Cotabato City

Independent Component City
City of Cotabato

Cotabato City Hall

Nickname(s): Stone Fortress of Mindanao

Map of Maguindanao highlighting Cotabato City

Location within the Philippines

Coordinates: 7°13′N 124°15′E / 7.22°N 124.25°E / 7.22; 124.25Coordinates: 7°13′N 124°15′E / 7.22°N 124.25°E / 7.22; 124.25
Country Philippines
Region ARMM
Province Maguindanao (geographically only)
District 1st District of Maguindanao
During Manobo Period 13th Century
Founded as capital of Maguindanao Sultanate 1520
Founding of Pueblo de Cotabato 1862
Cityhood June 20, 1959
Founded by Apo Mamalu and Apo Tabunaway
Barangays 37
  Mayor Atty. Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (NPC)
  Total 176.00 km2 (67.95 sq mi)
Population (2015 census)[2]
  Total 299,438
  Density 1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 9600
Dialing code +63(0)64
Income class 3rd class[1]

Cotabato City, officially the City of Cotabato (Malay: Kota Batu; Maguindanaoan: Kuta Wato; Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Cotabato; Hiligaynon: Dakbanwa/Syudad sang Cotabato; Filipino: Lungsod ng Cotabato; Spanish: Ciudad de Cotabato), is a City in the Philippines located in Mindanao, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 299,438.[2]

Cotabato City is the regional center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but the city is administratively part of the Soccsksargen region, which is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, (North) Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Saranggani, as well as the highly urbanized city of General Santos. For geographical, statistical and legislative purposes, it is grouped with the province of Maguindanao but still does not belong to the ARMM.

Cotabato City is distinct from and should not be confused with the province of Cotabato.


The Spanish fortress in Cotabato, El Fuerte Reina Regente, 1896

The name Cotabato was derived from the Maguindanao word kuta wato and the Malay Bruneian word of Kota Batu, or City of Stone; kota mean city or fortress, and batu mean rock or stone.

Cotabato City had witnessed more history than any other place in Mindanao. Its history dates back to the 15th century when Shariff Kabunsuan, a Johore-born missionary of Malay and Arab descent, landed along the banks of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and introduced Islam to the natives. Islam was the faith that moved the early settlers to communal life, and to establish the Sultanate of Maguindanao with its golden age ushered in by Sultan Dipatuan Qudarat during the 17th century the time when Cotabato City developed as the capital town of Maguindanao.

In the nineteenth century, when Sultan Makakua ruled, roads and wharfs were constructed which gave rise to the birth of modern-day Cotabato. However, the then Municipality of Cotabato was first organized at the later part of the 19th century when the Spaniards established a military post at what is now Barangay Tamontaka, one of the earliest Christian settlements founded south of the Philippines. The Spaniards already took with them, the Chavacanos and Chavacano-speaking Muslims (from Zamboanga City and Isabela, Basilan) and Visayans (mainly Cebuanos and Ilonggos). Chavacano speakers being brought by Spaniards are the reason of the existing Chavacano dialect in Cotabato City called Cotabateño, which evolved from Zamboangueño. Cotabato was then officially founded in 1862 when the Pueblo de Cotabato was established; Christianity was introduced in the area in around the year 1870.

Datu Piang, fourth from the left, with American officers circa 1899. He was the first governor of the Empire Province of Cotabato; Cotabato City was once the capital of the province from 1920 to 1967.

Following the Spanish evacuation in Jan. 1899, Datu Piang led the Moro's in a massacre of the remaining Christian community, enslaving those they did not kill.[3]:529–530 Americans arrived in Mindanao in 1900 after the Spanish–American War ended in 1898. Cotabato town was part of Moro Province and of Department of Mindanao and Sulu from 1903 to 1920, when the Empire Province of Cotabato, referred to as "Moroland" by the Americans, was founded with the town as the capital, with Datu Piang, known as the Grand Old Man of Cotabato, as its first governor.

Several towns were carved off from Cotabato town beginning in the year 1936, with Dulawan (now Datu Piang, Maguindanao) and Midsayap being the first ones which were incorporated as regular municipalities.

In 1942, at the beginning of the Pacific Front of World War II, the Japanese Imperial forces entered what is now Maguindanao province. In 1945, Maguindanao was liberated by allied Philippine Commonwealth troops and Muslim Maguindanaoan guerrilla units after defeating the Japanese Imperial forces in the Battle of Maguindanao during the Second World War.

Several towns were carved off from Cotabato town since the year 1913, with Pikit being the first one founded by Cebuano Christian colonists. Dulawan (now Datu Piang, Maguindanao) and Midsayap were incorporated as towns in 1936. In August 18, 1947, just two years after the Second World War and a year after the official inauguration of Philippine independence, the number of towns in the gigantic Cotabato province were multiplied by Executive Order No. 82 signed by President Manuel Roxas, namely: Kidapawan, Pagalungan, Buayan, Marbel, Parang, Nuling, Dinaig, Salaman, Buluan, Kiamba, and Cabacan, a total of eleven (11) towns added to the previous four towns; the newly founded towns of Kabuntalan, Pikit (conversion as regular municipality), and Glan added up in September 30, 1949. More and more newly created towns added up in the province's number of towns as the province entered the second half of the 20th century.

On July 1, 1950, the then Municipality of Cotabato was made first class municipality under Executive Order No. 466. Nine years later, it became a city on July 10, 1959, and on June 20, 1959 it was officially created into a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 2364.

During the beginning of the 1950s up to the mid-1970s, Cotabato City was by far the second largest and most progressive city in Mindanao, after Davao City, with its population of more than 200,000 people residing in the city that time. However, mass insurgencies and much disorder between Christians and local Muslims in the region, began in the mid-1960 during the Marcos administration, capitulated into the city's economic decline, so the provincial government moved its provisional capital to Pagalungan in 1967 to avoid internal strife in the city. This made the city mostly isolated to other important economic centers in Mindanao.

The city used to be part of the original Province of Cotabato and was its capital from 1920 until 1967, a year after the separation of South Cotabato; since then the city was the administrative center of the ARMM when Maguindanao was carved out in 1973. However, the city broke off administratively from Maguindanao as it rejoined SOCCSKSARGEN in the 1990s. Now many sources consider the city as part of the present Cotabato province, although geographically it is still considered part of Maguindanao.


Cotabato is approximately 698.9 nautical miles (1,294.4 kilometres) from Manila, the country's capital, and is bounded by the municipalities of Sultan Kudarat to the north—with Rio Grande de Mindanao separating the two—Kabuntalan to the east, and Datu Odin Sinsuat to the south. The city faces Illana Bay, part of the Moro Gulf, to the west.

Cotabato City has a total land area of 176.0 square kilometers, located at the mouth of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and Pulangi River.[4]


Cotabato City is politically subdivided into 37 barangays.

  • Bagua Proper
  • Bagua I
  • Bagua II
  • Bagua III
  • Kalanganan
  • Kalanganan I
  • Kalanganan II
  • Poblacion Proper
  • Poblacion I
  • Poblacion II
  • Poblacion III
  • Poblacion IV
  • Poblacion V
  • Poblacion VI
  • Poblacion VII
  • Poblacion VIII
  • Poblacion IX
  • Rosary Heights Proper
  • Rosary Heights I
  • Rosary Heights II
  • Rosary Heights III
  • Rosary Heights IV
  • Rosary Heights V
  • Rosary Heights VI
  • Rosary Heights VII
  • Rosary Heights VIII
  • Rosary Heights IX
  • Rosary Heights X
  • Rosary Heights XI
  • Rosary Heights XII
  • Rosary Heights XIII
  • Tamontaka Proper
  • Tamontaka I
  • Tamontaka II
  • Tamontaka III
  • Tamontaka IV
  • Tamontaka V


Under the Köppen climate classification system, Cotabato City features a tropical rainforest climate (Af), falling just short of a tropical monsoon climate (Am).

Climate data for Cotabato City
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32
Average low °C (°F) 21
Average precipitation mm (inches) 60


Downtown Cotabato City
Population census of Cotabato City
YearPop.±% p.a.
1990 127,065    
1995 146,779+2.74%
2000 163,849+2.39%
2007 259,153+6.53%
2010 271,786+1.75%
2015 299,438+1.86%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[2][6]

The majority of the inhabitants of Cotabato City are Maguindanaoan, comprising about 66% of the city's population. There are sizable ethnic populations of Maranaos (8%), Tagalog (9%), Cebuano (8%) and Ilonggo (6%). The remainder of the population belongs to other ethnicities (e.g. Iranon, Binisaya, Tausug, Chavacano).

The main language is Maguindanao. Other languages spoken in Cotabato City are Cebuano, Ilonggo and Chavacano, spoken by both Christians and Muslims as well as Tagalog, Maranao, English and Arabic. The dialect evolved from Chavacano native to Cotabato City is called Cotabateño.


Today, the majority of the city's population is Muslim, comprising about 80% of the population. The majority of Muslims in Cotabato City are Sunnites. The majority of Christians in Cotabato City are Roman Catholics, most of whom are Cebuanos, Ilonggos and Chavacanos.


Cotabato City, historically, during its heyday as the capital of the Maguindanao Sultanate, has been the most economically prosperous city in the island of Mindanao. Its prosperity has been taken away by civil internal strife beginning in the 1970s. However, once it became part of Soccsksargen region in the 1990s, its economy began a radical economic recovery.

As of now, the city currently serves as the center for economic support activities, trade and finance, education and other support services such as social, physical, cultural and other basic services of Central Mindanao. It is now struggling to gain its lost glory.


Landmark and parks

Rio Grande de Mindanao at Cotabato City

that were buried in its bosoms, muted for over half a century. Formally re-opened and blessed on September 19, 1996, the outwait caves of Cotabato city has once again reverberated the voices of the Cotabateños; this time however, in a peacefully happy tone. Located at the foot of the "Tantawan" or P.C. hill, the cave is reputed to be seven kilometers long and of formidable, solid rock. Having four major entrances, each gaping mouth offers unique experience to its visitors.

begin lanuched in 1999 and 2000

ARMM Regional Building




Cotabato City can be reached via Awang Airport in neighboring Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, served by:


Public transportation include:


Sister cities


  1. 1 2 "List of Cities". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 "Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN)". Census of Population (2015): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  3. Foreman, J., 1906, The Philippine Islands: A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  4. Disaster Preparedness of Schools by Abdul Raffi A. Abas
  5. "Historical Weather for Cotabato, Soccsksargen, Philippines". Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  6. "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
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