About Bicol Province, Philippines

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Bicol Province
is one of the 17 regions of the Philippines. Bicol (also spelled Bikol) is composed of four provinces in the Bicol Peninsula, the southeastern end of Luzon island, and two island-provinces adjacent to the peninsula.

BRIEF PROFILE
Capital: Legazpi City
Land Area: 18,114 sq km
Population: 5,109,798 (2007)
Cities: Iriga, Legazpi, Ligao, Masbate, Naga, Sorsogon, Tabaco
Number of Towns: 107

Political Division_________________________

The region is composed of six provinces, namely, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. It has one independent component city, Naga City, and six component cities - Iriga, Legazpi, Ligao, Masbate City, Sorsogon City, and Tabaco. Masbate City and Sorsogon City are cities within their namesake provinces.

The regional centers are Legazpi, the political and administrative center; and Naga City, the cultural and religious center. Together with Sorsogon City, they are the leading cities in the region in terms of urbanization and the hub of the economic activity.

Geography_____________________________

The total land area of Bicol Region is 17,632.5 km2 (6,807.9 sq mi) or 5.9% of the total land area of the country. Camarines Sur is the largest province occupying 5,266.8 km2 (2,033.5 sq mi) or around 30% of the total, while Catanduanes is the smallest with only 1,511.5 km2 (583.6 sq mi) or 8.6% of the total. Of the region's total land area, around 71% is alienable and disposable while the remaining 29% is public forest areas.

The region is bounded by Lamon Bay to the north, Pacific Ocean to the east, and Sibuyan Sea and Ragay Gulf to the west. The northernmost province, Camarines Norte, is bordered to the north by the province of Quezon, thereby connecting the region to the rest of Luzon.

Religion_______________________________

The region retains Roman Catholicism as the overwhelming religion of the great majority. The Catholic religion has the highest number of followers than any other area in the Philippines.

Fiestas (Feast day of saints) are annual celebrations of parishes, from a simple barrio fiesta honoring a patron associated for good harvest, to a town fiesta honoring a miraculous saint, or a regional one such as the Our Lady of Peņafrancia Fiesta, a week-long celebration to honor the Virgin Mary, dubbed as the "Queen Patroness of Bicolandia". It is widely acknowledged that in Luzon, it is Bicol Region that holds the most number of men entering the seminary for Catholic priesthood, or women entering the religious life to become Catholic nuns.

Language_______________________________

The people of the Bicol region, called Bicolanos, speak any of the several languages of the Bikol macrolanguage, also called Bikolano, an Austronesian language closely related to other Central Philippine languages such as Cebuano and Tagalog. Bicol languages include the Inland Bikol of Bikol-Rinconada (Rinconada area), Bikol-Albay (Buhi, Cam. Sur; Libon, Oas, Daraga, Albay and Donsol, Sorsogon), Bikol-Pandan (Northern Catanduanes). Standard Bikol is based from the coastal Bikol language of the dialect of Legazpi City and is understood widely throughout the region even though they cannot speak it fluently.

The Bikol macrolanguage is the dominant language of the region. The Filipino language (Tagalog) is also spoken in northern parts of Camarines Norte as well as in the municipality of Del Gallego, Camarines Sur. Two Visayan languages, Sorsoganon and Masbateņo or Minasbate, are spoken in Masbate and Sorsogon; they are collectively referred to as Bisakol.

Economy________________________________

Bicol Region has a large amount of rich flat land, and agriculture is the largest component of the economy with close to 50% depending their livelihood on the industry. Coconuts, abaca, banana, coffee and jackfruit are the top five permanent crops in the region. Rice and maize are among the chief seasonal crops of the region. Commercial fishing is also important with thirteen major fishing grounds supplying fish markets in places as far as Metro Manila. Agriculture and fishing are the major factors in the province's economy.

Mining is also one of the contributors to the region's economy. Several handicrafts, jewelry manufacturing, other small-scale industries and manufacturing enterprises bolster rural incomes.

Tourism_________________________________

he region has recently seen a revival in its tourism industry, due to the popularity of Mayon Volcano, the new CamSur Water Sports Complex, whale shark spotting, among others, which consequently increased the number of upscale resorts in the region.

Owing to its location, Region V offers plenty of choices for visitors - beautiful natural features like beaches, mountains and waterfalls with lush vegetation; activities could include scuba diving to wrecked galleons, spelunking, mountaineering; or visits to man-made attractions like church architecture from the Spanish Colonial Period; etc.

The municipality of Daet and Catanduanes province have long been destinations for surfers. The opening of the Southern Luzon International Airport in Legazpi City, which is under construction, is hoped to further boost tourism in the region.

Map of Bicol Province
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