Leyte Tourist Information
From its establishment in 1543, the province of Leyte has had a long and rich history. However, as with the rest of the country, the land is now fast becoming an attractive haven for tourists and investors.
Geography & Location
The island province of Leyte is surrounded by the sea. On the west is the Camotes Sea and the Camotes Islands. On the northern border is Samar, which for a long time in its history was considered a part of the province. Between them is the San Juanico Strait.
Across from the south is the historic Leyte Gulf.
One of the island’s most outstanding features are its picturesque mountain ranges. Most of them reach hieights of over 1,200 meters (nearly 4,000 feet). On the northwest and northeastern borders are other, smaller mountain peaks. It is from near the central point that the low lying plains of the Leyte Valley can be found.
This valley is quite extensive, emanating from the north at Carigara Bay all the way to Leyte Gulf in the south. All across the plains surrounding the bay are several streams and small lakes.
The weather situation depends on the location. On the eastern side, it is mostly wet, in particular from November to July. The rest of the province has more moderate weather, with both dry and wet seasons. The average rainfall is 100 inches.
Generally speaking, the people of Leyte can be classified into two groups based on dialect: those on the eastern and northern side speak Waray-Waray, while those on the west are more apt to converse in Cebuano. As with most of the Philippines, the dominant religion is Christianity, in particular Roman Catholicism.
While its capital city of Tacloban is quickly turning into a business and commercial center, most of the province still derives its income from agriculture and farming.
A wide variety of crops are planted throughout the arable lands, but the most in demand are rice, corn, abaca, tobacco and coconuts. Other foods that have become staple crops include bananas, cassava, gabi and potatoes. Tacloban is known as a center for the production of export quality abaca. Sugar production is also increasing and being distributed in various parts of the country.
The economy of Leyte is also heavily dependent on fishing and mining. That the former is a thriving industry should not be surprising, as the Samar Sea, Leyte Gulf and Carigara Bay provides plenty of opportunity for the fishermen to ply their trade.
There are now plenty of fish pools in the coastal lands, and while there are a lot of local fishermen, a growing number of fishing companies are getting involved. The end result is that the products end up being shipped to Luzon and even exported.
Another industry that is gaining strength is mining. Most of the companies involved in this operation are into the excavation and extraction of iron, ore sand, gravel and earth. Logging is also a profitable business in Leyte. As over 30% of the land is covered with rainforests, the venture has become popular among the locals, although there are also reforestation plans ongoing to prevent excessive logging.
Following the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and the Spaniards, the locals were rapidly converted to Christianity, and the Christian Mass was celebrated in Leyte in 1521. During the next 300 years of Spanish rule the province would be the sight of several battles and uprisings by the Filipinos against the conquistadors.
After the island was captured by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1942, the American and Filipino forces came back in 1944 to reclaim the island. The naval encounter that was fought became known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest naval conflict in history. After the epic battle the Allies were able to make a beach landing and drove away the Japanese.