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Capital: Jolo

No. of towns: 16

Land area: 1,600.4 sq. km.

Location. The Sulu Archipelago is the Southernmost part of the Philippines. It is between the Sulu Sea on the north and the Celebes Sea on the South.

Brief history. Inhabiting the shores and coast of the many islands which constitute the Sulu Archipelago, the people of this province naturally take to a seafaring life. Long before Miguel Lopez de Legaspi colonized Cebu, foreign traders were already familiar with Sulu waters. When Manila and Cebu were yet small settlements, Jolo was already a city, the most important in the Philippines, with trade flourishing between its inhabitants and Chinese merchants.

The early existence of the island had been influenced by the introduction of Islam by three men, namely: Makdum, Raja Baginda and Abu Bakr toward the end of the fourteenth century.

The Sultanate of Sulu began to rise as a system of government in those days, with Raja Baginda as its first supreme ruler. He was succeeded by Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr firmly established Mohammedanism and effected governmental reforms.

The presense of foreign forces in Sulu brought about several conflicts that caused the fall of the first organized state in early Philippines. For 300 years, beginning from the 16th century, the Suluans had fought all alien forces who had attempted to dominate the people and change their way of life.

The first armed conflict staged by the Suluans were againt the Spaniards, as early as 1578, when Captain Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa conducted an expedition against the Muslims. The "Moros", as they were refferred to by the Spaniards, retaliated by pillaging the coastal towns in Visayas and Luzon under the Spanish control.

This Muslim hostility drove the Spanish governmental to send at least five expeditions to Jolo for punitive purposes. The fourth expedition led by Governor-General Corcuera in 1638, resulted in the first Spanish occupation of Jolo. The fighting, which lasted for three and a half months, forced the Suluans to flee their capital. Corcurera occupied the town, reconstructed its forts and left there a garrison. In 1646, however this garrison was recalled to Manila and Sulu was abandoned.

During the nineteenth century, the Spanish made a second occupation of Sulu. Spain evacuated Sulu in May 1899 and turned the local government over to the Suluans. Foreign domination continued until World War II when the Japanese occupied the Philippines. These little footnotes of history have made Sulu what it is.

Today, with more Suluans being educated from day to day, the feeling of fierce resistance to anything foreign has given way to an attitude of understanding and compromise, resulting in a mix of the old and new, a flurry of the east and west. This peaceful coexistence has been immortalized in the province´s official emblem where the Cross of Christianity harmoniously blends with the crescent and star symbolizing Islam.

Geography. The province consist of over 400 scattered and almost isolated islands, stretching from the tip of Zamboanga Southwestward towards Borneo. It forms one of the three connections of the Philippines with Borneo which prove the geologic theory that the Philippines belongs to the same geographic region as Borneo, Sumatra and Java and therefore, to Asia and not to Oceanic.

Major industries

Far-Flung Sulu. Is surprisingly a first-class province by income classification. While there is an absence of mineral deposits, Sulu nevertheless abounds in timber resources. And lying outside the typhoon belt, it is blessed with a year-round bounty of harvests both from the land and the sea.

Due to the character of soil and climate, the province of Sulu grows greater variety of products than any other part of the country. In addition to all the crops of the islands, which are abaca, coconut and fruits like oranges, lanzones and jacks, other fruits that do not grow in the northern islands are harvested, such as the mangosteen and durian.

Fishing is the most important industry. Trepang and pearls are extensively gathered. Sea turtles and fish of all kinds are caught. Unfortunately, most of the fishing industry has gone into the hands of the Chinese and Japanese.

During a break from their fishing activity, the people of Sulu engage in boat-building and mat weaving. The people have learned how to produce beautiful trays and combs out of the back of the turtles.

Technology has taught them to preserve the durian and mangosteen.

Sulu has other existing industries, such as boat building, mat weaving, coffee processing, and fruit preservation (durian and mangosteen).

Climate. Sulu is outside of the typhoon belt. Its climate is warm, humidity is generally moist, but precipitation is constant throughout the year. February is considered the coldest month, while May to August are the hottest with a mean relative humidity of 86%, one of the hottest in the country, January to April is considered the dry period with a monthly average of 7 to 9 inches of rainfall. The mean annual temperature is 26 degrees centigrade and the maximum is 27 degrees centigrade.

Language / Dialect. The principal dialect of the natives of Jolo is "Tausog". The rest speak Samal, Cebuano, Chavacano, Tagalog, and other dialects. English is also widely spoken.

Points of interest


Walled City. Jolo´s walled city is the smallest in the world. Here is located the historic brick walls of Jolo that now crumble due to age, neglect and decay. These are evidence of Jolo´s historic and continuous strife. At the entrance of the city are four gates which were used are watch towers and several mounds which were burial grounds of Spanish and American soldiers who died in the hands of the Muslim warriors.

Provincial Capitol. Constructed during the administration of Governor Murphy Sangkula. This is also condidered as one of Jolo´s tourist attractions because of its moorish-inspired architectural design.

Port Asturias. Located .85 km away from the center town of Jolo

American Calvary Monument. So far the only existing museum in Sulu. Located approximately more than 1 km. from the town of Jolo.


Maubo Beach. It boasts of about 1 km of white sand, which is most frequently by the residents because of its accessibility.

Tandu Beach. Found just 2 kms. away from the town proper. It is also a white sand beach.

Tadjung Beach. Another white sandy beach just 3 kms. away from the town proper.


Jolo Parish Church

Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel

Jolo Evangelical Church

Tulay Mosque and other existing mosques situated in each barangay.


Jolo Town Fiesta

Hariraya Puasa. A religious Muslim holiday.

Hariraya Hadji. A religious Muslim holiday.

Amon Jaded. A religious Muslim holiday.

Special interest

Pearl Farm at Marungas Island. It can be reached in a 30-minute pumpboat ride from the mainland of Jolo. The Sulu Sea is dotted with coral reefs and can provide probably some of the world´s best dive spots for those seeking the ultimate in underwater beauty and adventure.

Tubbataja Reef is the best known site in the Sulu Sea, drawing divers from all over the world

Philippine dive books and diving expert claim that diving here is a wonderful experience due to the rich marine life that abounds in the reef. Snappers, sweetlips, groupers, angelfish and morays can be found amid huge fan corals and sponges..

Large schools of barracudas, jacks, rainbow runners and surgeons pass by while tunas race about.

Most divers use Puerto Princessa in Palawan as their jump-off point. The most experienced dive cruise vessels are docked here.

How to get there. Jolo is the gateway to the Sulu islands. Three commercial flights are available daily from Zamboanga City.