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GeographyAlbay has a total land area of , which makes it the 26th smallest province. The province is bordered by the provinces of Camarines Sur to the north and Sorsogon to the south. To the northeast, the province lies along Lagonoy Gulf, which separates it from the province of Catanduanes. To the southwest of the province, is Burias Pass with the island of Burias, Masbate located about offshore.
TopographyThe province is generally mountainous with scattered fertile plains and valleys. On the eastern part of the province is a line of volcanic mountains starting with the northernmost Malinao in Tiwi, followed by Masaraga and Mayon Volcano. Separated by Poliqui Bay is the Pocdol Mountains in the town of Manito. Mount Mayon, standing at around , is the highest elevation in the province. It is the most famous landform in Albay and in the whole Bicol Region. This active volcano falls under the jurisdiction of eight municipalities and cities of Albay, namely Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Legazpi City, Ligao City, Malilipot, Santo Domingo, and Tabaco City. The volcano is divided like slices of a pie when viewed from above. The western coast of the province is mountainous but not as prominent as the eastern range with the highest elevation at around . Among these mountains are Mount Catburawan in Ligao and Mount Pantao in Oas.
PopulationBased on the August 2010 census, Albay has a total population of 1,233,423, which makes it the 20th most populous province in the country. Based on the 2007 census, there are 208,640 households in the province with an average size of 5.22 persons, significantly higher than the national average of 4.99.
Political subdivisionAlbay is subdivided into 15 municipalities and three component cities namely Legazpi, Ligao, Tabaco. Seven of them, Daraga, Camalig, Polangui, Guinobatan, Oas, Libon, Tiwi are classified as 1st class municipalities. The province has three representative districts.
LanguagesBikol is the primary language spoken in Albay, being a part of the Bicol Region. It has many dialects, such as Bicolano Viejo, Daragueño, Legazpeño or Albayano, Oasnon and others. The dialects spoken in the coastal areas of the province are similar to the language spoken in Camarines Sur, while those further inland are similar to each other but differ significantly from the coastal dialect. The majority of the inhabitants also understand Tagalog and English.
Pre-Hispanic periodLong before the Spaniards arrived, Albay had a thriving civilization. Formerly called Ibat, Albay was once ruled by Gat Ibal, an old chief who also founded the old barangay of Sawangan, now the district of Albay and part of the city of Legazpi.
Spanish colonial periodIn July 1569, Luis Enriquez de Guzman, a member of the expedition led by Maestro de Campo Mateo de Saz and Captain Martin de Goiti, led a group which crossed from Burias and Ticao islands and landed on a coastal settlement called Ibalon in what is presently the province of Sorsogon. From this point another expedition was sent to explore the interior and founded the town of Camalig. In 1573, Juan de Salcedo penetrated the Bicol Peninsula from the north as he made it as far south as Libon, establishing the settlement of Santiago de Libon. Jose Maria Peñaranda, a military engineer, was made “corregidor” of the province on May 14, 1834. He constructed public buildings and built roads and bridges. The entire Bicol Peninsula was organized as one province with two divisions, Camarines in the northwest and Ibalon in the southeast. In 1636, the two partidos were separated, and Ibalon became a separate province with Sorsogon as capital. In the 17th century, Moro slave raiders from southern Philippines, ravaged the northeastern coastal areas of the province of Albay. Mayon Volcano, in one of its most violent eruptions, destroyed the five towns surrounding its base on February 1, 1814. This eruption forced the town of Cagsawa to relocate to its present site, Legazpi. A decree was issued by Governor-General Narciso Claveria in 1846 separating Masbate, Ticao and Burias from Albay to form the comandancia of Masbate. Albay was then divided into four districts: Iraya, Cordillera or Tabaco, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.
Philippine revolutionGlicerio Delgado, a condemned insurecto (insurgent), started revolutionary activities in the province. With a headquarter in the mountain of Guinobatan town, he joined the revolutionary government of Albay as a lieutenant in the infantry. A unit of the Philippine Militia was then organized by the Spanish military authorities. Mariano Riosa was appointed major of the Tabaco Zone, which comprised all the towns along the seacoast from Albay to Tiwi, while Anacieto Solano was appointed major for the Iraya Zone, which was made up of the towns from Daraga to Libon. Each town was organized into sections of fifty men under the command of a lieutenant. During the Philippine Revolution on September 22, 1898, the provisional revolutionary government of Albay was formed with Anacieto Solano as provisional president. Major General Vito Belarmino, the appointed military commander, reorganized the Filipino Army in the province.
American colonial periodThe sovereignty of the country was transferred to the United States after the Treaty of Paris (1898). During the Philippine-American War, Brigadier General William Kobbe headed the expedition that landed at the ports of Sorsogon, Bulan and Donsol. From there, the American marched to Legazpi and captured it. Although a civil government was established in Albay on April 26, 1901, Colonel Harry H. Bandhortz, Commanding Officer of the Constabulary in the Bicol Region, said that General Simeon Ola, with a thousand men, continued to defy American authority after the capture of Belarmino in 1901. Ola was later captured with about six hundred of his men.
World War IIDuring the Second World War, the Kimura Detachment of the Japanese Imperial Forces occupied Legazpi on December 12, 1941. The region was defended only by the Philippine Constabulary unit under Major Francisco Sandico. On 1945, Filipino soldiers of the 5th, 51st, 52nd, 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary was around the liberation and recaptured the province of Albay and helped Bicolano guerrilla fighters and American soldiers defeat the Kimura Detachment of the Japanese Imperial Forces and end in World War II.
EconomyAgriculture is the main industry in Albay, which produces crops like coconut, rice, sugar, and abacá. Handicrafts are the major source of rural income. It continuous to provide fairly large share in the small-scale industries of the province. Forestry and paper-making are another source of livelihood. The manufacture of abacá products like Manila hemp, hats, bags, mats, and slippers is one of the main sources of income in the rural areas. Fishing is the main livelihood along both shores of the province. Tourism because of Mayon Volcano, also draws income for Albay.
- By water
- Albay is the region's principal trans-shipment point with its ports: Tabaco International, Legazpi National, Pio Duran Provincial, and the Pantao Regional Port.
- By air
- Traveling to the province by air is served by the Legazpi Airport, the province's gateway from Manila and Cebu City in the Visayas. The larger Bicol International Airport is under construction in the municipality of Daraga, west of Legazpi City.
- By train
- Since March 2012, train service from Manila to Albay and vice versa, has been resumed by the Philippine National Railways. The Mayon Limited is a 10 1/2-hour one-way trip between Manila and Ligao City with the extension to Legazpi under construction (as of May 2012).
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