The Province of Basilan (Lalawigan ng Basilan in Filipino/Tagalog; Provincia de Basilan in Spanish/Chavacano) is an island province of the Philippines within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula. Its capital, Isabela City, is administered as part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region.
Basilan is one province in a setting that reflects the true description of an island paradise. Blessed with natural bounties since its early years of existence, it has been called by merchants and travelers as an island of hope. The province, bestowed with different cultures and traditions and rich in aquatic resources, was once considered the trading center of Mindanao in the early days.
Basilan has a variety of natural tourist spots that dot the island's pristine beaches and cool inland resorts, it has a peninsula point called punta matangal in tuburan that offers a haven for surfurs very similar to that of the northshore of Hawaii. Basilan has gradually evolved into a charming, even surprisingly hospitable place were we could relax and enjoy a laid back, stress-free vacation.
The kilometer-wide channel that opens to the port of Isabela, provincial capital, is lined on both sides by mangroves and Samal houses on stilts. Across is Malamawi Island, the gateway to Basilan, where can be found the Badjao, Samal-Luaans-Banguingui, and Muslim cemeteries. The island boasts of the only lake in the province with wild ducks and is home to the Panigayan fishing village, an ideal spearfishing destination.
Basilan is home to three main ethnic groups, the indigenous Yakans, and the later-arriving Tausugs and Chavacanos. The Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim, while the Chavacanos are mainly Christian. There are also a number of smaller groups. Although the official language is Filipino and English, the lingua franca is Chavacano, but other languages are well represented, with Yakan being the most widespread.
Basilan, although classified as a 4th-Class Province in terms of gross provincial income, has one of the lowest incidence of poverty in the Philippines (26.19% of the general population), ranked 20 among the Philippines' 80 Provinces (in comparison, Maguindanao which is ranked last at no. 80 has a poverty incidence of 44.24%). More importantly, the gap between Basilan's rich and poor residents are among the narrowest in the country (ranked 3rd nationwide), pointing to one of the most equitable distributions of wealth anywhere in the country (GINI Coefficient 0.2826, which is slightly better than the Provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Cavite, Batanes and Batangas).