Cotabato City

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