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Cebu island, central Philippines. It is the centre of Visayan-Cebuano culture and has preserved a strong Spanish tradation in its cultural life. Attracted by the the island's focal position, the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed there and converted the ruler and chiefs to Christianity. He later was killed on nearby Mactan Island. There are numerous relics of the event in Cebu City.
The island of Cebu is 122 miles (196 km) long and has an area of 1,707 square miles (4,422 square km); nowhere does it exceed 20 miles (32 km) in width. The surrounding waters are Visayas Sea (north), Tanon Strait (west), Bohol Strait ( Southeast), and Camotes Sea (east). Bisected by a range of low volcanic hills, the island has very little level land except of the Bogo Plain in the far north, which is mainly a commercial sugarcane area. There are few harbors, and the settlement pattern is one of numerous small agricultural villages that grow corn (maize), coconuts, yarns, agave, and tobacco. Cebu suffers from both overpopulation and soil depletion. There was extensive timber cutting from the building of Spanish galleons on the historic Manila-Acapulco route, and the land was further impaired by the erosive powers of the island's short, rapid rivers and by poor agricultural methods. The Central Cebu National Park (1937), encompassing a triangular area (38, o49 acres (15, 394 hectares) between Balamban, Toledo City, and Cebu City, constitutes the only remaining forest on the island. The island also has a game and bird sanctuary.
Cebu was probably the first Philippines island to cultivate corn on a widespread basis after that plant's introduction by the Spaniards. Coarse-ground corn remains the staple food, though grain is imported from Mindanao, for Cebu is not agriculturally self-sufficient. Cebu's manufacturing industries are limited primarily to food processing, coal, copper, limestone, gold, and silver are mined in the central hill country of the islands. In addition to Cebu City, the majors settlements on Cebu are Danao, Lapu-Lapu (formerly Opon), Toledo, and Mandaue. Pop. (1990 est.) Cebu and smaller adjacent islands, 2,617,836.
Cebu City, city Cebu Island, south-central Philippines Located on Cebu Island's eastern coast, it is protected by offshore Mactan Island and by the inland Cordillera Central. It is one of the nation's largest cities and a bustling port. Its harbor is provided by the sheltered strait between Mactan Island and the coast.
The nation's oldest settlement, it is also one of its most historic and retains much of the flavour of its long Spanish heritage. A thriving port occupied the site when Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator, landed there on April 7, 1521. He sealed a blood compact with Humalon, the chief of Cebu, but was killed later by Chief Lapu-lapu of nearby Mactan Island. On April 27, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the friar Andres de Urdaneta arrived on Cebu and founded the first Spanish settlement and catholic mission in the Philippines archipelago. For six years, until Legazpi's removal to Manila, Cebu was the Spanish colonial capital. It remained the primary Spanish bastion in the Southern part of the Philippines.
The cultural and commercial core of the central Visayan regio, Cebu was opened to foreign trade in 1860. It was chartered as a city in 1936. Although it imports few foreign goods, it is the main collection centre for such interisland commodities as copra, abaca, sugar, timber, and fish. Cebu is a major point of passenger traffic by air and sea and is served by an airport a Lahug and an international airport across the harbour on Mactan Island.
Many Manila-based industrial and commercial firms maintain branches in Cebu City. Warehousing and assembly plants and assembly plants for wholesale trade are important to the economy. Textiles, footwear, processed foods, vegetable oil, furniture, and chemicals are leading products. Other manufactures include cosmetics, candles, pearl and aquamarine jewelry, and sistas (guitar and ukuleles), the latter primarily made on Mactan island. The city is easily accessible from all ponits on Cebu Island. A coastal railway reaches from Cebu City north to Danao and south to Carcar, and highways cross the nearby Cordillera Central. The city was almost destroyed by the Japanese in May 1942, but the port was left intact. The city was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged. Its layout follows the configuration of the shoreline, with the main business district adjoining the port area. Urban residents are concentrated nearby, and population influx has contributed to a housing shortage. Suburbs are located to the north and south along the coastal plain.
Cebu City is a Roman Catholic archbishopric and is an important centre of education. It is the site of five major universities: the University of San Carlos (1595), Cebu Institute of Technology (1946), Southwestern University (1946), University of Southern Philippines (1972), and University of Visayas (1919). The ruins of the Spanish Fort San Pedro are near the harbor.