Isabela is the second largest province of the Philippines next to Palawan. It is located in the Cagayan Valley Region in Luzon. Its capital is Ilagan and borders, clockwise from the south, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Kalinga, and Cagayan. This primarily agricultural province is the rice and corn granary of Luzon.The province is divided into three physiographic areas. The eastern area, straddled by the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, is rugged and thickly forested. A substantial portion is uncharted. These unexplored hinterlands are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, while others are government reservations. The western area is a sprawling fertile valley hemmed by the Central Cordillera. It is criss-crossed by the mighty Cagayan River, Siffu river, and Magat River. Its mountains rise to a peak of about 8,000 feet, and are home to one of the world’s largest remaining low-altitude rainforests, with numerous unknown endemic species of flora and fauna and exceptional biological diversity. The area is popularly known as the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. Isabela has 600,000 hectares of Cagayan Valley‘s 900,000 hectares of forest cover.
Isabela is a first class in terms of income classification. Agriculture, mainly rice with a relatively large corn crop, is the biggest industry in Isabela. Farming is highly mechanized as most of the agricultural lands are irrigated. With the presence of the Isabela State University, joint ventures, other foreign assisted projects, and the Magat Dam, agriculture has a high level of productivity. It is also the hub of trade, commerce, and other economic activities due to its central location in the region. The wood industry used to be a top earner for the province but due to the logging ban imposed in the Cagayan Valley Region, activities in this industry have considerably declined. However, furniture making using narra and other indigenous forest materials continues.
Some potential investments are in fisheries and tourism. Isabela has a fertile fishing ground on the Pacific Coast. The reservoir of the Magat Dam is utilized for fish cage operations, such as tilapia production for domestic markets. Tourism is relatively a new industry being developed in the province. Support services and accommodation facilities are likewise being developed. Tourism focuses mainly in and around Santiago City and can be noted by the presence of the only McDonalds in the province.