Map of the Philippines
The Visayas is shown in color red
|Location||South East Asia|
|Major islands||Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, and Samar, Camotes Island, Mactan|
|Area||61,077 km2 (23,582 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,435 m (7,989 ft)|
|Regions||Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas.|
|Largest city||Cebu City|
|Population||11,203,760 (as of 2010 Philippines census)|
|Density||294.28 /km2 (762.18 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||ethnic groups.|
The Visayas // və-SY-əz or Visayan Islands (Visayan languages: Kabisay-an, Tagalog: Kabisayaan), is one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Mindanao and Luzon. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are considered the northeast extremity of the entire Sulu Sea. Residents are known as the Visayans.
A theory proposed by some scholars states that the term Visayas was derived from the name of a 7th-century thalassocratic Malay Srivijaya Empire. In Sanskrit, sri (श्री) means "fortunate," "prosperous," or "happy" and vijaya (विजय) means "victorious" or "excellence". In the 12th century, parts of the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas Islands were either subject or tributaries of the empire. 
The early people in the Visayas region were Austronesians and Negritos who migrated to the islands about 6,000 to 30,000 years ago. These early settlers were animist tribal groups. In the 12th century, settlers from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei, led by the chieftain Datu Puti and his tribes, settled in the island of Panay and its surrounding islands. By the 14th century, Arab traders and their followers, venturing into Maritime Southeast Asia, converted some of these tribal groups to Islam. These tribes practiced a mixture of Islam and Animism beliefs. There is evidence of trade among other Asian people. The Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Indonesian kingdoms since the tribal groups of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using the Malay language when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.
After the Magellan expedition, King Philip II of Spain sent Ruy López de Villalobos and Miguel López de Legazpi in 1543 and 1565 and claimed the islands for Spain. The Visayas region and many tribes began converting to Christianity and adopting western culture. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the effects of colonization on various ethnic groups soon turned sour and revolutions such as those of Francisco Dagohoy began to emerge.
Various personalities who fought against Spanish Colonial Government arose from the islands. Among the notable ones are Graciano Lopez Jaena from Iloilo, León Kilat, from Negros Oriental, Venancio Jakosalem Fernandez, from Cebu, and two personalities from Bohol by the name of Tamblot, who led the Tamblot Uprising in 1621 to 1622 and Francisco Dagohoy, the leader of the Bohol Rebellion that lasted from 1744 to 1829.
In 2005, Palawan Island was transferred to Region VI (Western Visayas) by Executive Order 429. However this planned reorganization was held in abeyance. Hence, Palawan currently remains (as of June 2013) part of Region IV-B.
Historical documents written in 1907 by Visayan historian Pedro Alcántara Monteclaro in his book Maragtas tell the story of the ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw from Borneo and came to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers were said to be the ancestors (from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit) of the Visayan people. The documents were accepted by Filipino historians and found their way into the history of the Philippines. As a result, the arrival of Bornean tribal groups in the Visayas is celebrated in the festivals of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan and Binirayan in San José, Antique. Foreign historians such as William Scott maintains that the book contains a Visayan folk tradition. Panay boasts of the Hinilawod as its oldest and longest epic.
A contemporary theory based on a study of genetic markers in present-day populations is that Austronesian people from Taiwan populated the region of Luzon and headed south to the Visayas, Borneo, Indonesia, then to Pacific islands and to the east of the Indian Ocean. The study, though, may not explain inter-island migrations, which are also possible, such as Filipinos migrating to any other Philippine provinces.
According to Visayan folk traditions, the Visayas were populated by Malays from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit migrating from Borneo to Mindanao and to the Visayas, while other Malays crossed to Palawan through Sabah. Other Malays were suggested to have crossed from Samar island to the Bicol region in Luzon. The theory suggests that those ancient tribal groups who passed through Palawan may have migrated to what is now the island of Luzon.
A supplementary theory was that at that period, the Malay people were moving north from Mindanao to the Visayas and to Luzon. Various groups of Europeans and Chinese also integrated with the native population during that period.
Administratively, the Visayas is divided into 3 regions, namely Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Each region is headed by a Regional Director who is elected from a pool of governors from the different provinces in each region.
The Visayas is composed of 16 provinces, each headed by a Governor. A governor is elected by popular vote and can serve a maximum of three terms consisting of three years each.
As for representation in the Philippine Congress, the Visayas is represented by 44 Congressmen elected in the same manner as the governors.
Languages spoken at home primarily are of the Visayan languages continuum which contains several different languages sometimes identified as dialects of the same language. Major languages include Hiligaynon or Ilonggo in much of Western Visayas, Cebuano in Central Visayas, and Waray in Eastern Visayas. Other dominant languages are Aklanon, Kinaray-a and Capiznon. Filipino, the national language based on Tagalog, is widely comprehensible but seldom used. English, an official language, is more widely known and is preferred as the second language most especially among urbanized Visayans. For instance, the latter is frequently used in schools, public signs and mass media.
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