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Ilocos Sur
Island Group Luzon
Region Ilocos Region
Capital City Of Vigan
Area 2,596.00 km²
Cities 2
Municipalities 32
- Total 632,255
- Density/km² 243.55
Income class 1
Location in the Philippines:

Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur is a province of the Philippines located along the western coast of Northern Luzon and belongs to Ilocos Region. It consists of 2 component cities and 32 municipalities with the historic city of Vigan as the provincial capital. The province occupies about 20.11% of the total land area of Ilocos Region. Ilocos Sur is bordered by Ilocos Norte and Abra to the north, Mountain Province to the east, La Union and Benguet to the south, and the South China Sea to the west.

Before the coming of the Spaniards, the coastal plains in northwestern Luzon were called the Ylokos. The inhabitants built their villages near the small bays on the coves called “looc” in the dialect. Ilocos Sur was founded by the Spanish conquistador, Juan de Salcedo in 1572. It was formed when the north, now Ilocos Norte, split from the south, now Ilocos Sur. At that time, it included parts of Abra and the upper half of present-day La Union. The current boundary of the province was permanently defined by virtue of Republic Act No. 2973 which was signed on March 1917.

The climate in the province is generally dry from the months of October to May. The southern portion, however, is humid and rain is evenly distributed throughout the year while the eastern part is drier. August has the most rainfall while January and February have the least.

Ilocos Sur is inhabited mostly by Ilocanos belonging to the third largest ethnic group of Malay origin. The people engaged in farming, producing food crops mostly rice, corn, vegetables, root crops, and fruits. Non-food crops include tobacco, cotton and tigergrass. Cottage industries in the province include loom weaving, furniture making, jewelry making, ceramics, blacksmithing and food processing.

The historic city of Vigan, which was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in November 1999, is almost four centuries old. It was once known as “Kabigbigaan” from “biga”, a coarse, erect and araceous plant with large and ornate leaves which grows on the banks of the rivers. Its name “Bigan” was later changed to Vigan. Vigan is the best preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its Kamestizoan District has examples of typical houses with tiled roofs, hardwood floors, balustrades and azoteas in varying Spanish-Mexican-Chinese architectural styles without parallel anywhere in the East and Southeast Asia.

Other tourist spots in the province are the notable beaches of Cabangtalan in Sinait, also known as Imelda’s Cove; Pug-os in Cabugao; and the beaches in the towns of Santa Maria, Santiago, San Esteban and Candon. Ilocos Sur is home to century-old churches such as the Vigan Cathedral; Santa Maria Church which is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list; Candon Church which has a grand façade and is famous for its tall bell tower and the longest painting in the Philippines; and the Sinait Church which houses the miraculous statue of the Black Nazarene.

The most populous cities and municipalities in Ilocos Sur are:

City/Municipality City class Area
in km²
Urbanisation Population
Total Density/km²
City Of Candon Component City 103.28 4 partly urban 56,270 544.83
City Of Vigan Component City 25.12 4 urban 47,246 1,880.81
Narvacan Municipality 122.21 2 partly urban 41,578 340.22
Santa Cruz Municipality 88.78 1 partly urban 35,906 404.44
Tagudin Municipality 151.19 2 partly urban 35,791 236.73
Cabugao Municipality 95.56 1 partly urban 33,847 354.20
Bantay Municipality 76.60 3 partly urban 33,174 433.08
Santa Maria Municipality 63.31 3 partly urban 28,002 442.30
Magsingal Municipality 84.98 3 partly urban 27,615 324.96
Santo Domingo Municipality 55.49 3 rural 25,888 466.53

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