Al Francis D. Bichara (2001-2004)
Population. Based on the May 2000 census, Albay has a total population of 1,090,907, which makes it the 22nd most populous province in the country. There are 208,640 households in the province with an average size of 5.22 persons, significantly higher than the national average of 4.99.
Languages. Bicolano is the primary language spoken in Albay, being a part of the Bicol Region. Majority of the inhabitants also understand Tagalog and English.
Agriculture is the main industry in Albay, which produces such crops as coconut, rice, sugar, and abaca. Forestry and papermaking are another source of livelihood. The manufacture of abaca products such as Manila hemp, hats, bags, mats, and slippers is one of the main sources of income in the rural areas. Fishing is also done along both shores of the province. Tourism, because of Mayon Volcano, also draws income for Albay.
Albay is subdivided into 15 municipalities and 3 cities.
Albay has a total land area of 2,552.6 square kilometers, which makes it the 26th smallest province. Most of Albay is located on mainland Bicol Peninsula[?] and it has four major islands to the east: Rapu-Rapu, Batan, Carrary and San Miguel.
Lagonoy Gulf[?] borders the province to the northeast, separating it from the province of Catanduanes. Burias Island[?] in the province Masbate can be found to the southwest across Burias Pass[?].
The province is generally mountainous with scattered fertile plains and valleys. Mayon Volcano, standing at around 2460 meters, is the most famous landform in Albay, and in the whole of Bicol, in fact. This active volcano is nearly perfectly-shaped and is considered by many to be more beautiful than Mt. Fuji in Japan. Other mountains and volcanoes in the province are Catburawan, Masaraga, Malinao, and Pantao.
Albay and its surrounding areas were known as Ibalon when Juan de Salcedo[?] and 120 soldiers explored it in 1573. Sawangan, a small settlement by a mangrove swamp, became a town called Albaybay (which means “by the bay”) in 1616. The town was first renamed Albay, then Legazpi, as Albay went on to refer to the province.
In 1846, the islands of Masbate, Ticao[?], and Burias[?] were separated from Albay to form the comandancia of Masbate. Albay was then divided into four districts: Iraya, Cordillera or Tobaco, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes. In 1894, Sorsogon became a separate province and Catanduanes in 1945. The province of Albay itself was created on March 10, 1917.
In 1649, the natives rebelled against their recruitment to Cavite to build galleons. In 1814, Mayon Volcano erupted, killing 1,200 people and burying the town of Cagsawa[?]. During the early 19th century, abaca hemp for shipping rope became a source of wealth.