Eastern Visayas

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Map of the Eastern Visayas district

Eastern Visayas (German: Eastern Visayas ; Tagalog : Silangang Kabisayaan ) or Region VIII is a region of the Philippines .

The region includes the eastern islands of the Visayas group and consists of six provinces : Biliran , Eastern Samar , Leyte , Northern Samar , Samar and Southern Leyte .

The administrative center is located in Tacloban City , one of four cities on the island of Leyte. In contrast, Calbayog City , one of the two cities in the province of Samar, is one of the oldest cities in the entire island state.


The Eastern Visayas region includes the two large islands of Samar and Leyte , the island province of Biliran and several other smaller islands in the Camotes Sea , the Philippine Sea , the Strait of Surigao and the Gulf of Leyte . In the northwest, the Strait of San Bernardino separates the county from the island of Luzon , while the Strait of Surigao separates Leyte Island from the northeastern part of Mindanao . The San Juanico Strait runs between the two islands of Leyte and Samar. In the west the region is bounded by the Camotes Sea and the Visayas Sea , and in the east the Pacific Ocean extends.

The topology of the two large islands is absolutely different. Inland Leyte is criss-crossed by mountain ranges and some extensive plains, while Samar is interspersed with low mountain ranges and valleys.

The total area of ​​the region is 21,431.6 km². 52% is classified as forest area and 48% as usable area.

Demographics, language and religion


A total of 4,440,150 people live in the region (as of 2015). The population average is 168.5 inhabitants per km². The province of Leyte has the highest population with 1,643,460, which makes up about 48% of the region. The province of Samar follows with 589,373 people ahead of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Southern Leyte.

Region VIII is mainly populated by the Waray-Waray ethnic group, the culturally and linguistically fourth largest ethnic group in the Philippines. The western part of Leyte, especially the area around Ormoc City , is the home of the Cebuanos ethnic group, who emigrated from the nearby island of Cebu in earlier times .

In the province of Biliran, ethnicities are divided. The majority of the inhabitants of the eastern part belong to the Waray family, while the rest of the culture is from the Cebuanos.


The most widely spoken language in Leyte and Samar is Lineyte-Samarnon Visayan , better known as Wáray-Wáray . The native population uses this form of language on almost the entire island of Samar and in about 25% of the area of ​​northern Leyte, although various variations have developed in the individual localities. The languages ​​Boholano and Cebuano occur primarily in some areas in the northwest and northeast Leyte and in almost all of the western and southern parts of Southern Leyte . On some other islands, including Samar, immigrants from Cebu and Bohol have settled in the past . In Northern Samar they have settled mainly in the island community of San Vicente , in parts of San Antonio and in Almagro in Western Samar .

On the island of Capul , located on the northern tip of Samar, people speak the Abaknon dialect , which is assigned to the Sama language . According to historical accounts, the ancestors of this ethnic group came from the Balabac , a group of islands in southern Palawan . They left their homeland and traveled across the sea with their leader Abak to escape the dominance of the Moros , who had extended their raids from Mindanao to the islands of the Visayas.


The absolute majority of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. In second place are the followers of the Aglipayan and the evangelists . Other religious communities represented in the region include the Iglesia ni Cristo , Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists .

Agriculture and fishing are the livelihoods of many residents. Since their culture is often shaped by superstition, they trust ritual practices throughout the entire growing season, from sowing to harvest, which favor the nature spirits and their ancestors and give them a fruitful one Should bring harvest. In the same way, the fishing people ask for the assistance of the water spirits so that they accompany them safely and give them a successful catch.


Eastern Visayas is a primarily agricultural region that lives from the cultivation of rice , corn , coconut , sugar cane and bananas . The most important export product, on the other hand, is the abaca fiber , which is sold abroad as a preliminary or finished product.

The main sources of income are the manufacture of various products, wholesale and retail trade and services. Mining, agriculture, fishing and tourism contribute significantly to the economic development of this region. Resident companies include mining companies, fertilizer factories, sugar plants, rice and wheat mills and other food processing companies. Furthermore, the production of coconut oil, alcohol distillation, beverage production and the processing of forest products are significant economic factors in Eastern Visayas. There are also a number of handicraft businesses in this region, which deal with the production of hats, baskets, weaving products, metal processing, the production of ceramics, as well as the production of decorative products from wood, shells or bamboo .

The women of Basey on Samar weave a multitude of complexly designed mats from reed grass, which are known as tikog . In addition, they make an ornate type of mats that are adorned with flowers, birds, fish and mermaids or with scenes from local legends and legends. Other traditional handicrafts of the region are made in the potteries of Tanauan , Leyte and Biliran, as well as by the basket makers of Calbiga , Samar and Carigara in Leyte.

The extensive coastline but also the water reservoirs and rivers inland offer all kinds of salt and fresh water fish and other marine products. The region is one of the most important export regions for fish and seafood in the entire country.

Mineral resources are also extracted here. The most important minerals are chromite , nickel , clay minerals , coal , limestone , pyrite , sand and gravel . In addition, the provinces of Eastern Visayas have abundant geothermal energy sources and large resources of fresh water, which benefits the development of medium and heavy industries in this area.

Administrative division

Eastern Visayas is politically divided into 6 provinces . A total of 6 cities and 137 independently administered municipalities belong to the region .

These are in turn divided into a total of 4,390 barangays (districts). The region consists of a total of 12 congress districts .

Province / City Headquarters Population
( 2007 )
( km² )
(per km²)
Biliran Naval 150.031 555.4 270
Eastern Samar Borongan City 405.114 4,339.6 93.4
Leyte Tacloban City 1,722,036 5,712.8 301.4
Northern Samar Catarman 549.759 3,498.0 157
Samar Catbalogan City 695.149 5,591.0 115
Southern Leyte Maasin City 390,847 1,734.8 225


city province Population
( km² )
per km²
Borongan City Eastern Samar 59,354 562.9 105.4
Baybay City Leyte 102.526 460.5 222.6
Calbayog City Samar 163,657 903 181
Catbalogan City Samar 92,454 274.22 337
Maasin City Southern Leyte 71.163 211.7 336
Ormoc City ¹ Leyte 177,524 490.5 362
Tacloban City Leyte 217.199 1009 215

¹ Ormoc City is a city independent of the province.


Based on geological findings, it is believed that the islands of Mindoro , Luzon and Mindanao were connected to Samar , Leyte and Bohol during the Ice Age , the Pleistocene (2 million years - 8000 years BC), and together they formed a single large island.

Excavations in the Sohoton Caves in Basey, Samar, revealed stone tools dating back to 8500 BC. BC could be dated back. Other excavations along the Basey River revealed other stone tools that were used well into the 13th century.

Two of the region's smaller islands have a special historical significance in Filipino history: Homonhon Island , which belongs to Eastern Samar , was Ferdinand Magellan's first landing site in the Philippines in 1521 after he had crossed the Pacific with his fleet . He celebrated the first Holy Mass on the archipelago in Limasawa , an island community in the south of today's Southern Leyte province .

The next expedition sent by Spain in 1565 was commanded by Ruy López de Villalobos , who named Leyte Island "La Isla Filipina" in honor of the Spanish Crown Prince Philip II . A name that was later transferred to the entire archipelago. Leyte and Samar were ruled as a single province under the jurisdiction of Cebu at the beginning of the Spanish rule in the Philippines. From 1768 the two provinces were administered separately from one another.

The San Bernardino Strait between Samar and Leyte was at that time the access route for the Spanish galleons on their journeys to the islands of the northern archipelago. In the place Palapag on Northern Samar, a port of the royal colonial power was founded in order to be able to anchor the ships to protect them from wind and stormy seas. In 1649 shipbuilders were called to the Cavite shipyards to build new galleons and barges. In the same year there was a revolt of some recruits on Samar under the leadership of Sumuroy, which is considered to be one of the earliest revolts against the Spanish occupation.

At the beginning of the 20th century, in the middle of the Philippine-American War , the inhabitants of the village of Balangiga on Samar won a small but momentous victory when they attacked and crushed the C company of an American battalion stationed there. The retaliatory campaign of the Americans triggered by this action cost the lives of 60,000 Samarnons, including numerous civilians.

During the Second World War, Leyte and Samar were fundamental scenes in the Pacific War. On October 20, 1944 , American troops, led by General Douglas MacArthur and the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, Sergio Osmeña, went ashore. At Red Beach in Palo , Leyte, MacArthur himself stepped onto the beach and proclaimed the beginning of the liberation of the Philippine island state. In the course of the Battle of Leyte , the sea ​​and air battle in the Gulf of Leyte took place in what is now the Eastern Visayas administrative district , which is still considered to be the greatest modern sea battle. For a few weeks, the town of Tacloban was the headquarters of the Commonwealth government and thus effectively formed the capital of the free Filipino nation.


The eastern sections of the region are repeatedly hit by storms that come from the Pacific Ocean and frequent the area several times a year. Heavy rains can occur on the islands of Eastern Visayas all year round without a prolonged dry season developing.


Archipelagos in the Eastern Visayas

Islands in the Eastern Visayas


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 2015 Population Counts Summary. In: psa.gov.ph. Retrieved June 4, 2016 .

Coordinates: 11 ° 20 '  N , 125 ° 5'  E