Zamboanga Peninsula
Peninsula de Zamboanga
Lawis sa Zamboanga
Vintas of Zamboanga
Vintas of Zamboanga
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 7°50′N 122°25′E / 7.83°N 122.42°E / 7.83; 122.42
Island groupMindanao
Regional centerZamboanga City (until 2004)
Pagadian (since 2004)
Largest cityZamboanga City
 • Total17,056.73 km2 (6,585.64 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,532 m (5,026 ft)
 (2020 census)[1]
 • Total3,875,576
 • Density230/km2 (590/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ISO 3166 codePH-09
Cong. districts8
GDP (2021)428 billion
$8 billion[2]
Growth rateIncrease (5.7%)[2]
HDIIncrease 0.665 (Medium)
HDI rank16th in the Philippines (2019)

Zamboanga Peninsula (Cebuano: Lawis sa Zamboanga.; Chavacano: Peninsula de Zamboanga; Filipino: Tangway ng Zamboanga) is an administrative region in the Philippines, designated as Region IX. It consists of three provinces (Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur) including four cities (Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian, Isabela) and the highly urbanized Zamboanga City. The region was previously known as Western Mindanao before the signing of Executive Order No. 36 of 2001. The city of Zamboanga was designated as the regional center until Pagadian was designated as its new regional center, although Zamboanga City remains the region's cultural, commercial, economic, and educational center.


Area Province Designation Remarks
Pagadian City Zamboanga del Sur Regional Center

Component City

Provincial Capital of Zamboanga del Sur
Zamboanga City Zamboanga del Sur (statistical purposes only) Commercial and Industrial Center

(Metropolitan Center, 2028)[3]

*Highly Urbanized City

In 2028, Zamboanga City's population is projected to hit the 1,200,000 mark which classifies the city as a Metropolitan City based on NEDA's classification.[4]
Dipolog City Zamboanga del Norte Component city Provincial Capital of Zamboanga del Norte
Ipil Zamboanga Sibugay Municipality Provincial Capital of Zamboanga Sibugay
Dapitan City Zamboanga del Norte Component city
Isabela City Basilan Component city In 2028, Isabela City's population is projected to surpass Dipolog City's population in the same timeframe.

Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Development Plan 2023–2028.[5]


Ancient era

During the ancient era, the Zamboanga peninsula was a vast territory home to various ethnic groups – the largest of which was the Subanen people. Later on, the southern coastal areas of the region were under the influence of the Javanese Majapahit Empire, although the empire never did conquer the area.

A view of Pagadian as seen in September 2010
A view of downtown Dipolog as seen in October 2019

Sultanate of Maguindanao era

In the 14th century, the Sultanate of Sulu ruled the southwestern sections of the peninsula. By the late 15th century and early 16th century, Malay missionaries further spread Islam in the southern Philippines. Sharif Kabungsuwan, a Johore-born missionary of Malay and Arab descent established the Sultanate of Maguindanao, which the entire island of Mindanao is named after. The sultanate also occupied the entire island except present-day Caraga region, stretching from the Zamboanga Peninsula to Davao Oriental, while the Sultanate of Sulu lost its territories in Zamboanga. Maguindanao's sultans provided Mindanao fierce armed resistance against the Spanish occupation, especially under the lead of Muhammad Kudarat. They soon allied themselves with the Sulu sultanate. The Muslim natives of the region were collectively known as Moros by the Spanish, meaning "Moor", though the Iberian Moors and the Philippine Muslims had little cultural connection outside of following Islam. A large chunk of the Spanish–Moro conflict, the war between the Spanish and Mindanao's Muslim natives took place in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Spanish rule

In 1569 Zamboanga was chosen as the site of the Spanish settlement and garrison on La Caldera (now called Barrio Recodo). Zamboanga was one of the main strongholds in Mindanao, supporting colonizing efforts in the south of the island and making way for Christian settlements. It also served as a military outpost, protecting the island against foreign invaders and Moro pirates and their Chinese allies. The province, named and centered on Zamboanga City was partly founded by Peruvian soldiers brought by Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera.[6]

The Zamboanga Peninsula played a central role in the Spanish–Moro conflict. It was the site of constant battling between Spanish soldiers and Moro pirate raids. While the Spanish successfully established churches in the region, they suffered heavily at the hands of Moro raiders, and had to repeatedly withdraw from the region. While the Spanish achieved a tactical victory by launching several attacks against the Sultanate of Sulu, constant fighting and attacks persisted, giving the Moros a psychological victory.

Province of Zamboanga

After the United States annexed the Spanish East Indies in 1898, the peninsula hosted a briefly independent state called the Republic of Zamboanga. It was incorporated by the Insular Government into the Moro Province, which consisted of the central and western parts of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The name and status of Moro Province were changed to the Department of Mindanao and Sulu on August 16, 1916, causing Zamboanga to become a separate province.

In 1942, the Zamboanga Peninsula along with the rest of the Philippine Islands was occupied by the Empire of Japan at the beginning of the Second World War. The Peninsula was liberated in 1945 by joint American and Philippine Commonwealth forces fighting against the Imperial Japanese Army.

On June 6, 1952, the province was partitioned into Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, while the chartered city of Zamboanga became part of Zamboanga del Sur.


Together with the Sulu Archipelago, the provinces that formerly made up Zamboanga Province were re-organised into Region IX by order of Presidential Decree No. 1 as part of the Integrated Reorganization Plan of President Ferdinand Marcos, that was signed on September 24, 1972.[7]

From 1975 to 1989, the old Region IX (Western Mindanao) was further divided into two sub-regions by Presidential Decree No. 8233 dated August 21, 1975.[8] Sub-Region IX-A consisted of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi with Jolo, Sulu, as the sub-regional center, while Sub-Region IX-B consisted of the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay, with the chartered city of Zamboanga City as the sub-regional centre.


In 2001, Zamboanga Sibugay, was created from the province of Zamboanga del Sur with Ipil as the seat of government with the virtue of Republic Act No. 8973.

In the same year, the residents of Basilan opted to join the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in a plebiscite. However, the citizens of the capital, Isabela, did not want to join so the city remained a part of this region as a result of Executive Order No. 36 last until 2014 only.

In 2004, Pagadian officially became the Regional Center for Region IX- Zamboanga Peninsula, despite opposition from Zamboanga City, the former Regional Center.

Regional center issue

In 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1555 transferred Region IX's regional center from Jolo, Sulu to Zamboanga City.[9]

Executive Order (EO) No. 429 was issued in 1990 by President Corazon Aquino which provided for the reorganization of the administrative regions in Mindanao. It declared that Western Mindanao would comprise Zamboanga City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Basilan, and the cities comprising those provinces. It also declared that Pagadian City shall serve as the new regional center.[10]

In 1996, President Fidel Ramos issued EO No. 325 which reorganized the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of EO No. 325 also declared Zamboanga City as the regional center in Western Mindanao.[11]

In 2001, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed EO No. 36 which reorganized and renamed Western Mindanao to Zamboanga Peninsula. It was silent on the issue of regional government centers.[11][12] Memorandum Circular No. 75, signed in 2004 by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, directed the transfer of regional offices from Zamboanga City to Pagadian citing EO 429 as its legal basis.[13]

A moratorium on the transfer under Memorandum Circular No. 11 was issued on December 22, 2010, citing the high economic and social costs that the employees were experiencing in maintaining two residences and in fully transferring to Pagadian. It further directed all regional offices that are already in Pagadian to continue their operations.[14]

On March 3, 2011, the Regional Development Council IX endorsed Zamboanga City as the regional center of Zamboanga Peninsula.[15][16] This endorsement remains unacted to date.

National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Arturo Valero stated that “even if Zamboanga City is not the regional center, the city will still grow” and that the city should better focus on being a commercial and industrial center.[17]

On June 30, 2020, Malacañang, under President Rodrigo Duterte, lifted Memorandum Circular No. 11 (issued by previous administration), allowing the remaining regional offices to transfer to Pagadian after almost 15 years. However, the departments of Trade and Industry, Tourism, and Labor and Employment will remain in Zamboanga City, being the region's center of commerce and industry.

On April 20, 2023, a Moratorium was imposed on the transfer of regional government offices from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City. The Dalipe Brothers have lobbied for the suspension, arguing that there is a need to reevaluate the implementation of the full transfer of the offices relative to the ongoing devolution of national government offices.

According to the Palace memorandum, the Moratorium also intends to provide an opportunity to study and re-assess the justifications for, as well as the implications of the transfer of regional offices to Pagadian City. Government agencies, it said, are enjoined to suspend the relocation of their regional offices from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City "pending the study of the political, economic, and social implications of said transfer."

"The regional offices that are already in Pagadian City shall continue to operate." The circular added. Dalipe said six regional government offices shall remain in Zamboanga City.[18]

Following the newly imposed moratorium, both Mayor Dalipe and Majority Leader Congressman Mannix Dalipe vowed to exhaust all measures to reverse the ongoing transfer and maintain Zamboanga City as the regional center of Zamboanga Peninsula.[19]


The region is located on the western part of the island of Mindanao, that lies between the Moro Gulf (part of the Celebes Sea) and the Sulu Sea. Along the shores of the peninsula are numerous bays and islands of varying sizes. The peninsula is connected to the rest of Mindanao through an isthmus situated between Panguil Bay and Pagadian Bay. The region consists of the three Zamboanga provinces and the highly urbanized independent city of Zamboanga, and the boundary between the peninsula and mainland is artificially marked by the border between the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The province of Misamis Occidental occupies the northeast corner of the geographic peninsula, but is part of the Northern Mindanao administrative region, which also includes Misamis Oriental on the Mindanao mainland, formerly both part of pre-1929 Misamis (province) along the shores of Iligan Bay.

Administrative divisions


Zamboanga Peninsula comprises 3 Provinces; 1 independent, chartered and highly urbanized city; 3 component cities; 67 municipalities and 1,904 barangays.

Province or City Capital Population (2020)[20] Area[21] Density Cities Muni. Barangay
km2 sq mi /km2 /sq mi
Zamboanga del Norte Dipolog City 17.0% 659,936 3,554.89 1,372.55 90 230 2 14 352
Zamboanga del Sur Pagadian City 27.1% 1,050,668 4,484.21 1,731.36 230 600 1 26 681
Zamboanga Occidental Liloy 10.0% 387,519 3,746.11 1,446.38 53 140 0 12 287
Zamboanga Sibugay Ipil 17.3% 669,840 3,481.28 1,344.13 180 470 0 16 389
Zamboanga City 25.2% 977,234 1,414.70 546.22 690 1,800 1 98
Isabela City 3.4% 130,379 233.73 90.24 560 1,500 1 45
Total 3,875,576 16,904.03 6,526.68 230 600 5 67 1,904
  •  †  Zamboanga City is a highly urbanized city; figures are excluded from Zamboanga del Sur.
  •  ‡  Figures include the component city of Isabela, which is under the administrative jurisdiction of the region.
Governors and vice governors
Province Image Governor Political Part Vice Governor
Rosalina Jalosjos Nacionalista/APP Julius Napigquit
Victor Yu PDP–Laban Roseller Ariosa
Dulce Ann Hofer PDP–Laban Rey Andre Olegario


Isabela is a component city and the former capital of the province of Basilan. In 2017, the seat of Basilan's government was moved to Lamitan. Isabela continues to be under the jurisdiction of Basilan for the administration of provincially devolved services and functions, but for the administration of regional services, the city is part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region while the rest of Basilan is under the authority of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Isabela was the southernmost outpost of the Spanish in the Philippines until the fall of Jolo in 1878. It hosted Catholic residents since 1637, and a Spanish Fort (destroyed in World War II) since 1848, It also was the primary naval base of the Spanish in Mindanao until 1899. Named after Queen Isabella II, the city is the southernmost predominantly Christian enclave of the Philippines, and serves as an entry point for trade and commerce of Basilan island.[citation needed]

Dapitan is also known as the "Shrine City in the Philippines" because it was the place where José Rizal, the National Hero, was exiled.[22] It is also known for the old St. James Parish and the beach resort of Dakak.

Dipolog, capital of Zamboanga del Norte, is known for their abundance of orchids, thus it is called "Orchid City of the South" or "Orchid City". They have their nature spots and historical spots, such as Dipolog Cathedral, Dipolog Boulevard, Cogon Park, Japanese Park, Plaza Magsaysay, the Sungkilaw Falls, and the 3,003 steps to Linabo Peak.

Pagadian is known as the "Little Hong Kong of the South" because of its topographical feature that is reminiscent of Hong Kong. It also has an affluent Chinese community that officially celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year.[23]

Zamboanga City is the only Independent, chartered city and highly urbanized city in the region. The city is the lone member of BIMP-EAGA in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Zamboanga City generates more than half of the economy of the region. It also has the largest airport and seaport and the city in the region with most investors.

Additionally, the region is also highlighted by its three key municipalities, namely Sindangan, Ipil, and Molave, all of which are first class municipalities in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Sur, respectively. Sindangan has been vying for cityhood status since 2019, following a rapid increase of its populace and economic dynamism in the recent preceding years.


Population census of Zamboanga Peninsula
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 98,086—    
1918 147,333+2.75%
1939 355,984+4.29%
1948 521,941+4.34%
1960 900,730+4.65%
1970 1,334,446+4.00%
1975 1,541,459+2.93%
1980 1,821,751+3.40%
1990 2,280,460+2.27%
1995 2,567,651+2.25%
2000 2,831,412+2.12%
2007 3,230,094+1.83%
2010 3,407,353+1.96%
2015 3,629,783+1.21%
2020 3,875,576+1.30%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[1][24]


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The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released the first ever report of the Provincial Product Accounts (PPA) of Zamboanga Peninsula covering the period 2018 to 2022. The release covers three provinces, namely, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay, as well as one Highly Urbanized City (HUC), City of Zamboanga, and one component city, City of Isabela. [32]

The PPA results showed that in 2022, the City of Zamboanga accounted for 32.6 percent of the total economy of Zamboanga Peninsula. This was followed by Zamboanga del Norte with a share of 26.8 percent, Zamboanga del Sur with 23.7 percent, and Zamboanga Sibugay with 14.1 percent. Meanwhile, City of Isabela recorded a 2.7 percent share.

In terms of growth rate, all economies in the region expanded in 2022, with Zamboanga Sibugay recording the fastest growth of 8.6 percent, followed by City of Zamboanga with a growth rate of 8.1 percent. Zamboanga Sibugay and City of Zamboanga recorded growths faster than the region’s economic growth of 7.5 percent. On the other hand, City of Isabela, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur posted growth rates of 7.21 percent, 7.17 percent, and 6.5 percent, respectively, which were lower than the region’s economic performance in 2022.

The region has the first export-processing zone in Mindanao. Farming and fishing are the main economic activities of the region. It also has rice and corn mills, oil processing, coffee berry processing and processing of latex from rubber. Its home industries include rattan and furniture craft, basket making, weaving and brass work. Dipolog is home to a number of Bottled Sardines Companies which are being exported abroad. Dakak Park and Beach Resort can be found in Dapitan it is one of the most visited places in the region along with Gloria's Fantasyland the first and only theme park in Vismin.

While Pagadian City is the region’s new Regional Center, Zamboanga City’s economy remains to be the most robust and fastest growing in the region. [33]


The region has vast forest resources and previously used to export logs, lumber, veneer and plywood. Mineral deposits include gold, chromite, coal, iron, lead, and manganese. Among its non-metallic reserves are coal, silica, salt, marble, silica sand, and gravel. Its fishing grounds are devoted to commercial and municipal fishing. It has also aqua farms for brackish water and freshwater fishes.

Area of Growth

The economic fulcrum of the region lies at the center of the peninsula that is the area connecting Ipil and Liloy. Along with its premiere towns of Sindangan and Molave, it has the fastest economic activity of the region. The 50-kilometer link between the north and the south would act as the main artery of economy in the region.

Shopping malls

Lists of national malls in Zamboanga Peninsula (Operating/Under-construction)

Name Location Gross floor area Opened Status Remarks
Gaisano Capital Pagadian Rizal Avenue, Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur Unknown 2008 Operating First national-scale and Gaisano mall in the region.
CityMall Tetuan Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City 15,344 m2 2015 Operating The first CityMall in the region and in Zamboanga City.
KCC Mall de Zamboanga Camins Avenue, Zamboanga City 162,000 m2 2015 Operating The first KCC mall and the current largest mall in the region.
CityMall Dipolog Sto. Filomena, Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte 12,862 m2 2018 Operating The first CityMall in Zamboanga del Norte and second in Zamboanga Peninsula. Also the first in the region fully owned by DoubleDragon with SM Savemore as its anchor tenant and has two cinemas.
Grand CityMall Guiwan MCLL Highway, Guiwan, Zamboanga City TBA 2024 Under-construction The third CityMall in the region and the second in Zamboanga City. It is set to become the biggest CityMall in the country.
SM City Mindpro La Purisima Street, Zamboanga City 59,383 m2 2020 Operating The first SM Supermall in the region, currently the 2nd largest mall in the region. It will become the 3rd largest mall in the region after SM City Zamboanga’s opening.
Gaisano Grand Ipil Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay Unknown 2023 Operating The first Gaisano Grand mall in the region, and the first national-scale mall in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Gaisano Capital Molave Molave, Zamboanga del Sur Unknown TBD On-hold The second Gaisano Capital in the region. The mall’s opening is on hold due to land disputes.
Robinsons Pagadian Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur 57,221 m2 2024 Under-construction The first Robinsons mall in the region. It will become the fourth largest mall in the region.
SM City Zamboanga Vitaliano Agan Avenue, Zamboanga City TBA 2024 Under-construction The second SM Supermall in the region and in Zamboanga City. It is set to become the 2nd largest mall in the region.
Gaisano Grand Dipolog Sto. Filomena, Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte TBA TBD Under-construction It is set to become the second Gaisano Grand mall in the region.


Roads and Bridges


  1. ^ a b Census of Population (2015). "Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Gross Regional Domestic Product". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  3. ^ Regional Development Council IX, and National Economic and Development Authority (May 23, 2023). "Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Development Plan 2023-2028" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Development Plan 2023–2028" (PDF). Regional Development Council and National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  5. ^ "Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Development Plan 2023–2028" (PDF). Regional Development Council and National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  6. ^ "SECOND BOOK OF THE SECOND PART OF THE CONQUESTS OF THE FILIPINAS ISLANDS, AND CHRONICLE OF THE RELIGIOUS OF OUR FATHER, ST. AUGUSTINE" (Zamboanga City History) "He (Governor Don Sebastían Hurtado de Corcuera) brought a great reënforcements of soldiers, many of them from Perú, as he made his voyage to Acapulco from that kingdom."
  7. ^ "P.D. No. 1 1972".
  8. ^ "P.D. No. 773".
  9. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 1555: Further Amending Presidential Decree No. 742 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 773 transferring the regional center of Region IX from Jolo to Zamboanga City". The LawPhil Project. June 11, 1978. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "E.O. No. 429". The LawPhil Project. October 12, 1990. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Palace halts regional transfer". December 27, 2010. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  12. ^ "E.O. 36". The LawPhil Project. August 12, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  13. ^ "Memorandum Circular No. 75, s. 2004". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. November 12, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  14. ^ "Memorandum Circular No. 11, s. 2010". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. December 22, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  15. ^ "RDC chooses Zamboanga City as regional center of Region 9". March 4, 2011. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "A Resolution Endorsing Zamboanga City as the location of Regional Center of Region IX" (PDF). Regional Development Council IX. March 3, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2012.[dead link]
  17. ^ "NEDA: Zamboanga City will grow sans Regional Center". August 15, 2011. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  18. ^ "Malacañang imposes a Moratorium on the transfer of regional offices in region 9". April 20, 2023.
  19. ^ "Dalipe brothers vow to reverse regional center transfer". April 20, 2023.
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  23. ^ Facts about Pagadian Archived February 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (retrieved: April 12, 2009)
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