Benguet (; Ibaloi: Probinsya ne Benguet; Ilocano: Probinsya ti Benguet; ), is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the southern tip of the Cordillera Administrative Region in the island of Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad.
The mountainous area now covered by Benguet has been settled for millennia by several peoples collectively known as the Igorots. Two of these groups, the Ibaloi and the Kankanaey, are dominant ethnolinguistic groups of the area. In the pre-conquest period, these tribes enjoyed flourishing trade with lowland groups immediately to their west and south, such as the Ilocano and the Pangasinense.
At the beginning of the Spanish Era, colonisers heard of the rich gold mines in the mountains, attempted to colonize the highlands, but failed. In 1572, Juan de Salcedo led a small expedition into the southern part of Benguet, but the natives forced them to retreat. The first major expedition into the mountains occurred in 1620, when Spanish explorers went into the La Trinidad Valley and briefly controlled some Igorot gold mines, and later abandoned after a few years.
In the 1800s, Spanish colonizers made more serious attempts such as expeditions under Col. Guillermo Galvey and succeeded in establishing a presence in the La Trinidad Valley, named after Galvey's wife.
This area later became a district of the new province of La Union in 1846. Eight years later, in 1854, Benguet became a separate comandancia politico-militar. Parts of the present province were established as component territories of other comandancias such as Lepanto and Amburayan.
When the Americans took control of the Philippines, they established local civil governments in many parts of the country. American civilian government was established in Benguet on November 23, 1900 by virtue of Act No. 48, with Canadian journalist H.P. Whitmarsh appointed as the province's first governor.
*When Baguio was converted into a chartered city in 1909, barrio Tuba was separated from the city and incorporated into the township of Twin Peaks.
The Americans then established Mountain Province on August 18, 1908, with the enactment of Act No. 1876. Benguet, along with Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Lepanto, became sub-provinces of this new province. Later on, the township of Baguio was abolished upon its conversion into a chartered city in 1909. Then in 1920, Benguet absorbed the sub-provinces of Amburayan and Lepanto.
In the 1930s, mining companies started operating in the gold deposits in the province. This brought jobs, and many lowlanders migrated to Benguet, especially in towns surrounding the mines, such as Itogon, Mankayan and Tuba.
World War II
During World War II, Igorot guerrillas and the combined Filipino and American forces fought Japanese soldiers during the final days of the war in 1945.
On June 18, 1966, the huge Mountain Province was split into four provinces with the enactment of Republic Act No. 4695. The four provinces were Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao. Benguet became one of the provinces of the Ilocos Region. On July 15, 1987, the Cordillera Administrative Region was established by President Corazon Aquino thru Executive Order 220, and Benguet was made one of its provinces.