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Island Group Mindanao
Region Autonomous Region in Muslim
Capital Jolo
Area 3,436.99 km²
Cities 0
Municipalities 19
- Total 849,670
- Density/km² 247.21
Income class 2
Location in the Philippines:


Sulu is an island province of the Philippines belonging in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is located in the southernmost part of the country and consists of over 157 scattered and almost isolated islands, some of them still unnamed, stretching from the tip of Zamboanga southward towards Borneo. These islands and islets are divided into four groups: Jolo group, Pangutaran group, Tongkil-Banguingui (Samales) group and Siasi-Tupal group.

The province is divided into two congressional districts, 18 municipalities and 410 barangays. Ten municipalities are on mainland Jolo while eight others are island municipalities. Jolo is the provincial capital.

Although consisting of mixed community of Muslims and Christians, the Tausugs dominate the Sulu Archipelago. They were among the first Filipinos to embrace Islam as a religion and a way of life. They are referred to as “people of the current” because of their close ties to the sea. The typical houses of the Tausugs are made of bamboo and lumber. Some houses have elaborate woodcarving, and have slits instead of windows. This is for protection and to keep its young maidens from view.

The province lies outside the typhoon belt of the Philippines. Because of this, it is blessed with a year-round bounty from both land and sea. The province grows a variety of products such as abaca, coconut, and fruits like oranges, lanzones, mangosteen and durian.

Fishing is an important industry in the province. Sea turtles and fish of all kinds are caught. Trepang and pearls are also gathered in Sulu. Trepang is a sea cucumber of the genus Holothuria of the southern Pacific and Indian Oceans, and is often dried or smoked for use as an ingredient in soup, especially in China and Indonesia.

The Sulu Sea is dotted with coral reefs, such as the pearl farm at Marungas Island and provides some of the world’s best dive spots. The Tubbataha Reef, a 33,200 – hectare underwater splendor, is the best site of Sulu Sea. Because of its fabulous beauty, the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park was honored by UNESCO in December 1993 as the first natural site in the Philippines to be etched in the prestigious World Heritage List.

Other places to see in the province are the Sulu Ethnological Museum at Notre Dame College, the Provincial Capitol’s Moor-inspired architecture, the Masjid Jami, the largest mosque, and the Barter Trade Market.

The most populous cities and municipalities in Sulu are:

City/Municipality City class Area
in km²
Urbanisation Population
Total Density/km²
Jolo Municipality 126.40 1 urban 140,307 1,110.02
Talipao Municipality 380.57 1 partly urban 85,920 225.77
Indanan Municipality 170.72 3 partly urban 85,220 499.18
Parang Municipality 258.00 2 partly urban 65,019 252.01
Siasi Municipality 192.87 2 partly urban 63,518 329.33
Patikul Municipality 330.04 3 partly urban 56,805 172.12
Old Panamao Municipality 107.57 4 partly urban 49,903 463.91
Maimbung Municipality 77.50 5 partly urban 38,092 491.51
Panglima Estino (New Panamao) Municipality 125.10 5 partly urban 35,263 281.88
Luuk Municipality 313.04 3 partly urban 33,508 107.04

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