Legazpi City is the capital city of the province of Albay in Region V or the Bicol Region. It is situated on the east or Pacific coast of Albay province, specifically on Albay Gulf. It is the largest city in the Bicol Region hence, it is also considered as the regional and administrative center.
Legazpi was originally called Sawangan. It used to be a settlement whose inhabitants were mostly fishermen and farmers. At present, the city bears its name after Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies which included the Philippines and other Pacific archipelagos.
Being the largest city in the Bicol Region, Legazpi has a total land area of 153.70 square kilometers with a population of 182,201 residents. The city is the religious seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Legazpi with the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Great, otherwise known as the Albay Cathedral, as its church. So like most Filipinos, the vast majority of the city’s residents are Roman Catholics. In fact, Pope John Paul II visited the city in February 1981.
Having attained economic progress and prosperity, Legazpi City was recognized as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines in 2006 by the Asian Institute of Management. It was also cited recently as the most business-friendly city for the whole South Luzon by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). Likewise, Legazpi City was also recognized as one of the best places for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) outside Metro Manila. At present, the city has two IT parks – the Embarcadero de Legazpi and the Legazpi Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park. These two facilities could provide jobs to some 24,000 call center agents in three shifts.
Colloquially considered as the "Gateway to South Luzon", Legazpi is considered as the center of transportation in the Bicol Region, being strategically located in the middle, between two other major cities in Bicol. It hosts the most modern airports, seaport and transport terminals in the region. Legazpi Airport which is the busiest domestic airport in Luzon has a runway of 2,280 meters and is capable of handling international aircrafts. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific has three flights each daily from Manila.
Legazpi City with its nickname, "City of Fun and Adventure", is one of Bicol Region’s top tourist destinations. Mayon Volcano, Philippines’ most famous volcano because of its nearly perfect cone shape, is partly within the city’s border. This volcano stands at an elevation of 8,189 feet and has a crater measuring half kilometer in diameter from which a pool of bubbling hot lava can be seen in its center.
Another interesting spot to visit in Legazpi is the Japanese Tunnel which is an L-shaped tunnel used as an arsenal by the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II. It measures 40 meters long and around 7 feet deep below the ground. The Lignon Hill, on the other hand, is the best place to view Mount Mayon and Legazpi City. This 143-meter high volcanic hill is the highest location in the city’s downtown area and towers over the adjacent Legazpi Airport. This is where the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has a permanent station to observe Mount Mayon.
Legazpi City also celebrates its own festival. The Ibalong Festival which is among the renowned non-religious festivals in Bicol is celebrated in the month of August. The theme of the festival is the epic story of Ibalong, a Bicolano legendary hero and other ancient heroes. In this festival, people parade in the streets wearing masks and costumes to imitate the appearances of heroes and villains; portraying the classic battles of the rich Bicol history. The Ibalong Festival also aims to promote warmth and goodwill to all people.
Legazpi is also home to the Magayon Festival of Albay celebrated throughout the month of April.
Administratively the Component City of Legazpi City is subdivided into 70 barangays. 34 compose the center of the city wheras the other 36 are in the outlying areas. Some of them are even several kilometers away from the center of the Component City. The most populous are Bgy. 10 - Cabugao, Bgy. 35 - Tinago (Pob.), Bgy. 5 - Sagmin Pob. (Sagpon 2), Bgy. 26 - Dinagaan (Pob.), Bgy. 20 - Cabagñan East (Pob.), Bgy. 23 - Imperial Court Subd. (Pob.), Bgy. 13 - Ilawod West Pob. (Ilawod 1), Bgy. 3 - Em's Barrio East (Pob.), Bgy. 21 - Binanuahan West (Pob.), Bgy. 14 - Ilawod Pob. (Ilawod 2), Bgy. 7 - Baño (Pob.), Bgy. 60 - Lamba, Bgy. 69 - Buenavista (Bgy.47), Bgy. 11 - Maoyod Pob. (Bgy. 10 & 11), Bgy. 25 - Lapu-lapu (Pob.).
Among the bigger cities and municipalities in the neighborhood of Legazpi City there are City Of Ligao 25 km west-north-west, City Of Sorsogon (Sorsogon) 31 km east-south-east, City Of Tabaco 25 km north, Naga City (Camarines Sur) 76 km north-west, Daraga (Locsin) 2 km north-west, Iriga City (Camarines Sur) 46 km north-west, Libmanan (Camarines Sur) 95 km north-west, Polangui 32 km north-west, City Of Masbate (Masbate) 88 km south-south-west as well as 68 km north-west of Legazpi City the component city Pili (Camarines Sur).