Basilan is geographically located between latitude 6°15' and 7°00' longitude 121°15' and 122°30'. It is one of a system of 7,107 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago. Regionally, Basilan is the biggest and northernmost island of the Sulu Archipelago between the Philippine island of Mindanao and Borneo which includes about 400 islands. The island chain is one of two partial land bridges to Borneo and is an important migration route for birds. Basilan Strait, about 17 nautical miles (31 km) at its narrowest point, separates Basilan Island from the mainland of Mindanao and the port city of Zamboanga.
The island is washed by the Basilan Strait from the North, the Sulu Sea from the Northwest and West, the Moro Gulf from the Northeast, and the Celebes Sea from the South, Southeast and East.
6.5667° N, 122.0333° E - Basilan, Coordinates
Distance between Jolo, Sulu and Basilan is 108.15 km. This distance is equal to 67.2 miles, and 58.36 nautical miles.
|Bulingan Falls in Basilan|
Basilan means "iron trail." It was once called Tagima after a pre-Hispanic datu. The island's early settlers were the Orang Dampuans, who were the ancestors of the Yakan. The legendary Sultan Kudarat maintained a stronghold in Lamitan town until the Spaniards crushed it in 1637. Jesuit missionaries arrived a few years later. The Dutch attacked Basilan in 1747 but were repulsed by the natives. The French attempted to occupy the province in 1844, but they, too, failed.
Soon thereafter, the Spaniards built a stone fort named after Queen Isabela II. When Zamboanga became a chartered city in 1936, it included Basilan. On July 1, 1948, Basilan itself became a separate city through Republic Act. No. 288. The city was converted into a province on December 27,1973 under Presidential Decree No.356.
People of Basilan
Basilan is the homeland of the Yakan, a peace-loving people known for their colorful clothes hand-woven with intricate geometric designs, as well as for their elaborate weddings and festivals. Upland, they grow rice, corn, coconuts, and rootcrops. Approximately 55 percent of the people speak Chavacano. The rest speak either the tribal dialects of Yakan, Tausug, and Samal, or Cebuano and Tagalog.