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Last Updated:
11/10/98 08:17:25 AM

(MANILA TIME)

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Province of Northern Samar
An overview

On the northernmost tip of Eastern Visayas is the province of Morthern Samar, perhaps one of the least explored and exploited provinces in the country today. The province has its roots to the settlements established by the Jesuits between 1599 to 1605 whoc established a mission-residence in what is now known as Palapag. In 1768, the Jesuits were expelled from Samar and replaced by the Franciscans. The settlement thrived amidst Muslim raids coming from the southern island of Mindanao. The San Bernardino Strait to the north of the province was a strategic waterway for the Spanish galleons plying the Manila-Acapulco route.

Northern Samar officially became a province after a plebiscite ratified Republic Act 4221 on November 9, 1965. This is the law that divided the island of Samar into the three provinces that exist today.

The province has an area of 3,498 sq. km. ranking 35th in size among the 74 provinces in the country and accounting for some 1.2 percent of the country's total land area. About 52 percent of the area is covered by forests. Population is placed at 380,398, 44 percent of which belong to the 1-14 age group. A variant of the Waray dialect is primarily spoken with English and Pilipino well understood among the populace. A minority (2.6%) speak Kapul, a dialect similar to the Muslim language in Mindanao and believed to be unique to the island of a similar name located a few kilometers off the main island.

The seat of government in in the capital town of Catarman. Northern Samar is classified as a second class province. This classification has caused some controversy as national and regional indicators of economic performance does not seem to tally. Northern Samar has been included into the "Club 20" -- the 20 most impoverished provinces in the Philippines.

The towns of San Isidro and Allen serve as the main links to Luzon for land transport coming from the Visayas and Mindanao. Recently, regular flights plying the Catarman-Manila route were stopped. It is not likely to be resumed soon.

Northern Samar is known for its unspoilt, almost unexplored, natural and historical attractions. Remnants of churches, lighthouses and other structures spanning several centuries and deeply reflecting the history of the country dot the land. Fantastic rock formations and pristine, abandoned beaches are some of the best places to go in this province.

For more information about Northern Samar, please visit the links section.

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