–American War between 1896 to 1913, the island of Negros and other neighboring islands initiated their revolution. After gaining Philippine independence from colonial rule following World War II in 1946, the Visayas region established its community and re-formed its government, producing several notable presidents coming from the Visayas region.
In 2005, Palawan Island was transferred to Region VI (Western Visayas) by Executive Order 429. However this planned reorganization was held in abeyance. Hence, Palawan currently remains (as of May 2007) part of Region IV-B.
Historical Legends and Hypotheses 
Historical documents written in 1907 by Visayan historian Pedro Alcántara Monteclaro in his book Maragtas tell the story of the ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw from Borneo and came to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers were said to be the ancestors (from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit) of the Visayan people. The documents were accepted by Filipino historians and found their way into the history of the Philippines. As a result, the arrival of Bornean tribal groups in the Visayas is celebrated in the festivals of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan and Binirayan in San José, Antique. Foreign historians such as William Scott conclusively proved the book to be a Visayan folk tradition. Panay boasts of the Hinilawod as its oldest and longest epic.
A contemporary theory based on a study of genetic markers in present-day populations that Austronesian people from Taiwan populated the region of Luzon and headed south to the Visayas, Borneo, Indonesia, then to Pacific islands and to the east of the Indian Ocean. The study, though, may not explain inter-island migrations, which are also possible, such as Filipinos migrating to any other Philippine provinces.
According to Visayan folk traditions, the Visayas were populated by Malays from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit migrating from Borneo to Mindanao and to the Visayas, while other Malays crossed to Palawan through Sabah. Other Malays were suggested to have crossed from Samar island to the Bicol region in Luzon. The theory suggests that those ancient tribal groups who passed through Palawan may have migrated to what is now the island of Luzon.
A supplementary theory was that at that period, the Malay people were moving north from Mindanao to the Visayas and to Luzon. Various groups of Europeans and Chinese also integrated with the native population during that period.
Administrative divisions 
Administratively, the Visayas is divided into 3 regions, namely Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Each region is headed by a Regional Director who is elected from a pool of governors from the different provinces in each region.
The Visayas is composed of 16 provinces, each headed by a Governor. A governor is elected by popular vote and can serve a maximum of three terms consisting of three years each.
As for representation in the Philippine Congress, the Visayas is represented by 44 Congressmen elected in the same manner as the governors.
Western Visayas (Region VI) 
Central Visayas (Region VII) 
Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) 
Languages spoken at home primary are of the Visayan languages continuum which contains several different languages sometimes identified as dialects of the same language. Major languages include Hiligaynon or Ilonggo in much of Western Visayas, Cebuano in Central Visayas, and Waray in Eastern Visayas. Other dominant languages are Aklanon, Kinaray-a and Capiznon. Filipino, the national language based on Tagalog, is widely comprehensible but seldom used. English, an official language, is more widely known and is preferred as the second language most especially among urbanized Visayans. For instance, the latter is frequently used in schools, public signs and mass media.
See also 
- "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities". National Statistics Office of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Sulu Sea. Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. P.Saundry & C.J.Cleveland. Washington DC
- "Executive Order No. 429". President of the Philippines. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "Administrative Order No. 129". President of the Philippines. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- On May 23, 2005, Palawan and Puerto Princesa City were moved to Western Visayas by Executive Order No. 429. However, on August 19, 2005, President Arroyo issued Administrative Order No. 129 to hold the earlier EO 429 in abeyance pending a review. As of 2010[update], Palawan and the highly urbanized city of Puerto Princesa still remain a part of the MIMAROPA region.
- Jovito S. Abellana, "Bisaya Patronymesis Sri Visjaya" (Ms., Cebuano Studies Center, ca. 1960)
- Rasul, Jainal D. (2003). Agonies and Dreams: The Filipino Muslims and Other Minorities. Quezon City: CARE Minorities. pp. 77.
- President of the Philippines. "Executive order No. 429". Office of the Press Secretary. Archived from the original on 2007-03-18. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
- Scott 1984, pp. 81–103.
- Cristian Capelli et al. (2001). "A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian-Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania" (PDF). American Journal of Human Genetics 68 (2): 432–443. doi:10.1086/318205. PMC 1235276. PMID 11170891.
- Scott, William Henry (1984). Prehispanic Source Materials for the study of Philippine History. New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-0226-4.
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