The province of Palawan is located west of the main Philippine chain of islands, lying in 7ᴼ47' and 12ᴼ22' north latitude and 117ᴼ00' and 119ᴼ51' east longitude. The province is the country's southwest frontier with Malaysia and forms a link between the Philippines and East Indies. It comprises of 1,769 islands and islets with a total land area of 1,489,655 hectares occupying 5% of the national territory. It is considered the largest province in the country.

The province stretches 650 kilometers from tip to tip reclining between Mindoro Island and North Borneo and is approximately 240 kilometers southwest of Manila. It is bounded by the South China Sea to the northwest and by the Sulu Sea to the east. Its provincial limits commence with Busuanga Island which is 45 nautical miles from Mindoro to the north, the Cuyo group of islands in the northeast, Cagayancillo in the east and Spratly islands in the west. It ends with Balabac farthest south. The southernmost tip of Balabac, the Mangsee Island, is 48.8 nautical miles from Sabah in North Borneo.

The province is subdivided into 12 municipalities in the mainland and 12 island municipalities, 1 city and 432 barangays. The city of Puerto Princesa, the province capital is the chief seaport on the East coast and the center of trade, commerce and education.


The topography of Palawan is characterized by tall mountain ranges running through the entire central length bisecting the province into two areas - the east and the west coast. The mountain ranges have an average elevation of approximately 1,100 meters. The highest elevation is 2,086 meters of Mt. Mantalingahan in Rizal-Bataraza area, followed by Mt. Gantung in Bataraza with 1,788 meters and Cleopatra's Needle in Puerto Princesa City with 1,585 meters above sea level.

The province's 1,959 kilometers of irregular coastline offer excellent harbors. However, coral reefs along the shoreline especially along its western and northwestern coastline make inshore navigation risky.

Land Classification

Lands in the province are classified as Alienable and Disposal (A&D) which refers to refers those lands of the public domain which have been the subject of the present system of classification and declared as not needed for forest purposes(AO 66 dated July 17, 1990) and other are declared as Forest land. Forest lands are sub-classified as forest reserve, timberland, national parks game refuge and bird sanctuary and civil reservation.


Total Land Area                                                :         1,489,626 hectares

Classified A & D                                                :         453,700 hectares

Classified Forest Lands                                     :         1,035,926 hectares

                Established Forest Reserve                    :         71,394 hectares

                Established Timberland                         :         171,832 hectares

               National parks Game Refuge & Bird Sanctuary    :     767,320 hectares


               Civil Reservation                                           :         25,380 hectares


Climate and Rainfall

The province enjoys two types of climate: type I and type II climates. Type I climate is characterized by 6 months dry and 6 months wet, occurs in the extreme north and south sections and in the entire northwest coast. Type II prevails in the rest of the province and is characterized by a short dry season of 1 to 3 months and no pronounced rainy period during the rest of the year.

The northern and southern extremities and the western portion of the province including Culion, Cuyo, Coron and Linapacan receive an annual average rainfall of 2,920 millimeters. The eastern region from Puerto Princesa to Brooke's Point has an average of only 1,672 millimeters of the rainfall annually. The southern portion of the province is practically free from typhoons but the northern part has persistent gales and torrential rains during the months of July and August. Sea travel is most favorable from April to June when the sea is calm on both the eastern and western coasts of the province.

Soil Type and Fertility

Palawan soils are classified into three major groups: (1) the soils of the plains or lowlands which are usually alluvial and trace its origin from the adjoining uplands. These have generally poor internal drainage owing to the flat or level topography. Soils of this type cover an area of approximately 118,350 hectares or only eight percent (8.0%) of the total area of the province; (2) soils of the upland area are usually those that were formed from underlying bedrocks. Upland soils generally have rolling topography with excessive external drainage. This covers an area of about 433,550 hectares or 29% of the province's total land area; (3) beach-sand which covers about 1% of the provincial land area. Other non-agricultural areas characterized by steep and rugged topography belongs the third type.

Mineral Resources

Palawan is rich in mineral resources such as chrome, nickel, copper, silica, marble, quicksilver, manganese, cement, limestone, barite, feldspar, sand, gravel, washed pebbles and guano. However, only few of these mineral deposits are being mined. The nickel reserve in the province is one of the biggest in Luzon. Notwithstanding the oil and natural gas being exploited and extracted from offshore of Palawan which currently supplies the power plants in Luzon.

Marine Resources


Considering that Palawan is an island province, it is endowned with rich fishing grounds for commercial and deep-sea fishing. The irregular coastline resulting in numerous coves and bays are rich grounds for municipal or coastal fishing. The best sources of fishers are the Malampaya sound, Sulu sea, Honda bay and Bacuit bay.



Due to Palawan’s uniqueness, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), declared it as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve” owing to its vast land area and topography divided by tall mountain ranges such as Mt. Mantalingahan, Mt. Gantung in the southern part and Cleopatra’s Needle in the northern part of the province with an average elevation of approximately 1,100 meters. Palawan is also the home of three (3) major indigenous communities namely:  Batak which can be located in the central and northern part, Tagbanua in the central, northern and southern part and Pala’wan in the southern part of the province. 

Within its territory, the Tubbataha Reef in the municipality of Cagayancillo was listed as a World Heritage Site by the World Conservation Union in 1994. And later on, the Puerto Princesa  Subterranean National Park in the City of Puerto Princesa was also declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

In 1992, the Philippine Legislature passed, and President Corazon Aquino signed into law, the Republic Act (RA) no 7 611 adopting the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan and creating the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to supervise its implementation under the Office of the Philippine President. 

Through the SEP, an Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) within its terrestrial and coastal marine areas shall be established delineating the Province into core zones, buffer zones (restricted use, controlled and traditional use areas), tribal ancestral lands and the multiple use areas. The ECAN provides the backdrop in defining the resource management units within the Province, that is to say catchment or watershed, small island or fishing ground. 

Agriculture and fisheries are the major economic activities in the Province. The existence of offshore oil and natural gas adds benefits to the province’s economy. Tourism is booming in major parts of the province, and mineral extraction for chromite and nickel are also being practised in southern part of the province.


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