Palawan, officially the Province of Palawan, is an island province of the Philippines that is located in the MIMAROPA region or Region 4B. Its capital is Puerto Princesa City, and it is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. The islands of Palawan stretch from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the southwest. It lies between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. The province is named after its largest island, Palawan Island (09°30′N 118°30′E), measuring 450 kilometers (280 mi) long, and 50 kilometers (31 mi) wide.
|Map highlighting Palawan Island|
Palawan consists of 367 barangays in 23 municipalities, and two congressional districts that divide the province into north and south portions. Thirteen municipalities are considered as mainland municipalities, and these are, Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Sofronio Española, Brooke's Point, Rizal, and Bataraza (located south), Puerto Princesa (positioned in the center), and San Vicente, Roxas, Dumaran, El Nido, and Taytay (found in the north). The remaining municipalities are island municipalities of Busuanga, Coron,Linapacan and Culion (forming the Calamianes group of islands), Cuyo, Agutaya and Magsaysay (the Cuyo group of islands), Araceli, Cagayancillo, Balabac and Kalayaan (Spratly Islands). The capital, Puerto Princesa is a highly-urbanized city that governs itself independently from the province, but it is usually grouped with the province for statistical purposes.
Among the many endemic species are the Palawan Peacock-pheasant, Philippine Mouse-deer, Philippine Pangolin and Palawan Bearded Pig. In the forests and grasslands, the air resonates with the songs of more than 200 kinds of birds. Over 600 species of butterflies flutter around the mountains and fields of Palawan, attracted to some 1500 hosts plants found here. Endangered sea turtles nest on white sand beaches. Dugong numbers have fallen seriously, although Palawan still has a larger population than any other part of the country and organizations such as Community Centred Conservation (C3) are working to end the unsustainable use of marine resources in Palawan and in Philippines.
Total forest cover is about 56 percent of the total land area of the province while mangrove forest accounts for 3.35 percent based on the 1998 Landsat imagery. Grasslands dwindled from 19 percent in 1992 to 12.40 percent in 1998. This is an indication of improving soil condition as deteriorating soil is normally invaded by grass species. Brushlands increased to 25 percent of the total land area. Sprawled beneath the seas are nearly 11,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, representing more than 35% of the country's coral reefs.
Palawan, the only Philippine island cited, is rated by National Geographic Traveler magazine as the best island destination in East andSoutheast Asia region in 2007, and the 13th best island in the world having "incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. One of the most biodiverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines... The island has had a Biosphere Reserve status since early 1990s, showing local interest for conservation and sustainable development".
The province was also categorized as "doing well" in the 4th Destination Scorecard survey conducted by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, and Conde Nast Traveler magazine voted its beaches, coves and islets as the tourist destination with the best beaches in Asia. Renowned underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau has described the province as having one of the most beautiful seascapes in the world and Caril Ridley, founder of Palawan Environmental and Marine Studies Center (PEMS) says the Islands of northern Palawan are destined to become a future destination for Asia's growing economic and environmental conferencing.
In 2012, the purple crab was discovered here along with four other species.