Sulu Archipelago

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The Sulu Archipelago is a chain of islands in the southwestern Philippines. This archipelago is considered to be part of the Moroland by the local rebel independence movement.

The archipelago is not, as is often supposed, the remains of a land bridge between Borneo and the Philippines. Rather, it is the exposed edge of small submarine ridges produced by techtonic tilting of the sea bottom [1][2] Basilan, Jolo, and other islands in the group are extinct volcanic cones rising from the southernmost ridge. Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost island of the group, has a serpentine basement-complex core with a limestone covering.[2] This island chain is an important migration route for birds.

The largest cities or towns in the area are on Maimbung and Jolo of the Sulu Archipelago, plus the larger island of Palawan to its north, the coastal regions of the westward-extending Zamboanga Peninsula of Mindanao, and the northern part of the island of Borneo were formerly parts of the thalassocratic Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

The archipelago is the home of the indigenous Tausug people; various group of Samal (or Sama) people including the semi-nomadic Badjaw; the land-based Sama; the related Yakan people; and the Jama Mapun people. The Tausug language is spoken widely in the Sulu Archipelago as both first and second languages throughout these islands. The Yakan language is spoken mainly in Basilan Island. Numerous dialects of Sinama are spoken throughout the archipelago, from the Tawi-Tawi Island group, to the Mapun island group (Mapun), to the coast of Mindanao and beyond.

Excavations in the area of "Bolobok Cave" on Sanga-Sanga Island, Tawi-Tawi Province, have shown the remains of humans dwelling there about 4,000 years ago.[citation needed]



The grip of the Spanish Empire on the large islands of Mindanao and Palawan, and the smaller islands to their south was always tenuous. This entire area was generally under control of the Moslem Royal Sultanate of Sulu, which was centered in northern Borneo, and which continually tried to extend the influence of Islam over the southwestern Philippines. Although as early as the 16th century, Spanish military and naval expeditions against this Sultanate were launched, the Spanish rule over the Sulu Archipelago was generally limited to the extraction of annual tributes by the sultans to the Spanish Empire, monstly in the form of payments in the form of large numbers of the pearls that are a product of the shallow seas of this region.

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