Samar (// SAH-mar) is the third-largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the eastern Visayas, which are in the central Philippines. The island is divided into three provinces: Samar (which consists of the western two-fifths of the island of Samar), Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar. These three provinces, along with the provinces on the nearby islands of Leyte and Biliran, are part of the Eastern Visayas region.
|Adjacent bodies of water|
|Area||13,428.8 km2 (5,184.9 sq mi)|
|Coastline||800.6 km (497.47 mi)|
|Highest elevation||890 m (2920 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Huraw|
|Largest settlement||Calbayog (pop. 183,851)|
|Pop. density||140/km2 (360/sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Visayans (Waray-Waray)|
About a third of the island of Samar is protected as a natural park, known as the Samar Island Natural Park.
On June 19, 1965, through Republic Act No. 4221, Samar was divided into three provinces: Northern Samar, Western Samar and Eastern Samar. The capitals of the provinces are, respectively, Catarman, Catbalogan City, and Borongan City. In commemoration of the establishment of these provinces, June 19 is celebrated as an annual holiday and many have the day off from work.
Samar is the easternmost island in the Visayas. It lies to the northeast of Leyte, separated from it only by the San Juanico Strait, which at its narrowest point is only about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) across; the strait is spanned by the San Juanico Bridge. And it lies to the southeast of the Bicol Peninsula on Luzon, separated from it only by the San Bernardino Strait.
To the south is the Leyte Gulf, the site of one of the most consequential naval battles of World War II. And to the north and east of Samar lies the Philippine Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean.
Samar was the first island of the Philippines sighted by the Spanish expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan. He sighted it on 16 March 1521, having sailed there from the Mariana Islands. Realizing he had arrived at an archipelago, he charted the islands, and called them San Lazaro (Saint Lazarus in English) because they were sighted on Lazarus Saturday. The Spaniards later called the island Filipinas, while the Portuguese called it Lequios. Although Samar was the first island of the Philippines sighted by Magellan, he did not land there. He continued south, weighed anchor at Suluan Island, and then finally, on 17 March 1521, he landed on Homonhon Island.
Years later, other Spanish expeditions arrived. The historian William Henry Scott wrote that a "Samar datu by the name of Iberein was rowed out to a Spanish vessel anchored in his harbor in 1543 by oarsmen collared in gold; while wearing on his own person earrings and chains." Scott recounted a local saga, which the inhabitants called siday, about Bingi of Lawan, a prosperous Lakanate in Samar, and he also recorded that Datu Hadi Iberein came from the Lakanate of Lawan.
The final campaign of the Philippine–American War (1899-1902) took place in Samar and is one of the best known, and most notorious, of the entire war. A combination of factors resulted in particularly violent clashes.
On September 28, 1901, Eugenio Daza, Area Commander of Southeastern Samar and Valeriano Abanador, the town's police chief, launched an attack on U.S. Army Company C 9th Infantry Regiment who were occupying Balangiga. The Filipino Forces brought one of the only Filipino victories of the war and the worst American defeat in decades.
The Balangiga Encounter resulted in the brutal March across Samar.
"I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn, the better it will please me ... The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness ..." — Gen. Jacob H. Smith
Thousands of Filipinos were slaughtered by American Marines.
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