Origin of Name and Brief History
The name of the province came from two native words - basi - meaning iron and lan - meaning trail or way. Put together, Basilan meant "The Iron Trail". The island's early settlers were the Orang Dampuans who were the ancestors of the present Yakans. The legendary Sultan Kudarat once maintained a stronghold in the town of Lamitan until the Spaniards conquered it in 1637. A few years later, the Jesuit missionaries alit on Basilan shores. 
When Zamboanga became a chartered city in 1936, the island of Basilan was included in its jurisdiction. On July 1, 1948, Basilan came into its own when it became a separate city through Republic Act No. 288. With the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 356 on December 27, 1973, Basilan City was converted into a province.

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Basilan has an aggregate territorial jurisdiction of 1,372.2 square kilometers with the province's volcanic and hilly mainland area placed at 124,892 hectares. It includes 61 smaller islands. It is separated from the Mindanao mainland by a strait 17 miles wide at its narrowest point. From Zamboanga City, all it takes is a ferry ride (4 times a day) ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to Isabela or Lamitan. Basilan has one congressional district, 7 municipalities and 261 barangays.

Languages/Dialects Spoken
About 39.7 percent of the people of Basilan speak Yakan; 23.3 percent, Tausug; 13.5 percent, Chavacano; and 8.9 percent each, Samal and Cebuano.

Basilan's climate features evenly distributed rainfall and temperature during the year. No specific dry or wet seasons can be delineated. It is well outside the typhoon belt and winds are never destructive.

Ethnic Distinction
Basilan is the homeland of the Yakans. The early settlers of Basilan, as in Jolo and the nearby islands, inhabited the coastal region up to the 14th century when Mohammedans from Sumatra and Borneo invaded the Sulu Archipelago and converted the natives to Islam. The periodic arrivals of these invaders forced the natives inland from the coasts. They were, nevertheless, converted to and professed the Islamic faith. The settlers remained in Basilan and retained their way of life and dialect and are known as the native Yakans who can be found only in Basilan and in nearby islands. The Yakans are a tribe of Filipinos, who, at least one author said, are of "Papuan descent." They wear colorful tight-fitting breeches and blouses, are of medium complexion, and have high-bridged noses and tall statute. They are peace-loving (though bounds of loyalty and oppression can drive them to take up arms), are known for their weaving prowess that produces fabric of colorful intricate geometric patterns, as well as for their elaborate weddings and festivals (such as the Lami-lamihan). They grow rice, corn, coconuts and root crops upland.

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