Sulu Archipelago


Sulu Archipelago
an island group in the SW Philippines, separating the Sulawesi Sea from the Sulu Sea. 555,239; 1086 sq. mi. (2813 sq. km). Cap.: Jolo.

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Volcanic and coral archipelago, southwestern Philippines, between Mindanao and Borneo.

A double island chain, it extends 170 mi (270 km) and includes about 400 named islands and more than 500 unnamed ones; they cover an area of 1,038 sq mi (2,688 sq km). The islanders were converted to Islam by Abu Bakr in the mid-15th century. The Spanish tried, at first unsuccessfully, to subdue the inhabitants, whom they called Moros. The islands finally became a Spanish protectorate in the 19th century, and in 1899 came under U.S. authority. The archipelago was ceded to the Philippines in 1940. The islands provide a haven for smugglers and pirates.

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 archipelago comprising hundreds of volcanic and coral islands and numerous rocks and reefs in the southwestern Philippines. A double island chain, it extends 170 miles (270 km) southwest from Basilan Island off southwestern Mindanao and ends near the eastern shores of Sabah (East Malaysia). The islands, the most important of which are Jolo, Tawitawi, Sanga Sanga, Sibutu, Siasi, and Cayayan Sulu, form a rampart between the Sulu (northwest) and Celebes (southeast) seas. The islands are thickly forested, and their fertile soils support some rice, cassava, coconuts, and fruit. Marine-based activities, however, are the economic mainstay.

      The Sulu “sea world” has had a tempestuous history. Its people have been characterized by a fierce sense of cultural and political independence. The islanders were converted to the Muslim faith by the missionary adventurer Abu Bakr in the mid-15th century. He married a local princess, inherited the title of sultan, and turned his island principality into a regional Muslim state. The Spaniards never subdued the inhabitants, whom they called Moros (Moro); they were a fiercely independent people whose culture was a meeting ground for sea traders, shell and coral producers, fishermen, pirates, and slave traders. The Moros had extensive regional contacts and raided areas as far away as Malaysia and northern Luzon.

      The Moros were subjugated after a series of U.S. campaigns (1899–1913), during which John J. Pershing (later commander in chief of the U.S. forces in World War I) first distinguished himself as an officer. The archipelago was treated as a separate unit under the U.S. administration, and civil government came into force in 1914. In March 1915 the reigning sultan abdicated his civil powers, retaining only his rights as head of the Islamic faith, but sporadic fighting continued between government forces and outlaw bands. In 1940 the sultan ceded the Sulus to the Philippines, but as recently as 1962 he claimed sovereignty over the Malaysian state of Sabah (northern Borneo).

      Resistance to civil authority has continued in the form of illegal trade and piracy. The islands, with their myriad coves and hidden passages, are a haven for smugglers, who transport goods in small craft from Sabah to Luzon and Mindanao.

      The Sulu islands' culture is primarily one of the sea; only Jolo has a significant agricultural economy. There are several pearl beds in the group, and marine resources include button shell, mother-of-pearl, coral, shark fins, bêche-de-mer (sea cucumbers), turtle shells, turtle eggs, and sponges. The Turtle Islands in the west are the centre of turtle fisheries. This marine wealth has not been tapped on an organized basis and remains a subsistence economic activity, usually supplemented by small-scale agriculture. Rice must be imported. There are no significant mineral resources, and forestry is not developed.

      The largest ethnic groups are the Tau Sug, who live on the coast in pile-built villages, and the Samal, who formerly lived on boats or chose a shoreline environment but who have increasingly settled inland. The largest settlements are Jolo (the chief port), Siasi, Sitangkai, and Talipaw (Jolo island). Pop. (2000) 941,985.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sulu Archipelago — [so͞o′lo͞o] group of islands in the Philippines, southwest of Mindanao: 1,038 sq mi (2,688 sq km) …   English World dictionary

  • Sulu Archipelago — Infobox Islands name = Sulu Archipelago image caption = Map of the Philippines; the bottom left shows the location of the Visayas native name = Sulu native name link = Tausug language location = South East Asia archipelago = Philippines area =… …   Wikipedia

  • Sulu Archipelago — /sulu akəˈpɛləgoʊ/ (say soohlooh ahkuh peluhgoh) noun an island group in the south west Philippine Islands, separating the Celebes Sea from the Sulu Sea, an arm of the Pacific north east of Borneo. 2813 km2 …   Australian English dictionary

  • Sulu Archipelago — an island group in the SW Philippines, separating the Sulawesi Sea from the Sulu Sea. 555,239; 1086 sq. mi. (2813 sq. km). Cap.: Jolo …   Useful english dictionary

  • Sulu Archipelago — geographical name archipelago SW Philippines SW of Mindanao …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Sulu Archipelago — isl. group, SW Philippines; 1,086 sq. mi …   Webster's Gazetteer

  • Sulu Archipelago — Su′lu Archipel′ago [[t]ˈsu lu[/t]] n. geg an island group in the SW Philippines, extending SW from Mindanao to Borneo. 555,239; 1086 sq. mi. (2813 sq. km) …   From formal English to slang

  • Sulu — /ˈsulu/ (say soohlooh) noun 1. a Muslim people living mainly in the Sulu Archipelago. 2. (plural Sulu or Sulus) a member of this people. –adjective 3. of or relating to this people. {Malay} …   Australian English dictionary

  • Sulu — Su*lu , n. [Malay Suluk.] A member of the most prominent tribe of the Moro tribes, occupying the Sulu Archipelago; also, their language. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sulu — For the Star Trek character, see Hikaru Sulu. For the sultanate, see Sultanate of Sulu. For the archipelago, see Sulu Archipelago. Infobox Philippine province name = Sulu sealfile = Ph seal sulu.png region = Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao… …   Wikipedia


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