Surigao del Sur

Surigao del Sur (Surigaonon: Probinsya nan Surigao del Sur; Cebuano: Habagatang Surigao; Tagalog: Timog Surigao), officially the Province of Surigao del Sur, is a province in the Philippines located in the Caraga region in Mindanao. Its capital is Tandag City. Surigao del Sur is situated at the eastern coast of Mindanao and faces the Philippine Sea to the east.

Surigao del Sur
Province of Surigao del Sur
(from top: left to right) Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, White beach in Cagwait, surfer in beach of Lanuza, Hinatuan River, Britania Islands and Surigao del Sur Provincial Capitol.
Shangri-La by the Pacific[1]
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 8°40′N 126°00′E
FoundedJune 19, 1960
Largest cityBislig
  TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
  GovernorAlexander T. Pimentel (PDP–Laban)
  Vice GovernorManuel O. Alameda (Hugpong Surigao Sur)
  LegislatureSurigao del Sur Provincial Board
  Total4,932.70 km2 (1,904.53 sq mi)
  Rank21st out of 81
Highest elevation
(Mount Diuata)
611 m (2,005 ft)
 (2020 census)[3]
  Rank47th out of 81
  Density130/km2 (340/sq mi)
   Rank66th out of 81
  Independent cities0
  Component cities
  DistrictsLegislative districts of Surigao del Sur
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63(0)86
ISO 3166 codePH-SUR
Spoken languages
Income classification1st class


There are two hypotheses on the original meaning of "Surigao" among linguists, depending on the original root word. If the root word was taken to be sulig ("sprout" or "spring up"), then Surigao may have derived from suligao ("spring water"), likely referring to the Surigao River (known as "Suligaw" in Mandaya) that empties at the northern tip of the island of Mindanao.[4][5] Early historical accounts record the name of the river as Suligao, Surigao, or Zurigan.[6]

Another possibility is that it is derived from Visayan surogao or suyogao, meaning "water current". From suyog (also sulog or surog), "current"; cf. Sinulog, Sulu, and Tausug (Suluk).[7]


An old map showing the current territories of the province as part of the historical province of Surigao

In precolonial times, the region of Surigao was inhabited by the Visayan Surigaonon people in the coastal areas, as well as Lumad groups in the interiors like the Mandaya, Mansaka, Mamanwa and Manobo.[8]

During the Spanish Occupation in 1860, six military districts were created in Mindanao, with Surigao and Agusan forming the "East District". In 1870, the district was renamed to "Distrito de Surigao". In 1901, Distrito de Surigao became chartered province. Agusan became an independent province in 1907 during the American era, when it was separated from Surigao.[8]

Independent province

Surigao del Sur was created as the 56th Philippine province on June 19, 1960, through Republic Act 2786, separated from its mother province, Surigao, on September 18, 1960.[9]

At the time of its inception, it was classified as 4th Class province with an annual income of over 300,000.00. Seven years later, because of rapid increase of revenue collection particularly from the logging ventures, it has been reclassified as Ist Class B and in 1980 as Ist Class A with an estimated annual income of around 13,000,000. It has been reclassified as 2nd Class with a revenue adding up to 315,888,300.63.

Recaredo B. Castillo was the appointed first governor and subsequently elected governor while Vicente L. Pimentel was the first elected congressman.

The province was formed with 13 municipalities. Six more were added, raising the number to 19 with Tandag as the capital. Two of its municipalities have been elevated to cities; the first was Bislig City. In 2007, Tandag was granted cityhood but it was nullified via a controversial decision by the Supreme Court a year later. In 2009, Tandag got back its city status after the court reversed its own ruling on December 22, 2009.


Tandag Airport

Surigao del Sur is located along the northeastern coast of Mindanao facing the Philippine Sea between 125°40' to 126°20' east longitudes and 7°55' and 9°20' north latitudes. It is bounded on the northwest by the province of Surigao del Norte, on the southeast by Davao Oriental, on the west and southwest by Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

Situated west is the Diwata Mountain Range, isolating the province from the rest of Mindanao. To the east lies the Philippine Sea. The Mindanao Deep, one of the deepest trenches in the world, is situated a few kilometers east of the coastline.[10][8]

Land area

Ricefield in Cantilan

The land area of the province is 4,932.70 square kilometres (1,904.53 sq mi)[11] representing 27.75 percent of the total land area of Caraga Administrative Region and about 5.14 percent and 1.74 percent of the total land area of Mindanao and Philippines, respectively. The province is elongated in shape, extending from the northeastern portion at Carrascal to the southernmost municipality of Lingig. It is approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) in length and 50 kilometres (31 mi) at its widest point which runs from Cagwait to San Miguel.

Municipal-wise, San Miguel has the biggest land area accounting for 11.31% (558 square kilometers) of the total provincial land area while Bayabas has the smallest constituting only about 2.39% (117.84 square kilometers).[11]

Of the 5,230.50 square kilometres (2,019.51 sq mi) land, only 1,703.72 square kilometres (657.81 sq mi) or 32.22 percent are classified as alienable and disposable (A and D) while 3,583.523 square kilometres (1,383.606 sq mi) or 67.78 percent are forest land. Tagbina has the biggest share of alienable and disposable land with 234.21 square kilometres (90.43 sq mi) or about 56.51 percent of its land area followed by Hinatuan with 202.52 square kilometres (78.19 sq mi) or 63.56 percent of its land area.

The Britania Group of Islands

Of the 3,583.523 square kilometres (1,383.606 sq mi) of forest land, 636.076 square kilometres (245.590 sq mi) are protection forest, 2,582.43 square kilometres (997.08 sq mi) production forest, 12.68 square kilometres (4.90 sq mi) are non-forest agriculture and 352.337 square kilometres (136.038 sq mi) are for non-forest mining. As of today, the province still has vast areas of remaining old growth and mossy forest.


The province falls under Type II climate of the Philippines, characterized by rainfall distributed throughout the year, although there is a distinct rainy season which begins from the month of November and ends in March. However, the climatic behavior of the province for the past few years has shown variations wherein the onset of the rainy seasons no longer occurs on the usual time. Months with low rainfall are from July to October with September as the driest month. Wet months are from November to June with January as the wettest month.

Surigao del Sur is one of the top 20 most vulnerable provinces to climate change in the Philippines.[12]

Climate data for Surigao del Sur
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.6
Average low °C (°F) 23.4
Average rainy days 24 21 20 19 16 16 14 14 13 17 17 21 212
Source: Storm247 [13]

Administrative divisions

Surigao del Sur comprises 17 municipalities and two cities, further subdivided into 309 barangays. There are two congressional districts encompassing all cities and towns.

Political divisions
  •    Provincial capital and component city
  •    Component city
  •   Municipality


Population census of Surigao del Sur
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 42,346    
1918 55,421+1.81%
1939 99,981+2.85%
1948 109,949+1.06%
1960 165,016+3.44%
1970 258,680+4.59%
1975 302,305+3.17%
1980 377,647+4.55%
1990 452,098+1.82%
1995 471,263+0.78%
2000 501,808+1.36%
2007 545,902+1.17%
2010 561,219+1.01%
2015 592,250+1.03%
2020 642,255+1.61%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[14][15][16]

The population of Surigao del Sur in the 2020 census was 642,255 people,[3] with a density of 130 inhabitants per square kilometre or 340 inhabitants per square mile.

The province is home to the Kamayo and Agusan people. Their dances are showcased in the local festival, "Sirong Festival", held especially during the town fiesta of Cantilan. The Sirong Festival depicts the early Christianization of the early Cantilan inhabitants where the natives tried to defend their land against Visayan invaders.

The indigenous people of the province were largely Christianized during the early times of the Spanish conquest.


The Surigaonon and Tandaganon languages are spoken in most parts of Surigao del Sur (except in Bislig and the towns of Barobo, Hinatuan, Lingig and Tagbina, where most of the inhabitants speak Cebuano and their native Kamayo, a different language but one distantly related to Surigaonon, is spoken by the rest of the population), with the Cantilangnon dialect, a northern variety of Surigaonon that is very much similar to the dialect of Surigaonon as spoken in Surigao del Norte, being spoken mostly in the five northern municipalities of the province, namely Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (or the municipal cluster called Carcanmadcarlan); these municipalities were once under a single Municipality of Cantilan before December 10, 1918.

Tagalog and English are also widely spoken throughout the province and used as the primary languages of education, business, and administration.


Coastal fishing in Cantilan

Surigao del Sur is one of the suppliers of rice, bananas and other tropical fruits. Copper, chromite and silver are also found here. Marine and aquaculture are abundant in the province, being primary livelihoods of the inhabitants as the province is well known for producing seafood and sea by-products.

Mineral resources

Surigao del Sur is endowed with metallic minerals such as copper, gold, chromite, cobalt, nickel and lead zinc, as well as non-metallic (limestone, coal and feldspar, clay diatomite/bentomite and coarse/fine aggregates). There are small and large scale mining activities in the province. Corporations operating in a large scale are the Marc Ventures Mining Development Corporation at Carrascal and Cantilan, operating in an area of 4,799 hectares (47.99 km2) within the Diwata Mountain Range.[23][24] The [TP Construction and Mining Corporation, also in Carrascal, focuses on gold and nickel mining in an area of 35.64 square kilometres (13.76 sq mi) and 48.6916 square kilometres (18.80 sq mi), respectively. The Carac-an Development Corporation, also in Carrascal, has an area of 506.3764 square kilometres (195.51 sq mi). Small scale mining activities are found in the municipalities of Barobo, Carmen and San Miguel.


Bislig's main tourist attraction is the Tinuy-an Falls,[25] known as the little "Niagara Falls of the Philippines". It is a white water curtain that flows in three levels about 55 metres (180 ft) high and 95 metres (312 ft) wide.[26] Its unique natural formation once appeared in the International Travel Magazine. It is also known as the widest waterfall in the Philippines.

Surfing in Surigao del Sur is widely known and has been one of the local tourist attractions. This extreme sport is often practiced in Cantilan and Lanuza.[27] Skimboarding is also found in several municipalities, attracting tourists.

See also


  2. "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  3. Census of Population (2020). Table B - Population and Annual Growth Rates by Province, City, and Municipality - By Region. PSA. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  4. Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care, Department of Health; University of the Philippines Manila; University of the Philippines Mindanao (2000). "Ethnomedical documentation of and community health education for selected Philippine ethnolinguistic groups: the Mandaya people of Davao Oriental, Philippines" (PDF). Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  5. Benito Francia y Ponce de Leon; Julián González Parrado (1898). La Islas Filipinas. Mindanao, Volume 1. Subinspección de Infantería. p. 197.
  6. Pio A. De Pazos y Vela-Hidalgo, ed. (1879). Jolo, Relato Historico-Militar: Desde Su Descubrimiento Por Los Espanoles en 1578 A Nuestros Dias (1879). Imprenta y Estereotipia de Polo.
  7. Paredes, Francis Tom; Paredes, Sheila (2017). The Monosyllabic root -ao in Mindanao Languages. 8th Annual In-house Review of the Research Office of Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology. Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology.
  8. Lancion, Jr., Conrado M.; cartography by de Guzman, Rey (1995). "The Provinces; Surigao del Sur". Fast Facts about Philippine Provinces (The 2000 Millenium ed.). Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines: Tahanan Books. p. 156. ISBN 971-630-037-9. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  9. "Republic Act No. 2786 - An Act to Create the Provinces of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. June 19, 1960. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  10. "Philippine Provincial Profile; Surigao del Sur". Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  11. "Province: Surigao del Sur". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  12. "About Caraga". National Economic and Development Authority Caraga. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  13. "Weather forecast for Surigao del Sur, Philippines". Bergen, NO: StormGeo AS. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  14. Census of Population (2015). Highlights of the Philippine Population 2015 Census of Population. PSA. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  15. Census of Population and Housing (2010). Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities (PDF). NSO. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  16. Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Caraga". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  17. "Poverty incidence (PI):". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  18.; publication date: 29 November 2005; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  19.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  20.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  21.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  22.; publication date: 4 June 2020; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  23. "Marcventure's mining operations in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines". Environmental Justice Atlas. Retrieved April 18, 2016. On July 1, 1993, Marcventure Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) received a mining permit covering 4,799ha, located in the Diwata Mountain Range, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
  24. Galvez, James Konstantin (April 24, 2014). "DENR shuts down Surigao del Sur mining firm". The Manila Times. Retrieved April 18, 2016. MMDC, a subsidiary of publicly listed Marcventures Holdings Inc., is engaged in nickel production in Surigao del Sur. The company holds a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) for a 4,799- hectare tenement located in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
  25. Crismundo, Mike (September 22, 2015). "Caraga tourist arrivals to reach 2M by end of 2015". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved April 18, 2016. Frequently visited by this huge volume of tourists are the famous "Cloud 9" and amazing beach resorts and islets in Siargao Island, the Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande Island in Socorro town, the game fishing hub in Pilar, all in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, the Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City and Balanghai in Butuan City.
  26. Alcantara, Jojie (February 11, 2005). "Tinuy-an Falls: Our little Niagara". Sun.Star Davao. Archived from the original on April 28, 2005. Retrieved April 18, 2016. Tinuy-an is a three-tiered falls (there is a fourth but cannot be seen from view) about 55 meters high and a breathtaking width of 95 meters, supposedly the widest in the country.
  27. Mascariñas, Erwin (November 11, 2012). "LGU wants to make Cantilan a surfing destination". MindaNews. Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
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