Cotabato, chartered city in the southern Philippines, on southwestern
Mindanao Island, in northern Maguindanao Province. Cotabato is located on the north side
of the delta of the Río Grande de Mindanao (formerly Cotabato River). Cotabato's port is
18 km (11 mi) north at Parang, on Poloc Harbor, an arm of Illana Bay. Cotabato is the main
commercial center of southwestern Mindanao Island, but its swampy delta and remoteness
have kept it from achieving the commercial importance of other cities on Mindanao, such as
Davao and Zamboanga. The valley of the Río Grande de Mindanao, called the Cotabato
Valley, is one of the country's major agricultural regions. Sometimes still considered a
pioneer frontier area, the valley has been the destination for migrants from
more densely populated regions in the Visayan Islands and Luzon Island since the beginning
of the 20th century. Rice, maize, sugarcane, and coffee are important crops of the
Cotabato Valley. National roads and highways connect Cotabato through the valley to most
of the cities and towns of Mindanao. Cotabato is also served by a small airport providing
commercial interisland service.
The city's population is diverse ethnically and reflects the
in-migration of Catholic Filipinos from the north to this once Muslim-dominated area. In
1990 some 40 percent of Cotabato's residents were Muslim; the major Muslim group speaks
Maguindanao. Chinese residents are an important minority and are dominant in some retail
activities. Cotabato was founded by the Spanish in 1862 and named a charter city in 1959.
Its name is related to the Spanish word for fort, which was Cotabato's earliest function.
Population (1995) 146,779.
Source: Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001