Infobox Islands
name = Visayas
(Visayan Islands)

image caption = Map of the Philippines; the center shows the location of the Visayas
native name = Kabisaya'an
native name link = Visayan languages
location = South East Asia
archipelago = Philippines
area = 58,295 km
major islands = Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, Samar
highest mount = Kanlaon
elevation = m to ft|2435|abbrv=yes
country = Philippines
country admin divisions title = Regions
country admin divisions = Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas
country largest city = Cebu
country largest city area = 998 km²
population = 17.3 million
population as of = 2005
density = 297
ethnic groups = Visayans (Aklanon, Boholano/Bol-anon, Caluyanon, Capiznon, Cebuano, Eskaya, Hiligaynon, Karay-a, Masbateño, Porohanon, Romblomanon, Waray), Ati

Visayas (Visayan: Kabisay-an) is one of the three island groups in the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea. Its inhabitants are referred to as the Visayans.

The major islands are:


Culturally it may also include the following whose inhabitants identify as Visayan:


Up to now the history of the Visayas before the arrival of the Spanish remains a mystery. The first known mention of the Visayas in history is in the 12th century, when the region is thought to have been ruled by the empire of Srivijaya.

Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with the various Javanese and Malay kingdoms since the locals of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using Malay when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.

After Magellan's expedition, the Spanish became interested with the archipelago and sent Ruy López de Villalobos and Miguel López de Legazpi in 1543 and 1565, respectively, to explore and colonize the islands.

At first, the Visayans accepted this colonization and many began converting to Christianity and started to accept the Santo Niño as their patron. However, the situation soon turned sour and revolutions such as those of Francisco Dagohoy began to emerge.

The Spanish weren't the only problems of the Visayans. Moros are thought to have invaded various Visayan islands during this era.

During the Philippine Revolution, Visayans were active participants. The island of Negros itself initiated their own revolution.

After Philippine independence, Visayans continued to participate in Philippine politics with the presidents coming from the Visayas.

On May 23, 2005, Palawan was transferred to Region VI (Western Visayas) by Executive Order 429. [cite web
title=Executive order No. 429
author=President of the Philippines
publisher=Office of the Press Secretary
] The Department of the Interior and Local Government announced in June 2005 that the transfer had been completed. [cite press release
title = Palawan, Puerto Princesa Transfer to Region VI
publisher =Government of the Philippines - News
date =3 June 2005
url =
accessdate =2007-05-18
] However, Palaweños criticized the move, citing a lack of consultation, with most residents in Puerto Princesa City and all municipalities but one preferring to stay with Region IV-B. Consequently, Administrative Order No. 129 was issued on August 19, 2005 to address this backlash. This Order directed the abeyance of Executive Order 429 pending the approval of an implementation plan for the orderly transfer of Palawan from Region IV-B to Region VI.cite web
title=Administrative Order No. 129
date=August 19, 2005
author=President of the Philippines
publisher=Office of the Press Secretary
] Hence, Palawan is currently (as of May 2007) still part of Region IV-B.

Administrative divisions

s.The major islands, from west to east: Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar] Administratively, Visayas is divided into 3 regions, namely Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Each region is headed by a Regional Director which is elected from a pool of governors from the different provinces in each region.

However, it is made up of 16 provinces. The Visayas comprises 16 provinces, each headed by a Governor. A governor is elected by popular vote and can serve at the maximum of three terms of three years each.

As for representation in the Philippine Congress, the Visayas is represented by 44 Congressmen elected the same way as the Governors.

Western Visayas (Region VI)

Western Visayas consists of the islands of Panay and the western half of Negros. The regional center is Iloilo City. Its provinces are:
* Aklan
* Antique
* Capiz
* Guimaras
* Iloilo
* Negros Occidental

Central Visayas (Region VII)

Central Visayas includes the islands of Cebu and Bohol, and the eastern half of Negros. The regional center is Cebu City. Its provinces are:
* Bohol
* Cebu
* Negros Oriental
* Siquijor

Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)

Eastern Visayas consists of the islands of Leyte and Samar. The regional center is Tacloban City. Its provinces are:
* Biliran
* Leyte
* Southern Leyte
* Eastern Samar
* Northern Samar
* Samar



There are legends, which are compiled in the book "Maragtas", which tell the story of ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw from Borneo to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers are believed to be the ancestors of the Visayan people. The arrival is celebrated in the Festivals of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan and Binirayan in San Jose, Antique. While these are stories, they are believed by some to be based on actual facts and events which were compiled into a 1907 book by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro. This belief has been debunked, however, by Philippine historian William Scott. [Harvnb|Scott|1984|pp=81-103.]

Panay also boasts as its oldest and longest epic, the Hinilawod.


A contemporary theory based on a study of genetic markers in present-day populations that Austronesian migrants from Taiwan populated Luzon and headed south to the Visayas, Borneo, modern day Indonesia, then to the Pacific islands to the east. [cite journal | author=Cristian Capelli "et al." | title=A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian-Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania | journal=American Journal of Human Genetics | year=2001 | volume=68 | issue= | pages= 432–443 | url= | doi=10.1086/318205 ] The study, though, may not explain interisland migrations, which are also possible, such as the Tagalog migration to Luzon.

ee also

* Regions of the Philippines
* Provinces of the Philippines
* Luzon
* Mindanao



first=William Henry
authorlink=William Henry Scott (historian)
title=Prehispanic Source Materials for the study of Philippine History
publisher=New Day Publishers

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