The Samal tribe is divided into two major branches traceable to their recent geographical origin. The Western Samals predominate in the islands and Coastal regions to the west of Job. The Eastern Samals trace their ancestry to the east of Job. Nowadays, a great number of Samals are found in Zamboanga City, Basilan and even in Zambaonga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur who have migrated in search of better economic clout.
Samal settlement is characterized as small compact communities of 100-500 residents often organized as wards within villages and towns. Small houses generally consist of one or more small, rectangular rooms and an attached kitchen located on a single level, and raised above the ground on wooden pilings. On socio-political organization, Panglima is recognized as the leader in a Samal community. Social control rests on him.
In a Samal community, a couple is normally recognized as married if they have established residence and a sexual relationship with one another. Dowry to the bride's father is common to Samal marriage arrangement. The Eastern Samals were regarded as pirates and slaves. They posed a serious threat in the area of present-day Malaysia and Western Indonesia.