Mindanao mainland in red;
its associated islands in maroon
|Adjacent bodies of water|
|Area||97,530 km2 (37,660 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,954 m (9,692 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Apo|
|Largest settlement||Davao City (pop. 1,632,991)|
|Population||25,537,691 (2018) (Mindanao island group) (2010)|
|Pop. density||243 /km2 (629 /sq mi)|
Mindanao (// ( listen)) is the second largest island in the Philippines. Mindanao and the smaller islands surrounding it make up the island group of the same name. Located in the southern region of the archipelago, as of the 2010 census, the main island was inhabited by 20,281,545 people, while the entire Mindanao island group had an estimated total of 25,537,691 (2018) residents.
According to the 2015 Philippine Population Census, Davao City is the most populous city on the island, with a population of 1,632,991 residents, followed by Zamboanga City (pop. 861,799), Cagayan de Oro City (pop. 675,950), General Santos City (pop. 594,446) and Iligan City (pop. 342,618). About 70% of residents identify as Christian, and 20% identify as Muslim. Mindanao is divided into six regions: Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, Davao, Soccsksargen, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Native ethnic groups in Mindanao include the Lumad (the Subanons of the Zamboanga Peninsula); the Bukidnon, Manobos, Mamanwas, Talaandig, and Higaonon of Northern Mindanao and Caraga; the T'boli and Teduray of SOCCSKSARGEN Region; and the Bagobo and Samal Mandayas of Davao), and the Moro (Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, and Sama) in ARMM and Soccsksargen.
- 1 Culture
- 2 Languages
- 3 Religion
- 4 History
- 5 Economy
- 6 Administrative divisions
- 7 Geography
- 8 Tourism
- 9 Energy
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The majority of the island's inhabitants are descendants of Indonesians, Malaysians, Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Europeans and Americans.
An American census conducted in the early 1900s noted that the island was inhabited by people "greatly divided in origin, temperament and religion". Evidence of the island's cultural diversity can be seen in the buildings and ruins of old Spanish settlements in the northwestern peninsula that span eastwards to the southern gulf coast, the site of the ancient Rajahnate of Butuan in the northeast region (Caraga), the Sultanates in the southwest (Sultanate of Sulu, Sultanate of Lanao, Sultanate of Maguindanao), a number of Buddhist and Taoist temples, and the numerous indigenous tribes.
Today around 25.8 percent of the household population in Mindanao classified themselves as Cebuanos. Other ethnic groups included Bisaya/Binisaya (18.4%), Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (8.2%), Maguindanaon (5.5%), and Maranao (5.4%). The remaining 36.6 percent belonged to other ethnic groups. Cebuano registered the highest proportion of ethnic group in Northern Mindanao and Davao Region with 35.59 percent and 37.76 percent, respectively. In SOCCSKSARGEN, it was Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (31.58%), Binisaya/Bisaya (33.10%) in Zamboanga Peninsula, Maranao (26.40%) in ARMM, and Surigaonon (25.67%) in Caraga.
Cebuano (often called Bisayà) is the most widely spoken language in Mindanao. Hiligaynon/Ilonggo is widely spoken in SOCCSKSARGEN and a few scattered areas surrounding the region. English and Tagalog are also widely understood and spoken amongst the peoples, with English being highly utilized in business and academia.
Chavacano a form of Spanish Creole is widely spoken in the western and southern regions of the Mindanao. Zamboangueño, one of the six dialects belonging to the Chavacano language, is used by a distinct ethnolinguistic group (Zamboangueños). It is the dominant language in Zamboanga City and Basilan; and is spoken to a lesser degree in Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. Other dialects in Chavacano are; Cotabateño in Cotabato City, and Castellano Abakay/Davaoeño Chavacano in the Davao Region.
Christianity is the dominant religious affiliation in Mindanao with 60.9% of the household population, majority of which are adherents of Roman Catholicism, Islam comprised 20.44%, and other religions were Evangelical (5.34%), Aglipayan (2.16%), Iglesia ni Cristo (1.66%)
The Subanon are believed to have established themselves on Mindanao Island during the Neolithic Era, or New Stone Age, the period in the development of human technology beginning around 10,000 BC according to the ASPRO chronology (between 4,500 and 2,000 BC).[clarification needed] The evidence of old stone tools in Zamboanga del Norte may indicate a late Neolithic presence. Ceramic burial jars, both unglazed and glazed, as well as Chinese celadons, have been found in caves, together with shell bracelets, beads, and gold ornaments. Many of the ceramic objects are from the Yuan and Ming periods. Evidently, there was a long history of trade between the Subanon and the Chinese long before the latter's contact with Islam.
Rajahnates and Hindu-Buddhism
In the classic epoch of Philippine history (900 AD onwards), the people of Mindanao were heavily exposed to Hindu and Buddhist influence and beliefs from Indonesia and Malaysia. Indianized abugida scripts such as Kawi and Baybayin was introduced via Sulawesi and Java, and the cultural icons of the sarong (known as malong or patadyong), the pudong turban, silk, and batik and ikat weaving and dyeing methods were introduced. Artifacts found from this era include the Golden kinnara, Golden Tara, and the Ganesh pendant. These cultural traits passed from Mindanao into the Visayas and Luzon, but were subsequently lost or heavily modified after the Spanish arrival in the 16th century.
The Hindu-Buddhist cultural revolution was strongest in the coastal areas of the island, but were incorporated into local animist beliefs and customs tribes that resided more inland. The Rajahnate of Butuan, a fully Hindu kingdom mentioned in Chinese records as a tributary state in the 10th century AD, was concentrated along the northeastern coast of the island around Butuan. The Darangen epic of the Maranao people harkens back to this era as the most complete local version of the Ramayana. The Maguindanao at this time also had strong Hindu beliefs, evidenced by the Ladya Lawana (Rajah Ravana) epic saga that survives to the modern day, albeit highly Islamized from the 17th century on wards.
Sultanates and Islam
The spread of Islam in the Philippines began in the 14th century, mostly by Muslim merchants from the western part of the Malay Archipelago. The first Mosque in the Philippines was built in the mid-14th century in the town of Simunul. Around the 16th century, Muslim sultanates: Sulu, Lanao and Maguindanao were established from formerly Hindu-Buddhist Rajahnates.
As Islam gained a foothold over most of Mindanao, the natives residing within the Sultanates were either converted into Islam or obligated to pay tribute to their new Muslim rulers. The largest of the Muslim settlements was the Sultanate named after the Maguindanaoans. Maps made during the 17th and 18th centuries suggest that the name Mindanao was used by the natives to refer to the island, by then Islam was well established in Mindanao and had influenced groups on other islands to the north.[dubious ]
Spanish Colonization and Christianity
On February 2, 1543, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos was the first Spaniard to reach Mindanao, he called the island "Caesarea Caroli" after Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (and I of Spain). Shortly after Spain's colonization of Cebu, they moved on to colonize Butuan and the surrounding Caraga region in northeast Mindanao and discovered significant Muslim presence on the island. Over time a number of tribes in Mindanao converted to Roman Catholicism and built settlements and forts throughout the coastal regions of the island. These settlements endured despite incurring attacks from neighboring Muslim Sultanates. The most heavily fortified of these settlements, apart from a short period in 1662 when Spain sent soldiers from the city to Manila after receiving a threat of invasion from the Chinese general Koxinga, was Zamboanga City.
By the late 18th century Spain had geographic dominance over the island, having established settlements and forts in most of Mindanao; including Zamboanga City and Misamis Occidental to the northwest, Iligan City, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Camiguin Island to the north, Butuan and the Caraga region to the east, and Davao in the island's gulf coast. Spain continued to engage in battles with Muslim Sultanates until the end of the 19th century.
In the Treaty of Paris in 1898 Spain sold the entire Philippine archipelago to the United States for $20 million. The 1900 Treaty of Washington and the 1930 Convention Between the United States and Great Britain clarified the borders between Mindanao and Borneo.
In 1939 the Philippine government encouraged citizens from Luzon and Visayas to migrate to Mindanao. Consisting mostly of Ilocanos, Cebuanos, and Illongos. Filipino settlers streaming into Soccsksargen lead to the displacement of the Blaan and Tboli tribes.
World War II
Davao City was among the earliest to be occupied by the invading Japanese Forces, and they immediately fortified the city as a bastion of the Japanese defense system. It was subjected by the returning forces of Gen. Macarthur to constant bombing, before the American Liberation Forces landed in Leyte in October 1945.
On April 1942 Mindanao, along with the rest of the Philippines, officially entered World War II after Japanese soldiers invaded key cities in the islands. Many towns and cities were burned to the ground in Mindanao, most notably Davao City, Zamboanga City, Lanao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, and Butuan. In the months of April and May 1942, Japanese forces defeated US troops commanded by Gen. William F. Sharp and Gen. Guy O. Fort, in a battle that started at Malabang (a town close to Gandamatu Macadar, Lanao) and ended close to the town of Ganassi, Lanao. Filipino soldiers and local guerrilla fighters were actively fighting Japanese forces until liberation at the conclusion of the Battle of Mindanao.
Violent conflicts in the southwestern regions of Mindanao, that began in the 1960s, led to the 1971 Manili Massacre, Pata Island Massacre, the founding of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the formation of the Ilaga.
In March 2000 President Estrada declared an "All Out War" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after the militant group committed a series of terrorist attacks on government buildings, civilians, and foreigners. A number of livelihood intervention projects, from organisations such as USAID and the Emergency Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), aided in the reconstruction of areas affected by constant battles on the island.
In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the entire island group of Mindanao following the Marawi Siege by the Maute terrorist group. Thousands of civilians were killed by the terrorist group during the siege, and more than 180,000 people were forced to evacuate Marawi City.
Tropical storm Sendong (international name, Washi) made landfall on December 15, 2011 in Mindanao. The recorded 24-hour rainfall in Lumbia station of PAGASA reached 180.9 mm causing the overflow of the Cagayan de Oro River. The deadly storm killed 1,268 people with 49 others listed as missing. Most of the casualties were from the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Those who survived were rendered homeless, seeking shelter in evacuation centers.
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Cagayan de Oro is the "melting pot of Mindanao" because of its accessibility, business growth and attractions. It is a business hub of the northern Mindanao region, with a reported income of ₱1.8 billion in fiscal year 2010. The city's economy is based on industry, commerce, trade, services and tourism. The city of Cagayan de Oro reported seven billion pesos in investment during the flirt six months of 2012, primarily in the service and industrial sectors. Investment in Metro Cagayan de Oro focuses on tourism, agriculture and the hospitality industry.
(6,585.64 sq mi)
(7,913.56 sq mi)
|Cagayan de Oro City|
(7,860.04 sq mi)
(8,692.43 sq mi)
(8,292.84 sq mi)
(4,840.10 sq mi)
|Region||2010 census||Area||Density||Regional center||Component LGUs|
Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines at 97,530 square kilometers, and is the eighth most populous island in the world. The island of Mindanao is larger than 125 countries worldwide, including the Netherlands, South Korea, Austria, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Ireland. The island is mountainous, and is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the country. Mindanao is surrounded by four seas: the Sulu Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the south, and the Mindanao Sea to the north. Of all the islands of the Philippines, Mindanao 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.
The Mindanao island group is an arbitrary grouping of islands in southern Philippines which comprises the Mindanao mainland, the Sulu Archipelago (consisting of the islands of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi), and the outlying islands of Camiguin, Dinagat, Siargao, and Samal.
The mountains of Mindanao can be grouped into ten 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, and Ultrabasic rocks at the surface in many places along the east coast. Other parts of the island consist mainly of Cenozoic and Quaternary volcanic or sedimentary rocks.
In the eastern portion of the island, from Bilas Point in Surigao del Norte to Cape San Agustin in Davao Oriental, is a range of complex mountains known in their northern portion as the Diwata Mountains. 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 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) of broad saddle across the mountains at a maximum elevation of less than 250 metres (820 ft); while the existing east–west road from Lianga, 48 kilometres (30 mi) north of Bislig, reaches a maximum elevation of only 450 metres (1,480 ft). The Diwata Mountains, north of these low points, are considerably higher and more rugged, reaching an elevation of 2,012 metres (6,601 ft) in Mount Hilong-Hilong, 17 miles (27 km) along the eastern portion of Cabadbaran City. The southern portion of this range is broader and even more rugged than the northern section. In Davao Oriental, several peaks rise above 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) and one mountain rises to 2,910 metres (9,550 ft).
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 and tiny islets. 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 Philippine Deep. This ocean trench, reaching measured depths of 34,696 feet (10,575 m), is the third deepest trench, (after the Mariana Trench and Tonga Trench) on the earth’s surface.
A second north–south mountain range extends from Talisayan in the north, to Tinaca Point in the southernmost point of Mindanao. This mountain range runs along the western borders of the Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Davao provinces. This range is mainly structural in origin, but it also contains at least three active volcano peaks. The central and northern portions of this range contain several peaks between 2,000 and 2,600 metres (6,600 and 8,500 ft), and here the belt of mountains is about 30 miles (48 km) across.
West of Davao City stand two inactive volcanoes: Mount Talomo at 2,893 metres (9,491 ft), and Mount Apo at 2,964 metres (9,724 ft). Mount Apo is the highest point in the Philippines. 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 metres (3,600 to 5,900 ft).
In Western Mindanao, a range of complex structural mountains forms the long, hand-like Zamboanga Peninsula. These mountains, reaching heights of only 1,200 meters (3,900 feet), are not as high as the other structural belts in Mindanao. 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 volcano, Mount Malindang, that towers over Ozamis City at a height of 2,425 metres (7,956 ft). Mount Dapia is the highest mountain in the Zamboanga Peninsula, reaching a height of 2,617 meters (8,586 feet). Batorampon Point is the highest mountain of the southernmost end of the peninsula, reaching a height of only 1,335 meters (4,380 feet); it is located in the boundary of Zamboanga City.
A series of volcanic mountains is located within the vicinity of Lake Lanao forming a broad arc through the Lanao del Sur, Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces. At least six of the twenty odd peaks in this area are active and several 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 metres (9,236 ft), is the most isolated, while the greatest height is reached by Mount Kitanglad at 2,889 metres (9,478 ft).
In South Cotabato, is another range of volcanic mountains, this time paralleling the coast. These mountains have a maximum extent of 110 miles (180 km) from northwest to southeast and measures some 30 miles (48 km) across. One of the well-known mountains here is Mount Parker, whose almost circular crater lake measures a mile and a quarter in diameter and lies 300 metres (980 ft) below its 2,040 metres (6,690 ft) summit. Mount Matutum is a protected area and is considered as one of the major landmarks in the South Cotabato province.
Another important physiographic division of Mindanao is the series of upland plateaus in the Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur provinces. These plateaus are rather extensive and almost surround several volcanoes in this area. The plateaus are made up of basaltic lava flows inter-bedded with volcanic ash and tuff. Near their edges, the plateaus are cut by deep canyons, and at several points waterfalls drop down to the narrow coastal plain. These falls hold considerable promise for development of hydroelectric energy. Indeed, 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, and offer relief from the often oppressive heat of the coastal lowlands.
Lakes and waterfalls
Lake Lanao occupies a large portion of one such plateau in Lanao del Sur. This lake is the largest lake in Mindanao and the second largest in the country; it is roughly triangular in shape with an 18-mile-long (29 km) base, having a surface at 780 meters above sea level, and is rimmed on the east, south, and west by a series of peaks reaching 2,300 meters. Marawi City, at the northern tip of the lake, is bisected by the Agus River, that feeds the Maria Cristina Falls.
Another of Mindanao’s waterfall sites is located in Malabang, 15 miles (24 km) south of Lake Lanao. 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 (240 m), is the highest waterfall in the Philippines; it is located in Iligan City.
Valleys, rivers, and plains
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 (180 km) from south to north and varies from 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 km) in width. 35 miles (56 km) 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 metres (660 ft), indicating the almost continuous nature of the lowland from the Mindanao Sea on the north to the Davao Gulf.
The Rio Grande de Mindanao and its main tributaries, the Catisan and the Pulangi, form a valley with a maximum length of 120 miles (190 km) and a width which varies from 12 miles (19 km) at the river mouth to about 60 miles (97 km) in central Cotabato. The southern extensions of this Cotabato Valley extend uninterrupted across a 350 metres (1,150 ft) 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, along the northwest coast of Zamboanga. In other areas such as the Davao Plain, these coastal lowlands are 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) wide and several times in length.
From Dipolog City eastward along the northern coast of Mindanao approaching Butuan City extends a rolling coastal plain of varying width. In Misamis Occidental, the now dormant Mount Malindang has created a lowland averaging 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) 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 whittle into rugged capes that reach the sea. East of Cagayan de Oro, a rugged peninsula extends into the Mindanao Sea.
Major tourist spots are scattered throughout Mindanao, consisting mostly of beach resorts, scuba diving resorts, surfing, museums, nature parks, mountain climbing, and river rafting. Siargao, best known for its surfing tower in Cloud 9, also has caves, pools, waterfalls, and lagoons. There are archaeological sites, historical ruins, and museums in Butuan. White Island is a popular tourist spot in Camiguin. The Duka Bay and the Matangale dive resorts in Misamis Oriental offer glass bottomed boat rides and scuba diving lessons. Cagayan de Oro has beach resorts, the Mapawa Nature Park, white water rafting and kayaking, museums, and historical landmarks. Ziplining is the main attraction at the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon. Iligan City has The Maria Christina Falls, Tinago Falls, nature parks, beaches, and historical landmarks. There are parks, historical buildings, the Vinta Ride at Paseo del Mar, boat villages, and the Fort Pilar Museum in Zamboanga City. There are festivals, fireworks, and the Beras Bird Sanctuary in Takurong City. Davao has Mt Apo, parks, museums, beaches, historical landmarks, and scuba diving resorts.
Precautions should be taken when traveling to ARMM and the Zamboanga Peninsula; pirates, human traffickers, drug cartels, and terrorist groups have been known to abduct, torture, and murder civilians in these regions. The island has the highest crime rate in the country.
This section needs to be updated.(July 2017)
Many areas in Mindanao suffer rotating 12-hour blackouts due to the island’s woefully inadequate power supply. The island is forecast to continue suffering from a 200-megawatt power deficit until 2015, when the private sector begins to operate new capacity. Aboitiz Equity Ventures, a publicly listed holdings company, has committed to supplying 1,200 megawatts through a coal-fired plant on the border of Davao City and Davao del Sur that is slated for operation by 2018. The Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex, which supplies more than half of Mindanao’s power supply, is currently producing only 635 megawatts of its 982 megawatts capacity due to the heavy siltation of the rivers that power the complex. Zamboanga City, an urbanised center in southwest Mindanao, is expected to begin experience daily three-hour brownouts due to the National Power Corporation’s decision to reduce power supply in the city by 10 megawatts. The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest power distributor in the Philippines, and Global Business Power Corp (GBPC), also a major provider, have announced plans to enter Mindanao for the first time to establish solutions for the power problems within the island.
- Davao City
- Zamboanga City
- Cagayan de Oro City
- General Santos City
- Iligan City
- Mindanao Development Authority
- Mindanao State University
- Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association
- Rajahnate of Butuan
- Sultanate of Maguindanao
- Sultanate of Sulu
- Moro people
- Provinces of the Philippines
- Regions of the Philippines
- Geography of the Philippines
- List of conflicts in the Philippines
- Indigenous peoples of the Philippines
- Young Moro Professionals Council
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mindanao.|
|Look up mindanao in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mindanao.|
|Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article Mindanao.|
- Geographic data related to Mindanao at OpenStreetMap
- Mindanao News
- Online Mindanao
- Davao City Official Website
- Zamboanga City Official Website
- Cagayan de Oro City Official Website
- Mindanao Development Authority Official Website
- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Official Website