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Cordillera political map
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Last updated: May 1, 2004
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Cordillera Region


The first Cordillera town was founded in 1599, in Bangued, as a mission in what is now the province of Abra. A few other units of local administration were established in the 18th century, along the fringes of the mountain region. Colonially administered settlements were established among the natives of the lower Abra river valley and among peoples in the area where the Cordillera connects with the Caraballo mountains, in what is now the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

Nueva Vizcaya was created as a military province in 1840, to protect the settlements of subjugated Christians against frequent attacks from their independent Cordillera and Caraballo neighbors. Another military province was created in central Abra in 1846. Still another was established in 1850 in La Union, whose population then was more Igorot than Ilocano. La Union included a district called Benguet, which covered the present Trinidad valley and neighboring areas, and which had been "pacified" in the 1830s by infamous Spanish military commander Guillermo Galvey.

The first commandancies were formed in the 1840's and 1850's. The Tiagan commandancy (1847) covered what is now the triboundary of Abra, Ilocos Sur, and Mountain Province. The Bontoc commandancy (1852) covered the area from Mainit to Banaue. The Lepanto commandancy (1852) covered the area from Besao to Suyoc. The Benguet commandancy covered the stretch from Buguias to Itogon. The Saltan commandancy (1859) covered the area from Pinukpuk to Tinglayan.

From the 1880s to the 1890s, the Spanish colonialists reorganized old commandancies and created new ones. The Saltan commandancy was replaced by the Itaves, which stretched from Ripang (near present-day Conner) through Bulanao (in present-day Tabuk) to a point in what is now Paracelis. Lubuagan, Tanudan and Tinglayan were placed under the Bontoc commandancy, which no longer included Banaue. Banaue was placed under the new Kiangan commandancy (1889) that covered most of what is now Ifugao province.

Other new commandancies were formed in 1891: Kayapa in what is now the border area of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya; Amburayan in what is now Ilocos Sur; and Apayao around the Pudtol area. The Kabugaoan commandancy was supposed to cover Calanasan-Kabugao area of Apayao and the Tineg area of Abra, but its existence remained only on paper.

After the Americans defeated the Filipino revolutionaries, they established their own Cordillera boundaries that closely approximated those of the Spanish commandancies. The US colonial authority set up Mountain Province in 1908 as a "special province", organized into several sub-provinces: Apayao, Kalinga, Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Lepanto, and Amburayan.

The Americans retained Abra, La Union and Nueva Vizcaya as units separate from Mountain Province, despite the fact that Abra geographically and culturally belonged to the Cordillera, and that considerable portions of the populations of La Union and Nueva Vizcaya then consisted of mountain peoples.

In 1917, the US colonial government's Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes recommended that the western border of the Mountain Province be pushed eastward, such that the entire subprovince of Amburayan and large slices of Lepanto and Benguet would be made part of Ilocos Sur and La Union. The adjustment was made in 1920. Also, the subprovince of Lepanto was dissolved, and its various towns and villages turned over to Ilocos Sur, Benguet, or Bontoc.

The old Mountain Province would be retained under the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935 and under the Republic of the Philippines from 1946 onwards for the next 20 years.

In 1966, the old Mountain Province was divided into four new provinces: Kalinga-Apayao, Ifugao, Benguet, and Bontoc (which retained the name Mountain Province).

In 1972, martial law paved the way for a wide-ranging government reorganization. The Cordillera provinces were placed under two regions: with Benguet and Mountain Province falling under Region 1 (Ilocos) and Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao falling under Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).

In 1988, two years after Marcos was ousted, the mountain provinces were reconsolidated as the Cordillera Administrative Region, this time including Abra. In 1995, Kalinga and Apayao became separate provinces. #

Apayao province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town


no. of towns 7
no. of barangays 133
Kalinga province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town


no. of towns 8
no. of barangays 152
Abra province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town


no. of towns 27
no. of barangays 303
Mountain Province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town


no. of towns 10
no. of barangays 144
Ifugao province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town


no. of towns 11
no. of barangays 175
Benguet province
land area (sq km)
2000 population
capital town

La Trinidad

no. of towns 13
no. of barangays 269
Baguio City
land area (sq km)
2000 population
no. of barangays 129
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Apayao province Abra province Kalinga province Mountain Province Ifugao province Benguet province and Baguio City