|Region||Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)|
|Area|| 1,234.2 km²|
|Total (2000)|| 332,828|
Basilan is an island province of the Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its capital is Isabela City and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula. Basilan is the northernmost among the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago.
Basilan is seen as one of the strongholds of the Islamic separatist group, the Abu Sayyaf. This group kidnapped a group of tourists from Palawan and brought them to Basilan, including an American Christian missionary couple.
Basilan is subdivided into nine municipalities and two cities. Isabela City is the capital city of Basilan. However, Isabela City is independent of the province and is actually part of the region of Zamboanga Peninsula. Basilan used to be part of Western Mindanao (the former name of Zamboanga Peninsula), but in a recent plebiscite the residents of Basilan opted to join ARMM, with the exception of Isabela City.
|City/Municipality|| No. of
|Hadji Mohammad Ajul||11||14,540|
The island's early settlers were the Orang Dampuans originating from the islands of Eastern Indonesia, who were the ancestors of the Yakan. The legendary Sultan Kudarat of Maguindanao maintained a stronghold in Lamitan town until the Spaniards under the command of Governor General Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera crushed it in 1637. Jesuit missionaries arrived a few years later. In anticipation of an invasion from the Chinese pirate-warlord Koxinga, that would devastate Manila, the Spanish authorities withdrew all stations in the south of the country to augment their forces holed up in Intramuros, temporarily freeing Zamboanga and Isabela from Spanish administration in 1663.
The Spanish eventually returned, and after having established lucrative trading agreements with the native kingdoms that dotted the area, nearby Zamboanga experienced a revival in its economy. The increasingly wealthy Spanish trading post in Zamboanga became an even more sought after prize for the Muslim pirates of the era, so much so that the surrounding islands started to attract the attention of other foreign powers, and chief among these coveted islands was Basilan.
The Netherlands|Dutch attacked Basilan in 1747 but were repulsed by the natives, who has by then organized a minor, short-lived fiefdom under the Tausug Datu Bantilan. The France|French then attempted to occupy the island which they called Taguime in 1844, but they, too, failed. Soon thereafter, the Spaniards built a stone fort - Fuerte de Isabela Segunda - named after the Spanish child-queen of the time, Queen Isabella II|Isabela II.
When the town of Zamboanga became a chartered city in 1936, it included Basilan. On July 1, 1948, by virtue of a bill filed by then congressman Juan S. Alano, Basilan itself became a separate city. The city was converted into a province on December 27, 1973 after incessant fighting forced the hand of Filipino Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to issue a Presidential Decree to the effect. Initially, 10 Municipalities were created, and these were: Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso, Lantawan, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo, Tuburan, Pilas, Tapiantana, and Malamawi. This was eventually reduced to seven municipalities, with the three outlying island-municipalities being merged with their nearest neighbor.