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Zamboanga del Sur
Province of Zamboanga del Sur
(from top: left to right) Santa Cruz Island, Pagadian City, and Bayog town.
Flag of Zamboanga del Sur
Official seal of Zamboanga del Sur
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 7°50′N 123°15′E / 7.83°N 123.25°E / 7.83; 123.25
RegionZamboanga Peninsula
  • June 6, 1952 (Divide)
  • September 17, 1952 (Foundation Day)
 • GovernorVictor Yu (PDPLBN)
 • Vice GovernorRoseller Ariosa (PDPLBN)
 • LegislatureZamboanga del Sur Provincial Board
 • Total4,499.46 km2 (1,737.25 sq mi)
 • Rank25th out of 81
 (excluding Zamboanga City)
Highest elevation1,532 m (5,026 ft)
 (2020 census)[2]
 • Total1,050,668
 • Rank26th out of 81
 • Density230/km2 (600/sq mi)
  • Rank42nd out of 81
 (excluding Zamboanga City)
 • Independent cities
 • Component cities
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays
  • 681
  • 779 (including Zamboanga City)
 • Districts
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)62
ISO 3166 codePH-ZAS
Spoken languages
Income classification1st class

Zamboanga del Sur (Cebuano: Habagatang Zamboanga; Subanen: S'helatan Sembwangan/Sembwangan dapit Shelatan; Maguindanaon: Salatan Sambuangan, Jawi: سلاتن سامبواڠن; Filipino: Katimugang Zamboanga), officially the Province of Zamboanga del Sur, is a province in the Philippines located in the Zamboanga Peninsula region in Mindanao. Its capital is the city of Pagadian. Statistically grouped with Zamboanga del Sur is the highly urbanized City of Zamboanga, which is geographically separated and a chartered city and governed independently from the province.

The province borders Zamboanga del Norte to the north, Zamboanga Sibugay to the west, Misamis Occidental to the northeast, and Lanao del Norte to the east. To the south is the Moro Gulf.


The name of Zamboanga is the Hispanicized spelling of the Sinama term for "mooring place" - samboangan (also spelled sambuangan; and in Subanen, sembwangan), from the root word samboang ("mooring pole"). "Samboangan" was the original name of Zamboanga City, from where the name of the peninsula is derived from.[3] "Samboangan" is well-attested in Spanish,[4] British,[5][6] French,[7][8] German,[9] and American[10] historical records from as far back as the 17th century.[4]

This is commonly contested by folk etymologies which instead attribute the name of Zamboanga to the Indonesian word jambangan (claimed to mean "place of flowers", but actually means "pot" or "bowl"), usually with claims that all ethnic groups in Zamboanga were "Malays". However, this name has never been attested in any historical records prior to the 1960s.[11]


Further information: Zamboanga (province) and Moro Province

The historical province of Zamboanga in 1918


Early history

The original inhabitants of the Zamboanga Peninsula were the Maguindanaon and Subanen, who settled along the riverbanks in inland areas; and the various Sama-Bajau and Yakan ethnic groups who settled in coastal areas. Tausūg settlers from northeastern Mindanao also migrated to the region in the 13th century.[12][13][14]

The region was additionally settled by migrants (mostly from the Visayas islands) after World War II.[15] Together with the original settlers, these pioneers helped develop Zamboanga del Sur into the abundant and culturally diverse province that it is.

American invasion era

Historically, Zamboanga was the capital of the Moro Province in western Mindanao, which comprised five districts: Cotabato, Davao, Sulu, Lanao, and Zamboanga. In 1940, these districts became individual provinces. Zamboanga City became the capital of Zamboanga province.

Philippine independence

Soon after World War II, the provincial capital was transferred to Dipolog. Molave was created as the provincial capital in 1948.


On June 6, 1952, through Republic Act No. 711, Zamboanga del Sur was carved out from the former Zamboanga province that encompassed the entire peninsula in southwestern Mindanao.[16] As the 52nd province of the Philippines, it originally consisted of 11 towns with the City of Zamboanga and the Island of Basilan, which were later expanded into 42 municipalities with the City of Pagadian as the capital.

This happened in the midst of the postwar period, a time when Mindanao was peaceful and increasingly progressive. Ethnic tensions were minimal, and there was essentially no presence of secessionists groups in Mindanao.[17] Tensions in Mindanao mostly began to rise only as the 1970s approached, as a result of social and economic tensions which affected the whole country.[18][19][20]

The Marcos era

Main articles: Martial law under Ferdinand Marcos, Ilaga, Jabidah massacre, and Moro conflict

The late 1960s in Mindanao saw a rise in land dispute conflicts arising from the influx of settlers from Luzon and Visayas,[21][22] and from the Marcos administration’s encouragement of militia groups such as the Ilaga.[18][19] News of the 1968 Jabidah massacre ignited a furor in the Moro community, and ethnic tensions encouraged with the formation of secessionist movements,[23] starting from the largely political Muslim Independence Movement and Bangsamoro Liberation Organization, and eventually the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).[19] Additionally, an economic crisis in late 1969, violent crackdowns on student protests in 1970, and 1971, and eventually the declaration of Martial Law all led to the radicalization of many students.[20] Many of them left schools in Manila and joined New People's Army units in their home provinces, bringing the New People's Army rebellion to Mindanao for the first time.[17]

The September 1972 declaration of Martial Law began a 14-year period historically remembered for its human rights abuses, [24][25] often involving the warrantless detention, murder, and physical, sexual, or mental torture of political opponents, student activists, journalists, religious workers, farmers, and others who fought against the Marcos dictatorship.[26] In Zamboanga del Sur, these were often attributed to military-endorsed Militias, which included the Ilaga and a number of armed cult groups, which were used to enhance the military's numbers as it fought various resisntance movements.[27][28]

The year 1982 was a particularly bloody year for Zamboanga del Sur under the Marcos dictatorship, as two massacres happened in the province that year. On February 12, 1982, members of the Ilaga killed 12 persons in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur, allegedly to avenge the death of their leader, who they believed had been killed by the NPA.[29] And on May 25, 1982, three people were killed and eight people were injured when the administration's airplanes dropped bombs on Barangay Dimalinao of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, allegedly as reprisal for the killing of 23 soldiers by supposed rebels two days earlier. Days later, two more men from the community were picked up and killed, and a few months later, the residence of Bayog's Jesuit parish priest was strafed after he had written letters decrying the torture and harassment of the indigenous Subanon people from his parish, whom government had tagged as communist supporters.[30]


Separation of Zamboanga Sibugay

Political developments in February 2001 saw another major change in the territorial jurisdiction of Zamboanga del Sur. Its inhabitants voted to create a new province out of the third congressional district, named Zamboanga Sibugay.[31]


Zamboanga del Sur covers a total area of 4,499.46 square kilometres (1,737.25 sq mi)[32] occupying the southern section of the Zamboanga peninsula in western Mindanao. It is located at longitude 122° 30"" and latitude 7° 15"" north. When Zamboanga City is included for statistical purposes, the province's land area is 591,416 hectares (5,914.16 km2).[32] The province is bordered on the north by Zamboanga del Norte, west by Zamboanga Sibugay, northeast by Misamis Occidental, east by Lanao del Norte, southeast by Illana Bay, and south by the Moro Gulf.


Dao Dao islands within the Yllana Bay

Stretching northward from Sibugay in the southwest and running along the northern boundary to Salug Valley in the east is the province’s mountainous countryside. The coastal plains extend regularly from south to west then spread into wide flat lands when reaching the coastal plains of the Baganian peninsula in the southeast.

The longest river in Region IX, the Sibugay River gets its water from the mountains of Zamboanga del Sur most specifically in Bayog and Lakewood, from where it flows into Sibuguey Bay which is now part of Zamboanga Sibugay. Other notable rivers are the Kumalarang River, the Dinas River with its headwaters in the Mount Timolan Protected Landscape, and Salug River in Molave.


The province has a relatively high mean annual rainfall: 1,599 to 3,500 millimetres (63.0 to 137.8 in). Temperature is relatively warm and constant throughout the year: 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F).

Climate data for Zamboanga del Sur
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 30.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 21.8
Average rainy days 15 10 8 7 10 17 16 16 14 16 17 16 162
Source: Storm247 [33]

Administrative divisions

Zamboanga del Sur comprises 26 municipalities, 1 component city and 1 highly urbanized city organized into two congressional districts and further subdivided into 681 barangays.

Traditionally grouped with Zamboanga del Sur is the highly urbanized city of Zamboanga, which is administratively independent from the province.


Population census of Zamboanga del Sur
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 49,337—    
1918 15,139−7.57%
1939 69,798+7.55%
1948 121,590+6.36%
1960 345,118+9.08%
1970 454,283+2.78%
1975 484,913+1.32%
1980 561,361+2.97%
1990 695,741+2.17%
1995 766,918+1.84%
2000 836,217+1.87%
2007 914,278+1.24%
2010 959,685+1.78%
2015 1,010,674+0.99%
2020 1,050,668+0.77%
(excluding Zamboanga City)
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[34][35][35]

The population of Zamboanga del Sur in the 2020 census was 1,050,668 people,[2] with a density of 230 inhabitants per square kilometre or 600 inhabitants per square mile. When Zamboanga City is included for statistical purposes, the province's population is 2,027,902 people, with a density of 317/km2 (820/sq mi).


Most of the inhabitants in Zamboanga del Sur are Roman Catholics[citation needed]. Other Christian groups are Baptists, Methodists, Aglipayans, Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist and other Evangelical Christians. There is a large Muslim minority.[citation needed]


The most commonly spoken first language in the province is Cebuano, while Chavacano is the majority language in and around Zamboanga City. Filipino and English are also widely used and understood as the national and official language (Filipino) and co-official language (English) of the Philippines, with the former used as a lingua franca for and between various non-local ethnic groups or recent migrants and their families. Minority languages include Maguindanaon, Subanen, Tausug, Maranao, and Iranun.


Zamboanga City, highly urbanized city and the commercial hub.
Pagadian City, the component city.

The economy is predominantly agricultural. Products include coco oil, livestock feed milling, rice/corn milling, including the processing of fruits, gifts and housewares made from indigenous materials like handmade paper, roots, rattan, buri, and bamboo; wood-based manufacture of furniture and furniture components from wood, rattan, and bamboo; marine and aquaculture including support services; construction services and manufacture of marble, concrete, and wooden construction materials. There are also mining areas in the province, such as those found in the municipality of Bayog managed by TVI, a Canadian-based mining firm which concentrates on gold mining, and the Cebu Ore Mining which is handling the Ore-Copper-Steel mines. There are also small-scale mines in the municipality of Dumingag.



Vice Governor:


Board Members:


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Archived from the original on May 18, 2001. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Census of Population (2020). "Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  3. ^ Rodney C. Jubilado; Hanafi Hussin & Maria Khristina Manueli (2011). "The Sama-Bajaus of Sulu-Sulawesi Seas: perspectives from linguistics and culture" (PDF). JATI - Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 15 (1): 83–95.
  4. ^ a b Francisco Combes (1667). Historia de las islas de Mindanao, Iolo y sus Adyacentes. Progresos de la Religion y Armas Catolicas. Pablo del Val.
  5. ^ Challenger Expedition 1872-1876 (1895). Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger During the Years 1873-76 Under the Command of Captain George S. Nares ... and the Late Captain Frank Tourle Thomson, R.N. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 823–828.((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ George Newenham Wright (1837). A New and Comprehensive Gazetteer, Volume 4. T. Kelly. p. 459.
  7. ^ Antoine-François Prévost (1757). Histoire générale des voyages ou Nouvelle collection de toutes les relations de voyages par mer et par terre, qui ont été publiées jusqu'à présent dans les differentes langues de toutes les nations connues. De Hondt. p. 37.
  8. ^ Pierre Joseph André Roubaud (1770). Histoire générale de l'Asie, de l'Afrique et de l'Amérique. Des Ventes de la Doué. p. 499–500. Samboangan.
  9. ^ John Meares (1791). Des Kapitians John Meares und des Kapitains William Douglas Reisen nach der Nordwest-Küste von Amerika, in den Jahren 1786 bis 1789. Voß. p. 240.
  10. ^ Charles Pickering (1848). "The Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution". United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. Under the Command of Charles Wilkes, USN. Volume IX (PDF). C. Sherman. p. 125.
  11. ^ Enriquez, A.R. "Jambangan: the "Garden of Flowers" never was!". Antoniofermin's Name. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  12. ^ Alfred Kemp Pallasen (1985). Culture Contact and Language Convergence (PDF). LSP Special Monograph Issue 24. Linguistic Society of the Philippines.
  13. ^ Tom Gunnar Hoogervorst (2012). "Ethnicity and aquatic lifestyles: exploring Southeast Asia's past and present seascapes" (PDF). Water History. 4 (3): 245–265. doi:10.1007/s12685-012-0060-0. S2CID 53668253.
  14. ^ Rodney C. Jubilado (2010). "On cultural fluidity: The Sama-Bajau of the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas". Kunapipi. 32 (1): 89–101.
  15. ^ Wernstedt, Frederick L.; Simkins, Paul D. (1965). "Migrations and the Settlement of Mindanao". The Journal of Asian Studies. 25 (1): 83–103. doi:10.2307/2051042. JSTOR 2051042. S2CID 161928753.
  16. ^ "Republic Act No. 711 - An Act to Create the Provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  17. ^ a b Miclat, Gus (2002). "Our lives were never the same again". In Arguillas, Carolyn O. (ed.). Turning rage into courage : Mindanao under martial law. MindaNews Publications, Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center. OCLC 644320116.
  18. ^ a b The Bangsamoro Struggle for Self-Determintation: A Case Study
  19. ^ a b c Colin Mackerras; Foundation Professor in the School of Asian and International Studies Colin Mackerras (2 September 2003). Ethnicity in Asia. Routledge. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-1-134-51517-2.
  20. ^ a b Rodis, Rodel (2015-01-30). "Remembering the First Quarter Storm". Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  21. ^ See "History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos" By Luis H. Francia|[1] Link to page in the referenced book
  22. ^ For an in-depth survey of indigenous peoples and forced land seizures in the Philippines, see [2] Cultural Survival Quarterly.
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  27. ^ Rachman, Arpan (2 December 2014). "Private Armed Militias Worsen Impunity". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  28. ^ The Philippines: Violations of the Laws of War by Both Sides. Human Rights Watch. 1990. p. 41. ISBN 0929692527. Civilian Home Defense Forces.
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  30. ^ Pumipiglas: Political Detention and Military Atrocities in the Philippines, 1981-1982. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. 1986.
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  39. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. 27 August 2016.
  40. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. 27 August 2016.
  41. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. 27 August 2016.
  42. ^ "Updated Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population with Measures of Precision, by Region and Province: 2015 and 2018". Philippine Statistics Authority. 4 June 2020.