The location of the Island of Leyte
|Location||South East Asia|
|Area||7,368 km2 (2,844.8 sq mi)|
|Province||Leyte, Southern Leyte|
|Largest city||Tacloban (pop. 178,639)|
|Population||1,950,000 (as of 2000)|
|Density||264.7 /km2 (685.6 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Visayan (Cebuano, Waray)|
The island measures about 180 km (110 mi) north-south and about 65 km (40 mi) at its widest point. In the north it nearly joins Samar, separated by theSan Juanico Strait, which becomes as narrow as 2 km (1.2 mi) in some places. The island province of Biliran is also to the north of Leyte and is joined to Leyte island by a bridge across the narrow Biliran Strait. To the south Leyte is separated from Mindanao by the Surigao Strait. To the east, Leyte is somewhat “set back” from the Philippine Sea of the Pacific Ocean, Samar to the northeast and Dinagat to the southeast forming the Leyte Gulf. To the west are Cebu and Bohol.
Leyte is mostly heavily forested and mountainous, but the Leyte Valley in the northeast has much agriculture.
Politically, the island is divided into two provinces: (Northern) Leyte and Southern Leyte. Territorially, Southern Leyte Province includes the island of Panaonto its south. Biliran Island, to the north of Leyte Island, was formerly a sub-province of Leyte, and is now a separate province, Biliran Province.
Leyte today is notable for the geothermal electric power plants near Ormoc.
However, Leyte is most famous for its role in the reconquest of the Philippines in the World War II. On 20 October 1944, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, saying “I have returned”. However, the Japanese did not give up so easily, as the ensuing Battle of Leyte proved, and convergence of naval forces resulted in the four-day Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history.
Areas of Interest
The Leyte Provincial Capitol is the seat of the provincial government where historic viewing of a mural depicting the First Mass of Limasawa in the Orient and the landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur can be done.
The Leyte Landing Memorial in Red Beach, Palo, marks the spot where American liberation forces landed it also has a lagoon where the life-size statues of Gen. McArthur and his fleet stands.
Lake Danao is a violin-shaped lake hemmed by cloud-capped mountain ranges. It is a hunter’s paradise where wild animals roam the surrounding forests. It is also said to be the home of a giant eel.
Calanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte is a virgin island with pure white side. It has two long sandbars. The ecological atmosphere of the island had been preserved by the municipality.
The Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum boasts the painting of the 14 station of the cross done by Filipino artists and a bas-relief of the legend of the first Filipino man and woman (Malakas and Maganda).
The San Juanico Bridge is the longest and the most beautifully designed bridge in the Philippines. It features the picturesque San Juanico Strait with a thousand whirlpools, lovely islets and view.
Leyte Island is the birthplace of the “Tinikling” dance, which is very popular throughout the Philippines.