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Island Group Luzon
Region Central Luzon
Capital Iba
Area 3,830.83 km²
Cities 1
Municipalities 13
- Total 493,085
- Density/km² 128.71
Income class 2
Location in the Philippines:


Zambales is one of the provinces of the Philippines and is located in Central Luzon region. It is subdivided into 13 municipalities and 1 highly urbanized city which is Olongapo. Iba is the provincial capital. Zambales is the second largest among the seven provinces of Central Luzon. The province borders Pangasinan to the north, Tarlac and Pampanga to the east, and Bataan to the south.

Zambales lies on the western shores of Luzon Island, between the Zambales Mountains and the South China Sea. The mountain range in the eastern part of the province occupies about 60% of its total land area. Subic Bay provides a natural harbor, and was chosen as the location of an American Naval Base. Mount Pinatubo, which lies in the intersection of the boundaries between Zambales, Pampanga and Tarlac, was once considered dormant but erupted violently in 1991. Zambales has two pronounced seasons: dry from October to June, and wet from July to September.

The province’s name was derived from the word zambal, which is a Hispanized term for Sambali. Another version states that the name came from the word samba, meaning worship, because the Spaniards supposedly found the native inhabitants to be worshiping the spirits of their ancestors. Zambales was first explored by the Spanish in 1572, led by Juan de Salcedo. Among the earliest towns founded were Masinloc, Iba and Santa Cruz.

The Aetas of Mount Pinatubo were the earliest inhabitants of Zambales. They were later displaced by the Sambal, Austronesian people after whom the province was named. The four largest ethnic groups in Zambales are the Sambals, Tagalogs, Ilocanos and Kapampangans. However, they may overlap with one another due to intermarriage and other factors. Sambal, Tagalong and Ilocano are the three main languages of Zambales. A large percentage of the population speaks and understands English to varying degrees of fluency.

The province is approximately a 3 to 4 hour drive from Manila and is a popular tourist destination. Zambales hosts 173 kilometers of beaches, with coral reefs, dive spots, surfing areas, hotels and day-use beach huts. Various festivals are celebrated in the province. The “Fiesta Poon Bato” is a religious festival held every January and attracts over half a million people each year. The “Mango Festival” is held in the provincial capital of Iba every April and the “Domorokdok Festival” is held each May in Botolan. These festivals include street dancing, agricultural shows and competitions. The Capones Island in Barrio Pundaquit in San Antonio is home to a Spanish Light House built during 1800s.

The most populous cities and municipalities in Zambales are:

City/Municipality City class Area
in km²
Urbanisation Population
Total Density/km²
Olongapo City Highly Urbanized City 185.00 1 urban 227,270 1,228.49
Subic Municipality 287.16 1 partly urban 77,118 268.55
Santa Cruz Municipality 438.46 1 partly urban 52,202 119.06
Botolan Municipality 735.28 1 partly urban 51,675 70.28
Iba Municipality 153.38 2 partly urban 44,344 289.11
Castillejos Municipality 92.99 3 partly urban 42,910 461.45
Masinloc Municipality 331.50 1 partly urban 40,603 122.48
San Antonio Municipality 188.12 2 partly urban 32,494 172.73
Palauig Municipality 310.00 3 partly urban 30,747 99.18
San Marcelino Municipality 416.86 1 partly urban 29,052 69.69

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