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Tacloban Harbor
Tacloban Harbor
Waters Pacific Ocean
Archipelago Visayas ( Philippines )
Geographical location 10 ° 57 ′  N , 124 ° 50 ′  E Coordinates: 10 ° 57 ′  N , 124 ° 50 ′  E
Leyte (Philippines)
length 180 km
width 65 km
surface 7th 368  km²
Highest elevation Cabalían
945  m
Residents 1,950,000
265 inhabitants / km²
Location of the island of Leyte
Location of the island of Leyte

Leyte ([ ˈla͡ɪtə ], Spanish [ ˈlɛɪ̯te ]) is an island in the Philippines and geographically belongs to the centrally located Visaya group .

Leyte became known worldwide through the sea ​​and air battle in the Gulf of Leyte in World War II , which, according to most historians, was the greatest sea ​​battle in known history.


The island measures about 180 km from north to south and has a maximum width of 65 km. In the northeast, it is separated from the neighboring island of Samar by the San Juanico Strait , with the two parts of the country approaching each other up to 2 km at some points. The island province of Biliran is also located north of Leyte and is separated from the island by the Biliran Strait. In the south, the Strait of Surigao separates Leyte from the island of Mindanao , while the Gulf of Leyte extends to the east . Behind it stretches the Philippine Sea , part of the Pacific Ocean . The gulf is framed by the island of Leyte in the west, by the island province of Dinagat Islands in the southeast and by Samar in the northeast. In the southwest, behind the Canigao Channel , is the island of Bohol and in the west, on the other side of the Camotes Sea , the island of Cebu .

Leyte has a total area of ​​7,368 km².

Politically, the island is divided into two provinces : Province of Leyte and Southern Leyte . Southern Leyte, which occupies the southern part of the island, includes the island of Panaon , which is located in the Strait of Surigao. The island of Biliran in the north used to be part of the Leyte Province, but is now an independent island province.

Leyte is very mountainous and extensively forested. On the island there are two active volcanoes, the 945 meter high Cabalían and the 860 meter high Mahagnao . The most famous inland lakes of Leyte are Lake Danao and Lake Bito . Only in the northeast are there larger, agriculturally usable land areas. The coastline is heavily populated. Flat areas and river deltas are largely located on the coasts in western and southern Leyte or in isolated plateaus, of which the Leyte-Sab-a-Basin in the northeast of the island is the largest. A branching system of small rivers and streams flows through the plain near the Bay of Carigara and the Gulf of Leyte. The second largest lowland area is the Ormoc Valley, which is located on the western side of the island and there is framed by mountains.

The main cities on Leyte are Tacloban City on the east coast, Ormoc City and Baybay City on the west coast and Maasin City in the southwest. The San Juanico Bridge connects Leyte with the neighboring island of Samar . It is the longest bridge in the country and is considered an architectural gem.

A special feature of the island are the geothermal power plants near the city of Ormoc.

Demographics and language

The island has a population of 1,950,000 people. It is populated by different ethnic groups, the Visayan and the Cebuano, who mainly live in the west and south, and the Waray, who inhabit the east and north.

The language areas are distributed in the same way. While the Cebuano dialect predominates in the south and west , Wáray-Wáray is the mother tongue of the people in the east and north of the island. In addition, are English , Tagalog and Chinese also used communications options.

The majority of the population is Christian and belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. Other denominations are the Aglipayan , the Iglesia ni Cristo , the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists .


Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the Filipinos already had trade relations with China and other neighboring countries. On March 28, 1521, the Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan found a means of passage that finally led him past the island of Leyte. A little later he reached the island of Limasawa on the southern tip of the island. Here he met the local ruler Rajah Kolambu and his brother Rajah Siagu, the chief of Butu (on Mindanao ). It was here that the first friendship treaty in the form of a blood brotherhood between Magellan and Rajah Kolambu was concluded and the first Christian mass was held. Magellan then placed a cross on the top of the hill and, through this symbolic act, took possession of the entire territory of Spain .

The explorer Ruy López de Villalobos was the first European to reach the actual island area of ​​Leyte in 1543 and named the island "Las Islas Felipinas" after the Spanish heir to the throne, later King Philip II of Spain.

In 1595 the Jesuits founded their first mission on Leyte. At that time there were only 19 pueblos with a total population of 70,000 people on the island, which was converted to Christianity by the missionaries.

A royal decree, issued July 31, 1860, ordered a reorganization of the provincial government of the entire Visayas group. Leyte was then classified as a third class province and had administrative responsibility for a total of 28 pueblos and localities. The politico-military structure of government existed until the end of Spanish rule in 1898.

Gene. Douglas MacArthur and his men disembark at Palo Beach in Leyte on October 20, 1944

On a mission to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese army , General Douglas MacArthur led one of the largest naval formations of transport and warships in US history to the coast of Leyte. On October 20, 1944, forces led by McArthur and accompanied by the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines , Sergio Osmeña , and Carlos P. Romulo, landed in Palo, Leyte, to begin the liberation of the country. The landing point at which General McArthur, the traditional words "I have returned" (dt. I have returned ) proclaimed, is now one of the most important memorial of the island nation. In addition, there was the Japanese counter-offensive, which culminated in the Battle of Leyte and finally in the greatest naval battle in history, the sea ​​and air battle in the Gulf of Leyte . No fewer than 212 Allied ships encountered around 60 combat ships of the Japanese Navy, including the large battleships Yamato and Musashi .


The most important industries are the cultivation of corn , rice , sugar cane , Manila hemp and coconut palms . In the south, the planting and processing of Abacá is the most important economic factor .

Many craft businesses use the abaca fiber to produce textiles and ropes. Other handicraft industries process bamboo and wood products. In addition, tourism, as well as fishing and forestry, are the main livelihoods of the local population.


There are two climate categories on the island. The east is characterized by climate type II, which is characterized by very heavy rainfall from November to January. The western part belongs to the climatic type IV, whose rainy days can occur more or less all year round.


  • The Leyte Landing Memorial in Red Beach, Palo marks the point where the Liberation Forces entered Leyte Island. In a lagoon there is a life-size statue that Gen. McArthur depicts his men wading ashore through ankle-deep water.
  • Lake Danao, 640 meters above sea level, has the shape of a violin. The lake is located 10 km northeast of Ormoc City in Lake Danao Natural Park . It is home to numerous wild animals, including the red-eared owl and the striped owl .
  • The Sto. Nino Shrine and Folklore Museum with a flat screen depicting the legend of the first Filipino man and woman (Malakas and Maganda).
  • The San Juanico Bridge is the longest and most architecturally attractive bridge in the Philippines. It spans San Juanico Street between Leyte and Samar .
  • the Kuapnit Balinsasayaw National Park
  • The Cuatro Islas Protected Landscape / Seascape


Diving is a relatively new source of income for the island. In Südleyte around Padre Burgos / Macrohon there is the opportunity to dive with whale sharks . In the months from January to April organized trips with the diving centers on site are offered in Südleyte. Most of the reefs in Southleyte are in very good condition and the biodiversity is enormous. A special attraction is Napantao, part of the town of San Francisco in Southern Leyte, whose underwater world is ideal for both snorkeling and diving with compressed air.

See also

Web links

Wikimedia Atlas: Leyte  - geographical and historical maps
Commons : Philippines  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Philippines  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations