Yakan - Orientation

Identification. The Yakan are one of the Muslim peoples of the southern Philippines. They live on the island of Basilan, just off the southwestern point of Mindanao.

Location. Basilan is located at 6°40′ N and 122°00′ E, with a total area of 1,283 square kilometers. The climate is tropical with a rainy season from April to October and a dry season from November to April. The interior is mostly mountainous. The Yakan live predominantly in the interior, mostly in the eastern, central, and southwestern part, whereas Samal and Tausug, who are also Muslim, live along the coasts. Nowadays there is also a large Christian population, which emigrated from other parts of the Philippines, mostly from the Visayan Islands. A few Yakan live on Sacol Island.

Demography. The number of Yakan is usually estimated at between 90,000 and 100,000, though variations between 60,000 and 196,000 may be found. The Yakan constitute a little less than half the population of Basilan.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Yakan language is Malayo-Polynesian. It is closely related to the Sama and Bajau languages, and is considered by some to be a Sama dialect.

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