Basilan is an island province of the Philippines in Mindanao, just off the southern coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Basilan is the biggest and northernmost among the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago. The province is subdivided into eleven municipalities and two cities. Its capital is Isabela City, which is administered as part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region. Basilan is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula. It’s the biggest and northernmost among the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago. Agriculture is the main source of economic livelihood. Basilan‘s major products include coconut (primarily copra), rubber, coffee, black pepper, and African palm oil.
Basilan, although classified as a 4th-Class Province in terms of gross provincial income, is the only Province within the ARMM which is included in the Philippines’ Top 20 Richest Provinces, having consistently showed one of the lowest poverty incidence of only 26.19% of the general population, ranked 20 among the Philippines’ 81 Provinces (in comparison, Sulu which is ranked last at no. 81 has a poverty incidence of 63.24%). More importantly, the gap between Basilan‘s rich and poor residents are among the narrowest in the country (ranked 3rd nationwide), pointing to one of the most equitable distributions of wealth anywhere in the country (GINI Coefficient 0.2826, which is slightly better than the Provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Cavite, Batanes and Batangas).
Basilan 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 at its narrowest point, separates Basilan Island from the mainland of Mindanao and the port city of Zamboanga.
The climatic condition is the same with other areas in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula. It has a “D” type of climate and rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. The annual average rainfall is 1,100 millimeters and mean annual temperature is 26.6° C. Source of rainfall is the southwest monsoon and intertropical convergence zone (mc).As part of Mindanao, Basilan is outside the typhoon belt. Prevailing winds are from the southwest with a speed of 4 knots.
Basilan is experiencing an increase in the rate of population growth. Comparative census results from 2000 and 2007, a period of only 7 years showed an actual increase of 164,857, from 331,646 (2000) to 496,503 (2007) or an increase of 49.7% in the last 7 years alone, an average increase of 7.1% annually.The population of Basilan is 27% Christian (90% of whom are Roman Catholic) and 71% Muslim (nearly all are Sunni).
Chavacano is the lingua franca of Basilan, understood and spoken by nearly 80% of the residents both Christian and Muslim. Basilan has the biggest concentration of Chavacano speakers in the Philippines, outside of Zamboanga City.
Basilan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the Philippines. At a mere 69.4%, it is comparable to literacy rates in Sulu, as opposed to the national figure of 92.6%.