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Not to be confused with Cotabato City.
For other uses, see Cotabato (disambiguation).
Flag of Cotabato
Official seal of Cotabato
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 07°12′N 124°51′E / 7.200°N 124.850°E / 7.200; 124.850Coordinates: 07°12′N 124°51′E / 7.200°N 124.850°E / 7.200; 124.850
Country Philippines
Founded September 1, 1914
November 22, 1973 (separated from Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat)

Kidapawan City (present)

Cotabato City* (1920-1967)

*Now an independent city and although geographically located within Maguindanao, yet statistically grouped under as part of Cotabato province.

**Today an integral part of Maguindanao.
 • Governor Emmylou J. Taliño-Mendoza (Liberal)
 • Vice Governor Gregorio T. Ipong (Independent)
 • Total 9,008.90 km2 (3,478.36 sq mi)
Area rank 76th out of 81
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 1,226,508
 • Rank 21st out of 81
 • Density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
 • Density rank 58th out of 81
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 1
 • Municipalities 17
 • Barangays 543
 • Districts 3 legislative districts
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 9400 to 9417
Dialing code 64
ISO 3166 code PH-NCO
Spoken languages Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Maguindanao, Chavacano, Tagalog, Manobo

Cotabato (formerly known as North Cotabato; Filipino: Hilagang Kotabato) is a landlocked province in the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao. Its capital is Kidapawan City.


Early history[edit]

Cotabato derives its name from the Maguindanao kuta wato (from Malay - "Kota Batu"), meaning "stone fort", referring to the stone fort which served as the seat of Sultan Muhammad Kudarat in what is now Cotabato City.

Islam was introduced in this part of the country in the later part of 15th century by Sharif Mohammed Kabungsuwan, an Arabo-Malay Muslim warrior-missionary. Sharif Kabungsuwan invaded Malabang in 1475, facing armed resistance from the non-Muslim natives, nevertheless successfully vanquishing and subjugating them to his (Islamic) rule through the might of his Samal warriors.[3]

Modern historians have pointed to the Cotabato delta as the medieval location of Toupo, the successor of the Maguindanao/Cotabato Sultanate.[4]

Spanish occupation[edit]

Christianity was introduced in 1596, but the Spaniards were unable to penetrate into the region until the second half of the 19th century. The district of Cotabato was formed in 1862, covering the areas of what is now Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces with its capital at Tamontaka. Fort Pikit was established by the Spaniards in 1893 as they continued their conquest of the remnants of Maguindanao Sultanate, which would soon be the site of one of the province's oldest towns, Pikit.

American occupation[edit]

The coming of the Americans ushered in the creation of the Moro Province on July 15, 1903, through Act No. 787 of the Philippine Commission. Cotabato, covering what are now the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani, became a district of the huge Moro province. During the American period, large companies were established in Cotabato to exploit the vast timber resources of the region. By the 1930s, settlers from Luzon and Visayas established homesteads in Cotabato.

World War II[edit]

In December 1941, Japanese planes bombed and invaded in Cotabato. In 1942, Cotabato was occupied by the Japanese Imperial forces. The establishment of the military general headquarters of the Philippine Commonwealth Army was active on 1942 to 1946 and the Philippine Constabulary 10th Infantry Regiment was active again on 1944 to 1946 and military stationed on Cotabato. Moro guerrilla fighters invaded around the province of Cotabato and help them of all local force of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and pre-war Philippine Constabulary 10th Infantry Regiments by fought against the Imperial Japanese Army until 1944, the Moro guerrillas was retreating Japanese troops before liberated. In 1945, Cotabato was recaptured from the Japanese Imperial forces by the combined Filipino and American troops together with the recognized Moro guerrilla units. The guerrillas used the traditional Moro Kampilan, Barong and Kris swords.

Sovereign Philippines[edit]

The pace of settlement in the region accelerated in the 1950s and 1960s. The former province of Cotabato was once the largest in the Philippines. In 1966, South Cotabato was created as a separate province. On November 22, 1973, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 341, what remained of the old Cotabato was further divided into the provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.[5] North Cotabato was later renamed Cotabato through Batas Pambansa Blg. 660 approved on March 7, 1984.[6]

Cotabato is now composed of the capital city of Kidapawan, 17 municipalities, and 543 barangays. The province currently has three congressional districts.


Cotabato lies on the eastern part of Region XII and is centrally located in Mindanao. It is bounded on the north by the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon, on the east by Davao City and Davao del Norte, on the west by Maguindanao and on the southeast by Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur.

Cotabato is strategically linked to the major "Arterial Road System" that traverses and connects the province to Davao City - SOCCSKSARGEN - Cotabato Corridor. The Cotabato via Kabacan - Maramag - Kibawe, Bukidnon Sayre Highway meanwhile serves as its link to the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan City Corridor.

Cotabato stretches west from Mount Apo, which separates it from Davao, to the Piapayungan Range on its boundary with Lanao. In the midst of these uplands is the basin of the Pulangi River or Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second longest in the Philippines at 373 kilometres (232 mi), which rises in Bukidnon and flows south to Maguindanao and Illana Bay. The province’s fertile plains are traversed by tributaries of this great river.

Typhoons do not pass through Cotabato and rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Cotabato is subdivided into 17 municipalities and one city.[7]

City or
District[7] Area
(per km²)
No. of

Alamada 1st 787.50 56,813 72.1 17 9413 1st 7°23′24″N 124°32′59″E / 7.3900461°N 124.5498319°E / 7.3900461; 124.5498319 (Alamada)
Aleosan 1st 225.44 35,746 158.6 19 9415 3rd 7°09′08″N 124°34′53″E / 7.1523126°N 124.5813131°E / 7.1523126; 124.5813131 (Aleosan)
Antipas 2nd 552.50 25,242 45.7 13 9414 2nd 7°14′42″N 125°03′14″E / 7.2450454°N 125.0539613°E / 7.2450454; 125.0539613 (Antipas)
Arakan 2nd 693.22 43,554 62.8 28 9417 2nd 7°21′05″N 125°07′34″E / 7.3514859°N 125.1262093°E / 7.3514859; 125.1262093 (Arakan)
Banisilan 3rd 577.22 39,914 69.1 20 9416 2nd 7°30′21″N 124°41′41″E / 7.5058092°N 124.69474°E / 7.5058092; 124.69474 (Banisilan)
Carmen 3rd 1110.43 82,469 74.3 28 9408 1st 7°12′16″N 124°47′43″E / 7.2045108°N 124.795371°E / 7.2045108; 124.795371 (Carmen)
Kabacan 3rd 448.09 81,282 181.4 24 9407 1st 7°07′00″N 124°49′00″E / 7.116667°N 124.816667°E / 7.116667; 124.816667 (Kabacan)
Kidapawan 2nd 358.47 125,447 350 40 9400 3rd 7°00′30″N 125°05′30″E / 7.0083491°N 125.0916892°E / 7.0083491; 125.0916892 (Kidapawan)
Libungan 1st 172.50 45,295 262.6 20 9411 2nd 7°14′25″N 124°31′11″E / 7.2403837°N 124.5198584°E / 7.2403837; 124.5198584 (Libungan)
M'lang 3rd 312.13 87,749 281.1 37 9402 1st 6°56′47″N 124°52′42″E / 6.9463946°N 124.8783395°E / 6.9463946; 124.8783395 (M'lang)
Magpet 2nd 755.36 45,183 59.8 32 9404 1st 7°06′09″N 125°07′28″E / 7.1023706°N 125.1245754°E / 7.1023706; 125.1245754 (Magpet)
Makilala 2nd 343.57 77,508 225.6 38 9401 1st 6°57′41″N 125°05′09″E / 6.9613114°N 125.0858527°E / 6.9613114; 125.0858527 (Makilala)
Matalam 3rd 476.00 74,034 155.5 34 9406 1st 7°05′55″N 124°53′59″E / 7.0986784°N 124.8998494°E / 7.0986784; 124.8998494 (Matalam)
Midsayap 1st 290.42 134,170 462 57 9410 1st 7°11′21″N 124°32′06″E / 7.1891706°N 124.5349296°E / 7.1891706; 124.5349296 (Midsayap)
Pigcawayan (Pigkawayan) 1st 340.11 59,975 176.3 40 9412 1st 7°16′45″N 124°25′27″E / 7.2791609°N 124.4242697°E / 7.2791609; 124.4242697 (Pigkawayan)
Pikit 1st 604.61 113,014 186.9 42 9409 1st 7°03′13″N 124°40′20″E / 7.0537358°N 124.6722475°E / 7.0537358; 124.6722475 (Pikit)
President Roxas 2nd 618.25 44,029 71.2 25 9405 1st 7°09′16″N 125°03′20″E / 7.15432°N 125.05543°E / 7.15432; 125.05543 (President Roxas)
Tulunan 3rd 343.08 54,884 160 29 9403 2nd 6°49′50″N 124°52′22″E / 6.8305327°N 124.8728111°E / 6.8305327; 124.8728111 (Tulunan)
 †  Provincial capital and component city      Municipality
  • Coordinates mark the city/town center vicinity, and are sorted according to latitude.
  • Names in italics indicate alternate names.
  • Income classifications for cities are italicized.


Population census of
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 763,995 —    
1995 862,666 +2.30%
2000 958,643 +2.29%
2007 1,121,974 +2.19%
2010 1,226,508 +3.29%
Source: National Statistics Office[2]
Spoken languages in Cotabato
Languages percentage
Hiligaynon (Ilonggo)
Cebuano (Bisaya)

Cotabato is a melting pot of people. The first Visayan settlers reached the town of Pikit in 1913, and since then, Christian migrants have moved and lived in Cotabato, cohabitating the province with the local indigenous groups. 71% of Cotabato’s population are migrants from Luzon and the Visayas, while the remaining 18% belong to the indigenous communities Manobo, T'boli, and Maguindanao. The major languages spoken are Hiligaynon (43%), Cebuano (31%), Maguindanao (16%), and Ilocano (10%).

Based on the National Statistics Office, Cotabato has an overall population of 918,992 (2000 Official Census). The average population growth rate is 1.36%, which is under the national average of 2.12%.


Contrary to the belief of some Filipinos, Cotabato is actually a predominantly Roman Catholic province with 58% adherence (due to many decades of immigration from Luzon and Visayas) while Islam is a significant minority religion. The minority remainders are divided among some Protestant Christians.


Cotabato is considered as Mindanao’s food basket. It is a major producer of cereals, tropical fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, coconut, coffee, freshwater fish and livestock.

It is also one of the country’s leading producers of raw and semi-processed rubber and industrial trees, with markets in Asia and Europe.

Among its major natural assets are Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak at 10,311 feet above sea level, the Pulangi River which is a major contributor to Mindanao’s irrigation system and hydro-electric energy, and the vast Liguasan Marsh which not only supplies a bounty of freshwater fish and organic fertilizer but considered as a possible source as well of natural gas.

Power utility in the province comes from two energy sources - the NAPOCOR Agus Grid in Iligan transmitted through its Tacurong Substations and the Mindanao 1 Geothermal Power Plant at the foot of Mt. Apo in Ilomavis, Kidapawan City which produces 97 megawatts of electricity. Power distribution is handled by Cotabato Electric Cooperative, Inc. (COTELCO).

The province has a 4, 131.32 km road network connecting the major centers to each other and the outlying barangays, and communication linkage through NDD-IDD, fax, cellular phone and the internet is available.


President Benigno Aquino III signed the law dividing to new 3 legislative district of Cotabato on September 14, 2012. The representative shall continue to serve until next national election.[9]

Elected provincial officials:

  • House of Representatives
  1. 1st District- Rep. Susing Sacdalan
  2. 2nd District- Rep. Nancy Catamco
  3. 3rd District- Rep. Jose Pingping I. Tejada


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 341: Creating the Provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat". Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes. Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. 22 November 1973. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Batas Pambansa Blg. 660 - An Act Changing the Name of the Province of North Cotabato to Cotabato". Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes. Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. 22 November 1973. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Province: Cotabato (North Cotabato)". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010 (SOCCSKSARGEN)" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Burgonio, TJ (15 September 2012). "Aquino signs law reapportioning Cotabato into 3 districts". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 

External links[edit]