- For other uses, please see Leyte (disambiguation).
Leyte is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Tacloban City and occupies the northern three-quarters of the island of Leyte. Leyte is located west of Samar province, north of Southern Leyte and south of Biliran. To the west of Leyte across the Camotes Sea is the province of Cebu.
|Region||Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)|
|Governor||Carlos Jericho Petilla|
|Area|| 5,712.8 km²|
|Total (2000)|| 1,592,336|
The explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, first came to the island in 1543 and named it Las Islas Felipinas.
The Battle of Leyte occurred on 20 October, 1944. A successful Allied invasion of the island was the crucial element to the eventual American victory in the Philippines. Prior to the arrival of Westerners, Filipinos had robust trading activities with merchants from China and neighboring nations. On March 28, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator in the service of the Spanish crown, found the Leyte gateway. Soon after, he reached Limasawa, a 5-square-mile island at the southern tip of Leyte mainland. Here Magellan met the native ruler, Rajah Kolambu, and his brother, Rajah Siagu, chieftain of Butu (in Mindanao). In this little island, the first recorded blood compact of treaty of friendship between Magellan and Rajah Kolambu took place, the first mass was celebrated, and Magellan, after planting a cross on a hilltop, took possession of the territory in the name of Spain.
In 1595, the Jesuits established the first mission in Leyte. At this time, there were only 19 pueblos with 70,000 people whom the missionaries converted to Christianity, easing the settlement of the province by Spanish conquistadors. The Jesuit mission from the Philippines in 1768. Politically, Leyte seems to have existed as early as 1622. The simple structure of government by encomienderos gave way to alcalde mayores, corregidores, and tenientes.
By Royal Decree of July 31, 1860 which ordered the reorganization of provincial governments of the Visayas, Leyte was classified as a third class province; it had 28 pueblos or villages then. The politico-military government existed until the end of the Spanish rule in the Philippines.
The capital site of Leyte changed several times before Tacloban City became the permanent capital in 1787. The first capital was Carigara, then successively, Palo and Tanauan.
The civil government under the Americans was organized on April 22, 1901. The Americans at once saw the need for a road network linking the eastern and western parts of the islands separated geographically by mountain range and culturally by two distinct dialects: the Lineyte-Samarnon and Cebuano. The road was formally inaugurated on April 5, 6 and 7, 1937. The Second World War hit the Philippines in 1941; the Japanese occupation followed. Col. Ruperto Kangleon organized a guerilla organization that harassed the Japanese forces in Leyte. In 1944 Leyte became world- famous as the point of entry for the American forces of liberation.
During the liberation, the province was placed prominently on the world map. General Douglas MacArthur, head of the largest United States fleet of transport and warships, accompanied by Commonwealth President Sergio Osme and Carlos P. Romulo, landed in Palo, Leyte to reclaim the country from the Japanese forces. A historical marker in Palo marks the spot in Leyte where General Douglas MacArthur and his army landed on October 20, 1944.
From October 23, 1944 to February 27, 1945, Tacloban became the temporary seat of the Philippine Commonwealth.
On May 22, 1959, by virtue of Republic Act No. 2227, the island province was divided into Leyte and Southern Leyte. Years later, on May 11, 1992, the sub-province of Biliran was converted into a regular province. The original Leyte Province was again trimmed down by 8 municipalities.
Cities and Towns
People and culture
The people of Leyte are divided into two main groups, primarily by language. In the west and south are the Cebuanos, while in the north and east are the Waray-waray.
The Cebuanos have ties with Cebu, the most populous province in the Visayas; the Warays are more tied to Leyte and Samar.
The economy of Leyte depends on agriculture. Rice is farmed in the lower flatter areas specifically those around Tacloban, while coconut farming, for coconut oil, and is the main cash crop of the more mountainous areas. Fishing is also a major source of livelihood among residents.
Leyte is the largest province in the Eastern Visayas Region. The province of Leyte is one of the six provinces of Eastern Visayas Region located in Central Philippines adjacent to Cebu which ranks eighth in size among larger islands in the Philippine Archipelago. It is situated in the island of Leyte and is the oldest province in the region. The province is bounded on the north by the Province of Biliran, in the east by the San Juanico Strait and the island of Samar, the Visayas and Ormoc Seas in the west and Southern Leyte to its south. The province is considered the regional center of eastern Visayas where the regional and provincial capital, Tacloban City, is situated. Tacloban City is the oldest and most metropolitan of three other regional cities. Another city to its west, Ormoc City, is a chartered city which enjoys substantial autonomy from the provincial government in the management of its local affairs.
Ormoc City is an independent component city of Leyte. The city governs itself independent of the province and the residents do not vote for elective provincial officials, as stated in the city's charter.