The City of Zamboanga (Chavacano: Ciudad de Zamboanga) is a highly urbanized city located in Mindanao, Philippines. It has a population of more than 807,129 according to the 2010 census. Zamboanga is the 6th most populous and 3rd largest city by land area in the Philippines. It is the commercial and industrial center of the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Zamboanga was the capital of the former Moro Province, now Mindanao, from 1903 to 1913. On September 15, 1911, the Municipalidad de Zamboanga was converted into a city by the legislative order Act. No.272. Known for Hispanic influences in its culture, it bears the nickname Ciudad Latina de Asia (Asia's Latin City).
Zamboanga was founded in the late 12th or early 13th century, with the earliest people living there being the Subanen, an indigenous tribe of Malay origin. The Subanen people's name for Zamboanga, 'Sung Lupa', means 'Pointed Land'. Speculation that the name of Zamboanga comes from the word 'Jambangan', meaning the 'Land of Flowers', is met by others insisting the name derives from the word 'Saguan' or 'Sambuan', A Malay word for the paddle used by natives to paddle the vintas in the sea. Still another possible origin is 'Sambon' which refers to herbal plants that grew abundantly in the city. Badjao, Samal, Tausug and the Yakan tribes from Malayan descent settled in the same part of Mindanao in the early 14th century. Islam gained predominance in the early 14th century in the Philippines first as a non-indigenous religion from these Austronesian peoples before Jews and Christians arrived.
The Spaniards arrived in the country in the year 1520, as the first European invaders in the country. In the year 1569 Zamboanga was chosen as the site of the Spanish settlement and garrison on La Caldera (now called Barrio Recodo). The goal was to use it for the reinforcement of their troops in the country, making way for Christian settlements by converting the people and protecting the island against foreign invaders and Moro pirates. After 3 decades (1599), the fort was closed and transferred to Cebú due to great concerns about attack by the English on that island, which did not occur. After having abandoned the city, the Spaniards joined forces with Visayan troops and reached the shore of Zamboanga to bring peace to the island against Moro pirates.
Zamboanga became the main headquarters of the Spaniards in 1634 upon approval of King Philip IV of Spain; this is now the official establishment of the city by the Spaniards. Thousands of Spanish troops headed by a Governor General from Spain took the approval to build the first Zamboanga fortress (now called Fort Pilar) in Zamboanga to forestall enemies in Mindanao like Moro pirates and other foreign invaders. The Zamboanga fortress became the main focus of a number of battles between Moros, Chinese and Spaniards while the Spanish ruled the region from 16th to 18th centuries. While the region was already dominated by Catholicism, Muslims kept up a protracted struggle against the ruling Spaniards in the country into the 18th century.
In the Year 1831, the Custom house in Zamboanga was established as a port, and it became the main port for direct communication, trading some goods and other services to most of Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The Americans arrived in the Philippines, headed by General Weyler with thousands of troops to defeat the Spaniards who ruled it more than three centuries. The Spanish Government sent more than 80,000 Spanish troops in the Philippines. The Spanish Government completely and peacefully surrendered the islands to the United States in the 1890s.
American and Japanese period
Before the end of the 19th century; The Republic of Zamboanga was established during the American period in the Philippines and it briefly existed from May 18, 1899 until March 1903. The first President of the Republic of Zamboanga was General Vicente Álvarez, who was succeeded by Isidoro Midel and Mariano Arquiza.
During the American colonial period, Zamboanga hosted a number of American regional governors, including General John J. Pershing, who was military commander/governor of the Moro Province from 1909 to 1914. Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing became the Supreme Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I when the US entered the war in 1917. The entire Moro Province of Mindanao was administered directly from the city, effectively making Zamboanga Mindanao's first and only capital city. Soon after the establishment of the Commonwealth, it established itself the center of commerce, trade, and government of Mindanao Island as the capital of the Moro Province.
Zamboanga became a chartered city in the year 1936. In Pre-World War II, Pettit Barracks, a part of the US Army's 43d Infantry Regiment (PS), was stationed there. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, they were headed by Vice Admiral Skugiyama Rokuzo, accompanied by Rear Admiral Naosaburo Irifune. The Japanese landed at Zamboanga on March 2, 1942. They established a defense headquarters in the city and controlled the government for over two years. The Japanese government in the city was eventually overthrown by American and Filipino forces in 1945.
Post-World War II
In 1990, Zamboanga City was declared as the commercial and industrial center of the Western Mindanao region (now Zamboanga Peninsula).