Palawan is the westernmost island province in the Philippines and is located southwest of the capital, Metro Manila. Framed by the South China Sea in the north and the Sulu Sea in the south, Palawan is comprised of three island groups: the Calamian islands in the north, the Cuyo island group in the northwest and the Balabac-Bugsak islands in the southwest, in addition to the largest main island, Palawan, the region’s namesake.
Its low population density of approximately 36 people per kilometre – 737,000 live in relative seclusion scattered across the many islands – means the province is virtually untouched and remains largely pristine. The region is home to numerous dialects with Filipino spoken by a third of the population (other dialects include Ilonggo, Palawano and Cuyonon) although English is widely spoken. Like most of the Philippines, the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism with sizeable pockets of indigenous Muslims towards the southern part of the region. Ethnically, the people of Palawan are a melting pot of 87 cultures and draw heavily on the nation’s heritage from Spain, China, India and the Middle East.