Camarines Norte is one of the six provinces that make up the Bicol Region, and it serves as the gateway to the Bicol Region from the rest of Luzon. It is bounded by Quezon Province on the southwest and Camarines Sur on the south. Along its coastlines, the province faces Basiad Bay on the west, the Pacific Ocean on the north, and the San Miguel Bay on the east.
Camarines Norte is composed of 12 municipalities, namely: Basud, Capalonga, Daet, Jose Panganiban, Labo, Mercedes, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente, Sta.Elena, Talisay and Vinzons; 282 barangays and one congressional district spread over a land area of 2,112,5 square kilometers. It had a population of 458,840 as of May 1, 2000 with the slowest population growth rate, among the Bicol provinces, of 0.94 percent the from 1995 to 2000.
The topography of the province is generally mountainous prominently straddled by the Bacacay and Colase mountains. Coconut and abaca are its traditional agricultural crops. The province is the largest producer of pineapple (Formosa variety) in the region. It has abundant reserves of gold, iron, copper, uranium, lead and zinc. With its long coastline, a thriving fishery industry has gained importance among the seacoast towns.
The capital town of Daet boasts of being the first municipality in the entire Philippines to erect a public statue of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Considered as the gateway to Bicolandia, Daet is 350 kilometres from Manila and can be reached seven to eight hours by land travel.
Natural attractions in Camarines Norte include Kanapnap Falls, Apuao Grande island, and the beaches of Lanot, Pag-asa and Bagabas, whose white sand beach is regarded as one of the best in the nation. Historical landmarks include the first monument of Dr. Jose Rizal to be erected in the country, located in the town of Daet, and the Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, Sr. Historical Shrine at Vinzons. Churches include the Vinzons Catholic Church and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Recreational sites include the Tulay na Lupa (Land bridge) Reservoir in Labo, a recreational resort with a very natural and fresh water swimming pool.
Two principal dialects are spoken in the province; Tagalog which is spoken by about 60.0% of the whole population and Bikol which is spoken by 38.17%. The remaining 1.83% is the dialect spoken by Cebuano, Ilocano, Ibanag, Pangasinan, Waray, Maguindanao, Maranao, Binisaya, Binukid, Chinese and English.
In 1572, Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo visited Camarines Norte on his way to reduce Bicol and found thriving settlements around gold mines in Paracale and Mambulao (Jose Panganiban) as well as in Daet and Indan. The existence of gold mines in the region encouraged the Spaniards to colonize and Christianize the inhabitants. The region was placed under the jurisdiction of a province of Camarines in 1573.
In 1829, the province of Camarines was divided in the first of a series of attempts to separate Camarines Norte from Camarines Sur. The province of Camarines Norte covered the towns of Daet, Talisay, Indan, Labo, Paracale, Mambulao, Capalonga, Ragay, Lupi and Sipocot. In 1846, the towns of Sipocot, Lupi and Ragay were returned to Camarines Sur. In 1854 the two provinces were formed into the province of Ambos Camarines and were once more separated three years later. In 1893, the two provinces were again united into Ambos Camarines and they remained united until March 1919 when the American Governor General approved an act dividing Ambos Camarines into Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.