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  Political Subdivisions:  
Five Provinces (click province to view map)    
Islamic City of Marawi    
102 Municipalities    
2,454 Barangays    
  Total Land Area:
27,5127.1 sq. km., about 4% of the total Philippine Land Area






Pop. density(per km²)


Isabela City  



Lanao del Sur                

Islamic City of Marawi                 




Shariff Aguak                



Shariff Kabunsuan   

Datu Odin Sinsuat    











  Source: http://www.armm.gov.ph
Used with permission by ARMM.
  Mindanao Kilometer Distances >>> click here to view  
Cunanan Map House: Political Map of the Philippines, 2008 Edition
  ARMM Provinces  



The island's early settlers were the Orang Dampuans originating from the islands of Eastern Indonesia, who were the ancestors of the Yakan. The Yakans, inhabited the Sulu Archipelago before the Muslims from Sumatra and Borneo gained control of the area in the 14th century.[3]. The legendary Sultan Kudarat of Maguindanao maintained a stronghold in Lamitan town until the Spaniards under the command of Governor General Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera crushed it in 1637. Jesuit missionaries arrived a few years later. In anticipation of an invasion from the Chinese pirate-warlord Koxinga, that would devastate Manila, the Spanish authorities withdrew all stations in the south of the country to augment their forces holed up in Intramuros, temporarily freeing Zamboanga and Isabela from Spanish administration in 1663. The Spanish eventually returned, and after having established lucrative trading agreements with the native kingdoms that dotted the area, nearby Zamboanga experienced a revival in its economy. The increasingly wealthy Spanish trading post in Zamboanga became an even more sought after prize for the Muslim pirates of the era, so much so that the surrounding islands started to attract the attention of other foreign powers, and chief among these coveted islands was Basilan.

The Dutch attacked Basilan in 1747 but were repulsed by the natives, who had by then organized a minor, short-lived fiefdom under the Tausug Datu Bantilan. The French then attempted to occupy the island which they called Taguime in 1844, but they, too, failed. Soon thereafter, the Spaniards built a stone fort - Fuerte de Isabela Segunda - named after the Spanish child-queen of the time, Queen Isabela II.

When the town of Zamboanga became a chartered city in 1936, it included Basilan. on 1942, the Japanese soldiers landed in Basilan, in 1945, liberated in Basilan landed from the Filipino troops and Filipino guerillas used the weapons and Kampilan and Kris swords attack to the Japanese troops during World War II, On July 1, 1948, by virtue of a bill filed by then congressman Juan S. Alano, Basilan itself became a separate city. The city was converted into a province on December 27, 1973 after incessant fighting forced the hand of Filipino Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to issue a Presidential Decree to the effect. Initially, 10 Municipalities were created, and these were: Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso, Lantawan, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo, Tuburan, Pilas, Tapiantana, and Malamawi. This was eventually reduced to seven municipalities, with the three outlying island-municipalities being merged with their nearest neighbor.


Lanao del Sur


Lanao comes from the word ranao, meaning "lake." Lanao centers on the basin of Lake Lanao; thus, it is the land of the Maranaos, the "people of the lake."

When the Spaniards first explored Lanao in 1689, they found a well-settled community named Dansalan at the lake's northern end. Dansalan became a municipality in 1907 and a city in 1940, in 1942, occupied from the Japanese Imperial forces landed in Southern Lanao, in 1945, beginning to liberation in Southern Lanao landed and entered to the Philippine Commonwealth troops and Maranao guerilla units used the weapons and Maranao Kris and Kampilan swords against the Japanese forces during in the Battle of Lanao, although it was inaugurated as such only in 1950. In 1956, Republic Act NO. 1352 changed the name Dansalan to Marawi, from the word rawi, referring to the reclining lilies in the Agus River.

When Lanao was divided into two provinces under Republic Act No. 2228 in 1959, Marawi was made the capital of Lanao del Sur. In 1980, the city was renamed the Islamic City of Marawi. It is now the only chartered city in the country with a predominantly Muslim population.

In a 1989 plebiscite, Lanao del Sur voted to join the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but Marawi City elected to remain outside ARMM.




Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johore introduced Islam in the area at the end of the 15th century. He subsequently married a local princess and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. The Cotabato Valley formed the sultanate's heartland but its influence extended from the Zamboanga Peninsula to Sarangani Bay and Davao.

The Spaniards launched expeditions to subdue the area throughout the colonial era but they never gained control of the region until the middle of the 19th century.

During the American period, Cotabato became a district of the Moro Province created in 1903 and a province of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu in 1914.
The old province of Cotabato was subsequently divided first into Cotabato and South Cotabato in 1966 and later, Cotabato into 3 more provinces which were Maguindanao was created in November 22, 1973, along with North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Maguindanao is the only Muslim province of the four created out of the former Cotabato Province. In 1989, the province opted to join the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but Cotabato City did not, which ironically serves as the capital of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

On October 31, 2006, voters in Maguindanao?s 29 municipalities have approved the creation of a new province to be composed of 10 towns. Of Maguindanao?s more than 500,000 registered voters, 285,372 favored the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan province. Only 8,802 voted against it.

Shariff Kabunsuan became the country?s 80th province and the 6th in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The new province, carved out of Maguindanao, is composed of the towns of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Sultan Mastura, Parang, Buldon, Matanog and Barira.

ARMM is now composed of Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the city of Marawi.

The new province was named after an Arab-Malay Islamic preacher who introduced Islam in Central Mindanao in the 14th century.

  Source: http://www.armm.gov.ph
Used with permission by ARMM.



The Sulu archipelago is the southernmost chain of islands in the Philippines which extends a stretch of 200 miles from the Zamboanga Peninsula all the way to Borneo. This island group was once the principal route of early migrations, maritime traffic and Islamization from north Borneo to the mainland of Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon. The archipelago consists of 369 named islands with at least 500 nameless protrusions. It has a total land area of 1,085 square miles of which only 10 percent is suitable for cultivation. The arable lands are found in three island clusters: Jolo, Siasi and Tawi-Tawi. Principal crops are cassava, coconut, yams and upland rice.

The name “Tausug” seems to have been derived from tao which means “person” or “people” and sug, meaning “current.” The Tausugs are therefore referred to as the “people of current.” The Lupa Sug (Sulu) is the traditional home of these people which forms the southwest part of the Philippines.

Lupa Sug (Sulu) is referred to as the front door of the Philippines, being the oldest prosperous commercial center in the country. Its strategic geographical location makes it a gateway to neighboring Southeast Asian countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. As such, the Sulu archipelago was the entry point of early Malay settlers and Chinese traders. Being a flourishing business trading center, the present Jolo town was in fact called Palarian or Parian which means “market.” The early Arabian traders referred to it as Sug meaning “market” or “economic center.” Today sug is the Tausug term for “current of the ocean floor.”

Jundam, Mashur Bin-Ghalib. (2006). Tunggal Hulah-Duwa Sarah: Adat and Sharee’ah Law in the Life of the Tausug. Manila: Vibal Publishing House




The salsila (genealogy) of the Sama speaks of haw hawo meaning “very far and fading out.” This term by a soundshift must have come from the Indonesian or Malaysian word jau which means “far away!” The Sinama language follows the pattern of the Malay when emphasizing or stressing a point, idea or a description. A term is doubled, as in the Malay jaui jaui, meaning “far way.” The same principle of soundshift and development of a language can be seen in the terms haw hawo and jaui jaui, which became tawi-tawi. The Sinama phoneme ta means “far.” While the Sinama term tawid is “pushing out,” it is retained in Tausug which means “to cross the sea.” Thus in the final usages, the term tawi-tawi became officially “Tawi-Tawi” which is now the name of the province.

The archipelago of Tawi-Tawi is made up of 307 islands. The largest is the mainland called Tawi-Tawi, a name that is kept in the minds of the present inhabitants as something sacred and mysterious. The spot called Tawi-Tawi is a small hill located on the eastern plain of Bud Tua, north of Dungon., while the principal islands are as follows: the mainland, Taballongan, Balingoan, and Sanga-Sanga. The chain of islands in the eastern side include Kinapusan, Bintaluan, Tabawan , Ubian Timbang and others. On the north is Pababag. Up to the western side of the mainland is the Kabangkawan group of islands. Just on the northern tip of the mainland are the islands belonging to the Municipality of Tandubas and other sub-islands. Farther at the west of about 120 nautical miles are Kagayan Mapun and the Turtle islands (consisting of seven islands belonging to the Philippines and five others to Malaysian Sabah).

The inhabitants of Tawi-Tawi call themselves Sama. This ethnic group derives its name from sama-sama which means “togetherness”. Their their language is Sinama.

Muhammad, Kurais II. (1979). The History of Tawi-Tawi and Its People


Islamic City of Marawi


The Maranao or “people of the lake” inhabit the province of Lanao del Sur and the City of Marawi, where they constitute ninety-nine percent of the population. The status and name of the present-day Marawi City or Islamic City of Marawi has undergone changes. First from Municipality of Dansalan to a chartered City, then from Dansalan to Marawi City and finally from Marawi City to Islamic City of Marawi.

The changes of this city’s official name from Dansalan City to Marawi City honor local tradition, for Marawi has been the name given, known and customarily used by the Maranaws.

Etymologically, the name Marawi in the Basa Iranun (i.e., Ilanun or Maranaw language) means “to be inclined to.” Since Marawi is the central market place of the Lake Lanao region, people around the lake have always been inclined toward the direction of Marawi.

The Islamic City of Marawi is the center of Islamic schools and colleges of Region XII and the seat of the Tableegh and Sabaab religious movements. It is also the only Muslim City in the Philippines, which has preserved not only the Maranaw traditions but also the culture of the Middle East.  

Talib, Abdulhamid Benito. (1985). Marawi City to Islamic City of Marawi: An Attitudinal Study of the City’s Residents. M.A. thesis submitted to the U.P. Institute of Islamic Studies.

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