This article is about the Philippine province. For other uses, see Palawan (disambiguation).
Province of Palawan

Palawan Provincial Capitol




  • Philippines' Best Island[1]
  • Philippines' Last Frontier[2][3]
  • The (Spaniards') Land of Promise[4]

Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 10°00′N 118°50′E / 10°N 118.83°E / 10; 118.83Coordinates: 10°00′N 118°50′E / 10°N 118.83°E / 10; 118.83
Country Philippines
Region Mimaropa (Region IV-B) (in transition[5][6])
Founded 1818
Capital Puerto Princesa
  Type Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  Governor Jose C. Alvarez (NPC)
  Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates (NUP)
  Total 14,649.73 km2 (5,656.29 sq mi)
Area rank 1st out of 81
  (excludes Puerto Princesa)
Population (2015 census)[8]
  Total 849,469
  Rank 31st out of 81
  Density 58/km2 (150/sq mi)
  Density rank 79th out of 81
  (excludes Puerto Princesa)
Demonym(s) Palaweño
  Independent cities
  Component cities 0
  Districts 1st to 3rd districts of Palawan (shared with Puerto Princesa City)
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP Code 5300–5322
IDD:area code +63(0)48
ISO 3166 code PH-PLW
Spoken languages

Palawan (Pron. /pəˈlɑːwɑːn/, from Tagalog pronunciation: [paˈlawan]), officially the Province of Palawan (Filipino: Lalawigan ng Palawan; Hiligaynon: Kapuoran sang Palawan; Spanish: Provincia de Palawan), is an archipelagic province of the Philippines that is located in the Mimaropa region. It is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. Its capital is the City of Puerto Princesa, but it is governed independently from the province as a highly urbanized city.

The islands of Palawan stretch between Mindoro in the northeast and Borneo in the southwest. It lies between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. The province is named after its largest island, Palawan Island (09°30′N 118°30′E / 9.500°N 118.500°E / 9.500; 118.500), measuring 450 kilometres (280 mi) long, and 50 kilometres (31 mi) wide.[9][10]


Palawan is composed of the long and narrow Palawan Island, plus a number of other smaller islands surrounding the main island. The Calamianes Group of Islands to the Northeast consists of Busuanga Island, Coron Island and Culion Island. Durangan Island (Dulangan) almost touches the westernmost part of Palawan Island, while Balabac Island is located off the southern tip, separated from Borneo by the Balabac Strait. In addition, Palawan covers the Cuyo Islands in the Sulu Sea. The disputed Spratly Islands, located a few hundred kilometres to the west, are considered part of Palawan by the Philippines, and is locally called the "Kalayaan Group of Islands".

Palawan's almost 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) of irregular coastline are dotted with roughly 1,780 islands and islets, rocky coves, and sugar-white sandy beaches. It also harbors a vast stretch of virgin forests that carpet its chain of mountain ranges. The mountain heights average 3,500 feet (1,100 m) in altitude, with the highest peak rising to 6,843 feet (2,086 m)[10] at Mount Mantalingahan. The vast mountain areas are the source of valuable timber. The terrain is a mix of coastal plain, craggy foothills, valley deltas, and heavy forest interspersed with riverine arteries that serve as irrigation.[9]

The province has a total land area of 14,649.73 square kilometres (5,656.29 sq mi).[11] When Puerto Princesa City is included for geographical purposes, its land area is 17,030.75 square kilometres (6,575.61 square miles).[11] The land area is distributed to its mainland municipalities, comprising 12,239 square kilometres (4,726 square miles), and the island municipalities, which altogether measure 2,657 square kilometres (1,026 square miles). In terms of archipelagic internal waters, Palawan has the biggest marine resources that covers almost half of the Sulu Sea and a big chunk of the South China Sea that is within the municipal waters of Kalayaan Municipality which was official annexed to the Philippine jurisdiction by virtue of Presidential Decree 1596 dated June 11, 1978.


The province has two types of climate. The first, which occurs in the northern and southern extremities and the entire western coast, has two distinct seasons – six months dry and six months wet. The other, which prevails in the eastern coast, has a short dry season of one to three months and no pronounced rainy period during the rest of the year. The southern part of the province is virtually free from tropical depressions but northern Palawan experiences torrential rains during the months of July and August. Summer months serve as peak season for Palawan. Sea voyages are most favorable from March to early June when the seas are calm. The average maximum temperature is 31 °C (88 °F) with little variation all year.[9]

Administrative divisions

Palawan comprises 433 barangays in 23 municipalities and the capital City of Puerto Princesa. As an archipelago, Palawan has 13 mainland municipalities and 10 island towns. There are three congressional districts, namely: the first district comprising five northern mainland municipalities and nine island towns; the second district composed of six southern mainland towns and the island municipality of Balabac; and the third district covering the capital City of Puerto Princesa and the town of Aborlan. Thirteen municipalities are considered as mainland municipalities, namely Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Sofronio Española, Brooke's Point, Rizal, and Bataraza (located south); San Vicente, Roxas, Dumaran, El Nido, and Taytay (found in the north). The remaining island municipalities are: Busuanga, Coron, Linapacan and Culion (forming the Calamianes group of islands), Cuyo, Agutaya and Magsaysay (the Cuyo group of islands), Araceli, Cagayancillo, Balabac and Kalayaan (Spratly Islands). The capital, Puerto Princesa is a highly urbanized city that governs itself independently from the province, but it usually grouped with the province for statistical and geographic purposes.

A State of Palawan was advocated by President Rodrigo Duterte during a forum in Palawan in 2015. In July 2016, Duterte's spokesperson noted the possibility of 5 states in Luzon, possibly including Palawan in a State of Southern Tagalog which will include CALABARZON and MIMAROPA. There is an active movement in the Calamian Islands, the northernmost island group of Palawan, to become a separate province due to geographic constraint and cultural differences.

  •    Provincial capital and highly urbanized city
  •      Municipality

City or municipality[A] Location District[11] Population ±% p.a. Area[11] Density Brgy. Coordinates[B]
(2015)[8] (2010)[12] km2 sq mi /km2 /sq mi
Aborlan Mainland 3rd 4.1% 35,091 32,209 1.65% 807.33 311.71 43 110 19 9°26′14″N 118°32′54″E / 9.4371°N 118.5484°E / 9.4371; 118.5484 (Aborlan)
Agutaya Island 1st 1.5% 12,545 11,906 1.00% 37.31 14.41 340 880 10 11°09′04″N 120°56′22″E / 11.1511°N 120.9394°E / 11.1511; 120.9394 (Agutaya)
Araceli Island 1st 1.8% 14,909 14,113 1.05% 204.30 78.88 73 190 13 10°33′13″N 119°59′21″E / 10.5535°N 119.9891°E / 10.5535; 119.9891 (Araceli)
Balabac Island 2nd 4.7% 40,142 35,758 2.23% 581.60 224.56 69 180 20 7°59′12″N 117°03′49″E / 7.9866°N 117.0635°E / 7.9866; 117.0635 (Balabac)
Bataraza Mainland 2nd 8.9% 75,468 63,644 3.30% 726.20 280.39 100 260 22 8°40′20″N 117°37′41″E / 8.6722°N 117.6281°E / 8.6722; 117.6281 (Bataraza)
Brooke's Point Mainland 2nd 7.8% 66,374 61,301 1.53% 1,303.40 503.25 51 130 18 8°46′25″N 117°50′10″E / 8.7737°N 117.8361°E / 8.7737; 117.8361 (Brooke's Point)
Busuanga Island 1st 2.6% 22,046 21,358 0.61% 392.90 151.70 56 150 14 12°08′00″N 119°56′10″E / 12.1332°N 119.9361°E / 12.1332; 119.9361 (Busuanga)
Cagayancillo Island 1st 0.7% 6,285 7,116 −2.34% 26.39 10.19 240 620 12 9°34′37″N 121°11′50″E / 9.5769°N 121.1971°E / 9.5769; 121.1971 (Cagayancillo)
Coron Island 1st 6.1% 51,803 42,941 3.64% 689.10 266.06 75 190 23 11°59′56″N 120°12′22″E / 11.9988°N 120.2060°E / 11.9988; 120.2060 (Coron)
Culion Island 1st 2.4% 20,139 19,543 0.57% 499.59 192.89 40 100 14 11°53′26″N 120°01′19″E / 11.8905°N 120.0220°E / 11.8905; 120.0220 (Culion)
Cuyo Island 1st 2.6% 22,360 21,847 0.44% 84.95 32.80 260 670 17 10°50′55″N 121°00′49″E / 10.8486°N 121.0137°E / 10.8486; 121.0137 (Cuyo)
Dumaran Mainland 1st 2.8% 23,734 21,397 1.99% 435.00 167.95 55 140 16 10°31′35″N 119°46′13″E / 10.5265°N 119.7703°E / 10.5265; 119.7703 (Dumaran)
El Nido (Bacuit) Mainland 1st 4.9% 41,606 36,191 2.69% 923.26 356.47 45 120 18 11°10′46″N 119°23′29″E / 11.1795°N 119.3913°E / 11.1795; 119.3913 (El Nido)
Kalayaan Island 1st 0.0% 184 222 −3.51% 290.00 111.97 0.63 1.6 1 11°03′12″N 114°17′09″E / 11.0534°N 114.2857°E / 11.0534; 114.2857 (Kalayaan)
Linapacan Island 1st 1.8% 15,668 14,180 1.92% 195.44 75.46 80 210 10 11°29′28″N 119°52′06″E / 11.4910°N 119.8682°E / 11.4910; 119.8682 (Linapacan)
Magsaysay Island 1st 1.4% 12,196 11,965 0.36% 49.48 19.10 250 650 11 10°51′52″N 121°03′01″E / 10.8645°N 121.0504°E / 10.8645; 121.0504 (Magsaysay)
Narra Mainland 2nd 8.6% 73,212 65,264 2.21% 831.73 321.13 88 230 23 9°16′10″N 118°24′14″E / 9.2694°N 118.4039°E / 9.2694; 118.4039 (Narra)
Puerto Princesa Mainland 3rd 255,116 222,673 2.62% 2,381.02 919.32 110 280 66 9°44′24″N 118°44′24″E / 9.7400°N 118.7400°E / 9.7400; 118.7400 (Puerto Princesa)
Quezon Mainland 2nd 7.2% 60,980 55,142 1.93% 943.19 364.17 65 170 14 9°14′12″N 117°59′29″E / 9.2368°N 117.9914°E / 9.2368; 117.9914 (Quezon)
Rizal (Marcos) Mainland 2nd 5.9% 50,096 42,759 3.06% 1,256.47 485.13 40 100 11 9°01′49″N 117°38′29″E / 9.0302°N 117.6413°E / 9.0302; 117.6413 (Rizal)
Roxas Mainland 1st 7.7% 65,358 61,058 1.30% 1,177.56 454.66 56 150 31 10°19′11″N 119°20′35″E / 10.3196°N 119.3430°E / 10.3196; 119.3430 (Roxas)
San Vicente Mainland 1st 3.7% 31,232 30,919 0.19% 1,462.94 564.84 21 54 10 10°31′44″N 119°15′17″E / 10.5289°N 119.2547°E / 10.5289; 119.2547 (San Vicente)
Sofronio Española Mainland 2nd 3.9% 32,876 29,997 1.76% 473.91 182.98 69 180 9 8°58′01″N 117°59′41″E / 8.9669°N 117.9947°E / 8.9669; 117.9947 (Sofronio Española)
Taytay Mainland 1st 8.8% 75,165 70,837 1.14% 1,257.68 485.59 60 160 31 10°49′32″N 119°31′00″E / 10.8256°N 119.5166°E / 10.8256; 119.5166 (Taytay)
Total[C] 849,469 771,667 1.85% 14,649.73 5,656.29 58 150 433 (see GeoGroup box)
  1. ^ Former names are italicized.
  2. ^ Coordinates mark the city/town center, and are sortable by latitude.
  3. ^ Total figures exclude the highly urbanized city of Puerto Princesa.


In 2001, the residents of Palawan voted in a plebiscite to reject inclusion into an expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.[13]

On 17 May 2002, Executive Order No. 103 divided Region IV into Region IV-A (Calabarzon) and Region IV-B (Mimaropa), placing the province of Palawan into Mimaropa.[14]

On 23 May 2005, Executive Order No. 429 directed that Palawan be transferred from Region IV-B to Region VI.[5] However, Palaweños criticized the move, citing a lack of consultation, with most residents in Puerto Princesa City and all municipalities but one preferring to stay with Region IV-B. Consequently, Administrative Order No. 129 was issued on 19 August 2005 that the implementation of EO 429 be held in abeyance pending approval by the President of its implementation Plan.[6] The Philippine Commission on Elections reported the 2010 Philippine general election results for Palawan as a part of the Region IV-B results.[15] As of 30 June 2011, the abeyance was still in effect and Palawan remained a part of Mimaropa.[7]


A lagoon in El Nido

The geology of Palawan is, in many ways, unlike other parts of the Philippines. The crust of northeast Palawan was derived from the southeast edge of the continental crust of China, part of the Eurasian Plate. It is the exposed portion of a microcontinent that drifted southward with the opening of the South China Sea. This microcontinent also forms the shallow water north of Palawan in the Reed Bank-Dangerous Ground area of the southern South China Sea. Some of the oldest rocks of the Philippines are found in northeast Palawan (Permian-Carboniferous age). Southwest Palawan exposes primarily ophiolitic material (rocks derived from uplifted oceanic crust and mantle). This 34 Myr old oceanic material[16] appears to have been thrust upon the continental crust. The transition from "oceanic" ophiolite in the southwest to "continental"-type rocks in the northeast occurs in the area of central Palawan around Ulugan Bay and the Sabang area. In the southern coasts of Ulugan Bay and Sabang Beach, are several exposures showing that the Palawan ophiolite has been thrust on to the continent-derived clastic rocks ("Sabang thrust").[17]

The Palawan Trough is an area of deeper water adjacent to the north coast of Palawan in the South China Sea.[18] The Palawan trough is thought to be due to downbending of the continental crust due to the weight of the ophiolite thrust sheet.

Further north, around the Malampaya Sound area and up to the El Nido area, one finds deep marine chert and limestone.

Intruding these rocks in central Palawan (Cleopatra's Needle area) and northern Palawan (Mount Capoas or Kapoas area) are young granite bodies (true granite to granodiorite) of Miocene age (13-15 million years old based on zircon and monazite U-Pb dating).[19] In the Taytay area of northern Palawan, a young basaltic cinder cone is another manifestation of young magmatic activity. The granitic magmatism and basaltic magmatism are both expressions of what has been identified as a widespread post-South China Sea spreading magmatism that has affected many areas around the South China Sea.[20]

Tectonically, Palawan with the Calamian Islands, is considered to be a north-east extension of the Sunda Plate, in collision with the Philippine Mobile Belt at Mindoro.


The early history of Palawan was determined by a team of researchers led by Dr. Robert B. Fox. They found evidence in the Tabon Caves that humans have lived in Palawan for more than 50,000 years. They also found human bone fragments, from an individual known as Tabon Man, in the municipality of Quezon, as well as tools and other artifacts. Although the origin of the cave dwellers is not yet established, anthropologists believe they may have come from Borneo. The Tabon Caves are now known as the Cradle of Philippine Civilization[9]

Ancient times

The Palawano and Tagbanwa, are believed to be direct descendants of Palawan's earliest settlers. They developed a non-formal form of government, an alphabet, and a system of trading with sea-borne merchants.[21]

Surviving ancient tribal artwork include reliefs of elephants, sharks, and fish found at Tabon Caves. Approximately 5,000 years ago, a culturally distinct period characterised by jar burials is evident. This era lasted till AD 500. Over 1500 jars and a mural depicting a burial procession were found.

A more recent wave of migrants arrived between 220 and 263 AD. This was during a period known as the Three Kingdoms. "Little, dark people" living in Anwei province in South China were driven South by Han People. Some settled in Thailand, others went farther south to Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo. They were known as Aetas and Negritos from whom Palawan's Batak tribe descended.[22]

In AD 982, ancient Chinese traders regularly visited the islands.[22] A Chinese author referred to these islands as Kla-ma-yan (Calamian), Palau-ye (Palawan), and Paki-nung (Busuanga). Pottery, china and other artifacts recovered from caves and waters of Palawan attest to trade relations that existed between Chinese and Malay merchants.[21]

Classical period

In the 12th century, Malay immigrants arrived. Most of their settlements were ruled by Malay chieftains. These people grew rice, ginger, coconuts, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and bananas. They also raised pigs, goats and chickens. Most of their economic activities were fishing, farming, and hunting by the use of bamboo traps and blowguns. The local people had a dialect consisting of 18 syllables.[21] They were followed by the Indonesians of the Majapahit Empire in the 13th century, and they brought with them Buddhism and Hinduism.[23]

Surviving Buddhist images and sculptures are primarily in and near Tabon Cave.

Because of Palawan's proximity to Borneo, southern portions of the island were under the control of the Sultanate of Brunei for more than two centuries, and Islam was introduced. During the same period, trade relations flourished, and intermarriages among the natives and the Chinese, Japanese, Arab and Hindu. The inter-mixing of blood resulted to a distinct breed of Palaweños, both in physical stature and features.[21]

Spanish period

Taytay, the capital of Province of Calamianes in 1818 (Spanish Palawan)

After Ferdinand Magellan's death, remnants of his fleet landed in Palawan where the bounty of the land saved them from starvation. Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's chronicler named the place "Land of Promise."[22]

The northern Calamianes Islands were the first to come under Spanish authority, and were later declared a province separate from the Palawan mainland. In the early 17th century, Spanish friars sent out missions in Cuyo, Agutaya, Taytay and Cagayancillo but they met resistance from Moro communities. Before the 18th century, Spain began to build churches enclosed by garrisons for protection against Moro raids in the town of Cuyo, Taytay, Linapacan and Balabac. In 1749, the Sultanate of Brunei ceded southern Palawan to Spain.[21]

In 1818, the entire island of Palawan, or Paragua as it was called, was organized as a single province named Calamianes, with its capital in Taytay. By 1858, the province was divided into two provinces, namely, Castilla, covering the northern section with Taytay as capital and Asturias in the southern mainland with Puerto Princesa as capital. It was later divided into three districts, Calamianes, Paragua and Balabac, with Principe Alfonso town as its capital. and During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, Cuyo became the second capital of Palawan from 1873 to 1903.

American rule

In 1902, after the Philippine-American War, the Americans established civil rule in northern Palawan, calling it the province of Paragua. In 1903, pursuant to Philippine Commission Act No. 1363, the province was reorganized to include the southern portions and renamed Palawan, and Puerto Princesa declared as its capital.[21]

Many reforms and projects were later introduced in the province. Construction of school buildings, promotion of agriculture, and bringing people closer to the government were among the priority plans during this era.[21]

Japanese invasion

Palawan Massacre

U. S. Army personnel toiled to identify the charred remains of Americans captured at Bataan and burned alive on Palawan. 20 March 1945
Main article: Palawan Massacre

During World War II, in order to prevent the rescue of prisoners of war by the advancing allies, on 14 December 1944, units of the Japanese Fourteenth Area Army (under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita) herded the remaining 150 prisoners of war at Puerto Princesa into three covered trenches which were then set on fire using barrels of gasoline. Prisoners who tried to escape the flames were shot down.[24] Others attempted to escape by climbing over a cliff that ran along one side of the trenches, but were later hunted down and killed. Only 11 men escaped the slaughter and between 133 and 141 were killed.

The massacre is the basis for the recently published book Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II by Bob Wilbanks, and the opening scenes of the 2005 Miramax film, The Great Raid. A memorial has been erected on the site and McDole, in his eighties, was able to attend the dedication.


During the first phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, just off the coast of Palawan, two United States Navy submarines, USS Dace (SS-247) and USS Darter (SS-227) attacked a Japanese cruiser task force led by Admiral Takeo Kurita, sinking his flagship (in which he survived) Atago, and her sister ship Maya. Darter later ran aground that afternoon and was scuttled by USS Nautilus (SS-168).

The island was liberated from the Japanese Imperial Forces by a task force consisting of Filipino and American military personnel between February 28 and April 22, 1945.


Population census of Palawan
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 34,488    
1918 62,626+4.06%
1939 82,786+1.34%
1948 91,092+1.07%
1960 139,544+3.62%
1970 198,861+3.60%
1975 254,356+5.06%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1980 311,548+4.14%
1990 436,140+3.42%
1995 510,909+3.01%
2000 593,500+3.26%
2007 682,152+1.94%
2010 771,667+4.59%
2015 849,469+1.85%
(excluding Puerto Princesa City)
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[8][12][25][26]
Further information: Tribes of Palawan

The population of Palawan in the 2015 census was 849,469 people,[8] with a density of 58 inhabitants per square kilometre or 150 inhabitants per square mile. When Puerto Princesa City is included for geographical purposes, the population is 1,104,585 people, with a density of 65/km2 (168/sq mi).

The province is a melting pot of 87 different cultural groups and races. Basically, its culture bears a strong influence from China, India and the Middle East. Influx of migrants from other parts of the Philippines, particularly from Muslim Mindanao, accounts for the high population growth rate of 3.98% annually. The native-born Palaweños still predominate the populace. Eighteen percent is composed of cultural minority groups such as the Tagbanwa, Palawano, Batak, and Molbog.


Roman Catholicism

The predominant religion in Palawan is Roman Catholicism. In 2014, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Prinsesa had a 68% adherence while the Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay (Northern Palawan) had an 88% adherence. One of the religious orders that had a significant mission in the islands is the Order of Augustinian Recollects.

The island of Palawan is divided into two Apostolic Vicariates: the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa in Southern Palawan and the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay in Northern Palawan.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Protestantism and other groups

Several Baptist and other Protestant denominations have a strong presence on Palawan as do the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines, and the Seventh-day Adventists. Charismatic groups such as Jesus is Lord (JIL) and the Life Church (formerly known at the Life Renewal Center).

The Members Church of God International popularly called Ang Dating Daan establishes three church districts namely Coron, Northern Palawan and Southern Palawan which signifies strong membership in the province.

Other Christian denominations including the indigenous Iglesia ni Cristo has many local congregations in the province.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines or (UCCP), the Jesus Miracle Crusade, the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ or PMCC as well as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan Church) which is standing as one diocese (The Diocese of Palawan). Jehovah's Witnesses have an active membership of 181,236 in the Philippines as of 2012. Special pioneers from the Witnesses have been preaching to prisoners at the Iwahig penal colony in Palawan, and were permitted to build a small Kingdom Hall right on the premises.[27]


Further information: Islam in the Philippines

While the formerly Muslim majority population in Mindanao was reduced to 40% as a result of the influx of Christian Filipino settlers in the 20th century, as of 2015 Muslims were reported by the Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Democratization as forming an "overwhelming majority" in Palawan, as well as the Sulu Archipelago.[28] However, other sources had earlier reported a 50-50 split between Muslims and Christians—with Muslims concentrated mostly in the south of Palawan.[29][30]

Other religions

There are Buddhists - mainly Vietnamese refugees who settled in Palawan, as well as some ethnic Chinese Buddhists. One notable Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in Palawan is Chùa Vạn Pháp.[31]

Most of the ethnic minorities such as Batak and Tagbanwa are animists, but many have become Christians (usually Protestant) or have joined other sects.


Spoken languages in Palawan
Languages percentage
Filipino (Tagalog)
Hiligaynon (Ilonggo)

There are 52 languages and dialects in the province, with Tagalog being spoken by more than 50 percent of the people. Other languages are Cuyonon (26.27 percent), Hiligaynon (19 percent), and Palawano (4.0 percent).


Palawan's economy is basically agricultural. The three major crops are palay, corn and coconut. Mineral resources include nickel, copper, manganese, and chromite. Logging is also a major industry. Palawan has one of the richest fishing grounds in the country. About 45% of Manila's supply of fish comes from here. Having natural gas reserves of approximately 30,000 trillion cubic feet, the province is the only oil-producing province in the country.[32][33] In addition, tourism is also a thriving sector.

Pearl diving used to be a significant economic activity for Palawan until the advent of plastics. The world's largest pearl, the 240 millimetres (9.4 in) diameter Pearl of Lao Tzu, was found off Palawan in 1934.

The economic and agricultural business growth of province is at 20% per annum.[33] Coconut, sugar, rice, lumber, and livestock are produced here.[10]

Flora and fauna

Unlike most of the Philippines, Palawan is biogeographically part of Sundaland, with a fauna and flora related to that found in Borneo.[34]

Among the many endemic species are the Palawan peacock-pheasant, Philippine mouse-deer, Philippine pangolin, Palawan bearded pig, and Palawan birdwing. In the forests and grasslands, the air resonates with the songs of more than 200 kinds of birds. Over 600 species of butterflies flutter around the mountains and fields of Palawan, attracted to some 1500 hosts plants found here. Endangered sea turtles nest on white sand beaches.[35] Dugong numbers have fallen seriously, although Palawan still has a larger population than any other part of the country[36] and organizations such as Community Centred Conservation (C3) are working to end the unsustainable use of marine resources in Palawan and in Philippines.[37]

In 2007, a "shrew-eating pitcher plant", named Nepenthes attenboroughii was discovered in Mount Victoria. There were many species of pitcher pants discovered in this wild mountain paradise, the most recent is named Nepenthes leonardoi.

Palawan palm forest.

Total forest cover is about 56 percent of the total land area of the province while mangrove forest accounts for 3.35 percent based on the 1998 Landsat imagery. Grasslands dwindled from 19 percent in 1992 to 12.40 percent in 1998. This is an indication of improving soil condition as deteriorating soil is normally invaded by grass species. Brushlands increased to 25 percent of the total land area. Sprawled beneath the seas are nearly 11,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, representing more than 35% of the country's coral reefs.[35]

Palawan, the only Philippine island cited, is rated by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers as the most beautiful island in the world and is also rated by the National Geographic Traveler magazine as the best island destination in East and Southeast Asia region in 2007, and the 13th best island in the world having "incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. One of the most biodiverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines... The island has had a Biosphere Reserve status since the early 1990s, showing local interest for conservation and sustainable development".[38][39]

Taranaban River

The province was also categorized as "doing well" in the 4th Destination Scorecard survey conducted by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, and Conde Nast Traveler magazine voted its beaches, coves and islets as the tourist destination with the best beaches in Asia.[40] Renowned underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau has described the province as having one of the most beautiful seascapes in the world.[35] and Caril Ridley, founder of Palawan Environmental and Marine Studies Center (PEMS) says the Islands of northern Palawan are destined to become a future destination for Asia's growing economic and environmental conferencing.

In 2012, the purple crab was discovered here along with four other species.


Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary

A game reserve and wildlife sanctuary of exotic African animals and endangered endemic animals of Palawan. The reserve was established on August 31, 1976 by virtue of the Presidential Decree No.1578, this was initiated in response to the appeal of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to help save African wildlife when former President Ferdinand Marcos attended the 3rd World Conference in Kenya. By virtue of the Republic Act 7611 (SEP), administrative jurisdiction of DENR was given to the local government of Palawan, effective December 31, 1993. Management of the area is the responsibility of the Office of the Palawan Council of Sustainable Development (PCSD). It is located in Calauit Island in Busuanga.

Coron Reefs, Coron Bay, Busuanga

Seven lakes surrounded by craggy limestone cliffs attract hundreds of nature lovers to Coron Reefs in Northern Palawan, near the town of Coron. Busuanga Island, whose main town is Coron, is the jump-off point for numerous dive operators. The principal dive sites are 12 World War II Japanese shipwrecks sunk on September 24, 1944 by US Navy action. They range in depth from the surface to 40 meters. This large variety offers exciting wreck exploration for enthusiasts, from novice divers and snorkelers and recreational divers to experienced TEC divers. The aquatic views from the sunken Japanese warships off Coron Island are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine's top 10 best scuba sites in the world.[40]

El Nido Marine Reserve Park

Whitetip reef shark at the Tubbataha Reef.

The January 2008 issue of international magazine Travel + Leisure, published by the American Express Co. (which partnered with Conservation International) listed El Nido's sister hotel resorts El Nido Lagen Island and El Nido Miniloc Island in Miniloc and Lagen Islands as "conservation-minded places on a mission to protect the local environment". Travel + Leisure's 20 Favorite Green Hotels scored El Nido Resort's protection of Palawan's giant clam gardens and the re-introduction of endangered Philippine cockatoos: "8. El Nido Resorts, Philippines: Guest cottages on stilts are set above the crystalline ocean. The resorts are active in both reef and island conservation."[41]

Malampaya Sound Land and Seascape Protected Area

Main article: Malampaya Sound

Located in the Municipality of Taytay, this important ecological and economic zone is a watershed and fishing ground, and the habitat of Bottle-nosed and Irrawaddy dolphins.[42]

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

This park features a large limestone karst landscape with an underground river. One of the river's distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full 'mountain-to-sea' ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park covers 332 km2, including the North and South Reefs. It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100 m perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.

Ursula Island

This game refuge and bird sanctuary is situated near the Municipality of Brooke's Point in southern Palawan. The islet is a migratory and wintering ground for shorebirds and seabirds.[42]

Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Main article: Rasa Island

This 1,983-hectare (4,900-acre) protected area located in the municipality of Narra is a nesting ground of the endemic Philippine cockatoo or katala. It also harbors other rare bird species and marine turtles.


Palawan is served by several airports, landing airstrips and military airfields such as the following:

National Airport
Community Airports
Airstrips and Airfields
  • Coron Airstrip, Coron
  • Culion Airstrip, Culion
  • Brooke's Point Airstrip, Brooke's Point
  • Candaraman Airstrip, Balabac (Candaraman Island)
  • Inandeng Airstrip, San Vicente (under construction)
  • Pamalican (Amanpulo) Airstrip, Cuyo (Pamalican Island)
  • Old Busuanga Airstrip, Busuanga
  • Rancudo Airfield, Kalayaan (military)
  • Tarumpitao Point Airfield, Rizal


The Armed Forces of the Philippines–Western Command in Canigaran and the Philippine National Police-Palawan Command with headquarters in Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa, are responsible for maintenance of the peace and order. Military units in the province under the Western Command are the Naval Forces Northwest (Task Force 41 and 42), Philippine Air Force 4th Naval District IV, Delta Company and 10th Marine Battalion Landing Team located in Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa.



Four telecommunication companies provide local and international direct distance dialing and fax services. Inter island communications is available through the government's telegraph network and the Provincial Radio Communication System. In addition, there are 19 post offices, a number of cargo forwarders provide air parcel and freight services.[43]

The province has access to two satellite-linked television stations. Cable television in the City of Puerto Princesa offers dozens of foreign channels while smaller firms provide cable services in selected towns. Individual cable facility (Dream Cable) is available locally. Seven radio stations are based in Puerto Princesa, four on the AM and three on the FM bands. Community-based radio stations operate in some of the municipalities in the north and south of the province. Additional stations are expected to set up local affiliates in the capital city of Puerto Princesa.[43]

Two mobile phone companies, Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, are operating in the province. Sun Cellular is expected to start operations in the province soon.[43]

Health facilities

Dental Buses provided by the Department of Health for use of provincial government of Palawan.

There are nine provincial government hospitals, two national government hospitals, one military hospital and nine private hospitals in the province. The Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital, Ospital ng Palawan, managed and administered by the Department of Health (DOH), MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital, and the Palawan Adventist Hospital are located in Puerto Princesa.[43]


The National Power Corporation has 14 electric facilities all over Palawan. It operates with a total of 51.363 megawatts of electricity.

Water facilities in Palawan are classified as Level I (deepwell, handpump), Level II (communal faucet), or Level III (house connection). Among all of these types, Level I has the most number of units, accounting to 17,438; this is followed by Level III, with 1,688 units; and Level II, with only 94 units.[43]


The literacy rate in Palawan is increasing by 2% annually because of expanding access to education. Among these programs are the establishment of schools in remote barangays, non-formal education, multi-grade mobile teaching and the drop-out intervention program.[43]

Public schools in the province consist of 623 elementary schools, 126 secondary schools and two universities. Private schools are as follows: 26 elementary, 19 secondary, 4 private colleges, and 10 vocational schools.

Among the public institutions of higher education are the Western Philippines University with campuses in Aborlan and Puerto Princesa City, Coron College of Fisheries, Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trade and the Palawan College of Arts and Trade in Cuyo, Palawan. Also Palawan State University located at Puerto Princesa.

Some of the private institutions are the Holy Trinity University run by the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, Fullbright College, Palawan Polytechnical College Inc., in Roxas, San Vicente and Puerto Princesa City, Systems Technology Institute (STI), AMA Computer Learning Center (ACLC) in Puerto Princesa City, San Francisco Javier College run by the Augustinian Recollect Sisters in Narra, Loyola College in Culion run by the Jesuits, St. Joseph Academy in Cuyo, St. Augustine Academy in Coron, Coron Technical School, Sacred Heart of Jesus High School in Brooke's Point; Northern Palawan Christian Institute (owned and manage by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Palawan Diocese) and the unique educational institution called the St. Ezekiel Moreno Dormitory located in barangay Macarascas, Puerto Princesa City founded by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the present auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila. The Palawanologist, Andrei Ustares Acosta of El Nido, Palawan, founded the new discipline on the studies of Palawan called the Palawanology.[43]

See also


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  4. "The Mysterious Paradise of Palawan". Private Islands Magazine. Retrieved 12 February 2015. A naturally rich region with abundant forests and fishing, there’s little wonder that early Spanish explorers referred to Palawan as the ‘Land of Promise’.
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