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Sulu is a province in the Philippines situated in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) occupying the Sulu Archipelago and the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in central Mindanao. Its capital is the Municipality of Jolo.

The province has a land area of 3,436.99 square kilometers or 1,327.03 square miles. Its population as determined by the 2015 Census was 824,731. This represented 21.81% of the total population of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 3.42% of the overall population of the Mindanao island group, or 0.82% of the entire population of the Philippines. Based on these figures, the population density is computed at 240 inhabitants per square kilometer or 621 inhabitants per square mile.



The Province of Sulu (Luaph Sug – land of the current) traces its rich histoprical origin to the coming of Islam to the Philippines. 

Sulu’s history is shaped by the arrival of Muslim missionaries, trxders, scholoars, and travellers foremost of which was Karim-ul Makhdum, an Arab missionary and learned A JUDGE WHO ESTABLSIHED A STRONG Islamic foundation for governance and life in whar once the principality of Buansa Sumatra and the reign of Rajah Baguinda.

The marriage of Rajah Baguinda’s daughter Paramisuli to the Arabian scholar Sayid Abubakar saw the birth of the Sultanate of Sulu.  Abubakar, the first Sultan, brought Sulu, the Zambonaga Peninsula, Palawan, and Basilan under the Sultanate.  Sabah followed in 1704 in reconition of the Sultans help in ending the long-running Brunei civil war. 

The coming of Spanish colonization, Christianity, and a neo political sytem sparked fierce tesistance in Sulu and started the Moro wars of 1578-1899.  The ceding of the Philippines to the United States by Spain ended 23 year’s (1876-1899) of Spanish occupation and ushered in the American era.  The Bates agreements signed Sultan Jamalul Kuiram II and Brigadier General John Bates marked the start to the declined of the Sultanate.  In March 1915, the Sultan gave his temporal powers in the Carpenter agreement.  This agreement ended all opposition the American government of Gov. Frank W. Carpenter.

With the enactment by the U.S. Congress of the Jones Law (Philippine Autonomy Law) in 1916, ultimate Philippine independence was guaranteed and the Filipinization of public administration began.  Sulu, however, had an appointed American Governor General in Manila had a say in Sulu affairs.

But one thing was evident; centuries of colonial presence could not erase the legacy of local governance left by Rajah Baguinda, a legacy that shapes Sulu politics to this day.

The word Sulu was derived and written before as Suluk or Soolook.  The Malayos (Malays, Malaysians) have always been using the term “Orang Suluk” to refer to the people of the area, which correspond to the present term Tausug.  Suluk was transformed into Sug.  It is very common among Tausugs to drop the letter “I” in a word or syllable, especially during snappy conversion.  On the other hand, the letters k and g at the end of the word can easily be mistaken for each depending upon the accuracy of the speaker’s tongue, the keenness of the listener’s ears and the distance one is from the other.  Suk could have been interchangeably used with Sug but the latter permanently took an irreversible hold on some people psyche and lingual habit.  By derivation therefore, Suluk and Suk (Sug) should assume the same meaning, and finally landed to the word Sulu.

Sulu became a province on March 10, 1917 through Commonwealth Act No. 27-11.  Sulu celebrates a special day-the foundation of local governance and public administration on every September 18 – per Provincial Ordinance No. 01 series of 1993 proudly signifying that local government in Sulu antedates similar system in the country.


The dominant ethnic group in the Sulu archipelago because of their political and religious institutions, the Tausug occupy Jolo, Indanan, Siasi, and Patikul in Sulu (BARMM). There are also scattered settlements in Zamboanga del Sur and Cotabato, and all the way to Malaysia, which has an estimated Tausug population of more than 110,000.

Tausug is a combination of tau (person) and suug (the old name of Jolo Island). The present generation of Tausugs are believed to be descended from the different ethnic groups that had migrated to the Sulu archipelago.

The Tausug language is adopted from the vocabulary of Tagimaha, in whose locality the Sultan of Sulu lived and established Buansa, the capital of the Sultunate. They have two dialects: parianum and gimbahanun. Parianum is spoken by the people living along the coasts of Jolo and gimbahanun, by those living in the interior part.