Tawi-Tawi Province

Tawi Tawi IslandTawi-Tawi is an island province of the Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The capitals of Tawi-Tawi are Bongao and Panglima Sugala. The province is the southernmost of the country sharing sea borders with the Malaysian State of Sabah and the Indonesian North Kalimantan province. To the northeast lies the province of Sulu and to the west is Sabah in Malaysia. Tawi-Tawi also covers some islands in the Sulu Sea to the northwest, the Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island and the Turtle Islands, just 20 kilometers away from Sabah.

Tawi Tawi island lies between the Celebes Sea (southeast) and the Sulu Sea (northwest). Tawi Tawi’s westernmost tip is a scant 40 miles (64 km) east of Borneo. Of volcanic origin, Tawi Tawi Island is about 34 miles (55 km) long and from 6 to 14 miles (10 to 23 km) wide and is hilly and heavily wooded. The inhabitants are primarily Sama, a Muslim people speaking Sama-Bajau languages of the Austronesian family. The largest settlement on the island is Bato Bato. The climate is warm and moist, and coconut, tobacco, sugarcane, and kapok are the major commercial crops grown in the island’s fertile volcanic soils. Rice, corn (maize), citrus fruits, root crops, vegetables, cacao, and coffee are also grown. Shells for mother-of-pearl, Capiz shells, and reptile skins are collected. Fishing is of great importance, and the inhabitants are accomplished boatbuilders. Pop. (2007) 450,346, including nearby Sibutu Island and distant Mapun (Cagayan Sulu) Island and Turtle Islands, as well as other smaller islands in Tawi-Tawi Province.

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