Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)  is the region, located in the Mindanao island group of the Philippines, that is composed of predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It is the only region that has its own government. The regional capital is at Cotabato City, although this city is outside of its jurisdiction.

The ARMM previously included the province of Shariff Kabunsuan until July 16, 2008, when Shariff Kabunsuan ceased to exist as a province after the Supreme Court in Sema v. Comelec declared unconstitutional the “Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act 201”, which created it.

Regional center: Cotabato City

Area: Total 26,974 km2 (10,414.7 sq mi)

Population (2007):

  • Total 4,120,795
  • Density 152.8/km2 (395.7/sq mi)

Time zone: PST (UTC+8)

Provinces: 5

Cities: 2

Municipalities: 113

Barangays: 2,470

Cong. districts: 8

Languages: Banguingui, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, Sama, others

Political Divisions

Province / Capital / Population(2000) / Area(km²)

  •  Basilan /Isabela City / 408,520 / 1,994.1
  • Lanao del Sur / Marawi City / 1,138,544 / 12,051.9
  • Maguindanao / Shariff Aguak / 1,273,715 / 7,142.0
  • Sulu / Jolo / 849,670 / 2,135.3
  • Tawi-Tawi / Bongao / 450,346 / 3,426.6
  • Figures exclude Isabela City.
  • Rejected inclusion into the ARMM, still part of the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
  • Figures exclude the independent component city of Cotabato.
  • Land area figures taken from the Department of Budget and Management’s 2008 IRA computation documents.Population figures taken from the National Statistics Office’s 2007 Census of Population results.

Cultural Heritage

The native Maguindanaon and other native Muslim/non-Muslim groups have a culture that revolves around kulintang music, a specific type of gong music, found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines. Apart from dance the criollo-mestizos Spanish dances and song are part of Maguindanao traditional culture.

ARMM powers and basic principles

RA 9054 provides that ARMM “shall remain an integral and inseparable part of the national territory of the Republic.” The President exercises general supervision over the Regional Governor. The Regional Government has the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges, subject to Constitutional provisions and the provisions of RA 9054. The Shariah applies only to Muslims; its applications are limited by pertinent constitutional provisions (prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment).


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