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China Sea on the west. Basco, the provincial capital, is approximately 700 kilometres from Manila, the national capital.

The islands are hilly and/or mountainous except for the Plains of Vasay and some stretches of narrow coastal plains in the main island. Most of the land has been cleared for farming.

Batanes' climate ranges from humid oceanic to sub-tropic. The waters around the islands moderate the climate -- cooling summers. It's coldest in January and warmest in May.
The Land

Batanes is an archipelago that lies in the northernmost part of the Philippines. It covers an approximate land area of 21,000 hectares or 210 square kilometres. It's  the smallest province in the Philippines, both in land area and population, but it has one of the largest territorial waters in all of the Philippines.

Over 15,000 people live in the province, which is bounded by Bashi Channel on the north, the Balintang Channel in the south, the Philippine Sea /Pacific Ocean on the east and the
January temperatures average 20 degrees Celsius. May average temperatures range from 30 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius.

The average (mean) annual air temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius in January, but it's much more changeable in the north (Basco).

There's a great deal of rain during the non-summer months brought in by the typhoons that frequent the area. Batanes' annual precipitation varies, but is highest in the north and lowest in the south.
The
weather is foggy at the onset of the colder months, caused by the cold polar air from the north (Continental Asia /Siberia) meeting warm moist air from the south.
Pacific Seaboard Batanes
Interior Batanes
The Economy

The Batanes economy is mainly agriculture, services and fishing.

Agriculture - Farming in Batanes began long before the arrival of the Spaniards. The Ivatans loved the land and cultivated many plants for food.

Ivatan farmers started with root crops, but when the Spaniards arrived, they learned to grow other crops, while introducing livestock and vegetables. Farming meant growing root crops -- often just enough to feed the farmer's family.
Camote and other root crops became Batanes' most hardy and widely grown crops, but in the 1950s, livestock became more important than root crops on Ivatan farms. The government brought breeding bulls and the farmers moved to "mixed" farming on a small scale.
Batanes' farms are not scientific, but government agricultural extension workers give direction and support to farming methods. The farmers seldom have problems like plant and animal diseases and pests.

Today's Ivatan farmer still could barely feed his family due to antiquated methods of farming dictated mainly by the topography of the land that at best is unsuitable to agriculture. Nevertheless, Batanes was a leading producer of beef cattle  and garlic prior to the global economy. Camote is now mainly produced as feed for the hog industry.
The Service Sector - Services account for most of the paid employment in Batanes. More significantly, most jobs creation were in the service sector.

The most important service industry is government or public administration. It plays a vital role in the provincial economy.
Livestock Batanes
Sweet Potatoes Batanes (Grade A)
Fishing - Fishing continues to play an important role in partly meeting the fish requirements of the province.

The prevailing fishing methods are hook and line and cast nets.

Situated southwest of Batan Island are the waters of Sabtang and the islands, one of the richest fishing grounds in all of Batanes, where Isabtangs along with other Ivatans engaged in coastal fishing.
- vbc
Deep Sea Fishing Batanes
Historic Batanes - The Batanes Capitol (La Casa Real/Capitolio)
(Circa 1800s to 1970s - See the front steps that was used as pulpit by visiting dignitaries.)
The History

Thousands of years before Spanish colonization, people lived on fortified cliffs and hilltops scattered across the islands. The fortified settlements were called
"Idiang" and derived from the Ivatan word "Idi" or "Idian" which means home or hometown. They belonged to the Ivatan tribes and spoke the same Ivatan language, but with different accents.

The Ivatan tribes who called the place home farmed, where soil permitted, and fished. They were also a boat-making and seafaring people and they trade with Taiwan to the North and Cagayan to the South.
The Ivatan tribal settlements had a de facto tribal government, not very much different from that of tribal governments in the earlier stages of human evolution. The tribal settlement was headed by a chieftain with a deputy.

Inter-tribal hostilities
(Arap du Tukon) were common in those days but for men only. Common law prohibited the harming of womenfolk who were the main providers of food in wartime.

IIn the late 1600s, Dominican missionaries landed in Batanes. The native people were in the beginning not all that welcoming to the early Spanish colonizers, but slowly they were able to adopt themselves to the Spanish ways. The Spaniards had very different lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions than the Ivatan tribes. They didn't understand the native peoples' social customs, generous nature, religious beliefs, or love of the land.

                                             
Imnajbu is the birthplace of Christianity in Batanes

According to church records, the first mass and baptism in the islands was celebrated in what is now Imnajbu in Uyugan.

The Spanish missionaries, finding the conditions harsh in Batanes, there were attempts to resettle the Ivatans in Cagayan, but they always found their way home - they sailed back to Batanes.

In 1782, Spanish Governor-General Jose Basco y Vargas sent an expedition to formally get the consent of the Ivatans to become subjects of the King of Spain.

On June 26, 1783,
de facto Ivatan independence was lost - a sad day to many Ivatans, but equally, a new beginning and a day of celebration to many other Ivatans. On that day (it's called Batanes Day today) the Spanish representatives met the Ivatan representatives on the Plains of Vasay (in what is now Basco town) for the ceremonial formal annexation of Batanes to the Spanish Empire.

The new province was named
Provincia de la Conception. Governor-General Jose Basco y Vargas was named "Conde de la Conquista de Batanes" and the capital town Basco was named after him.
Tourism Batanes (Batanes Resort)
The Dominican Order established missions in Santo Domingo de Basco, which included present day Mahatao, and San Jose de Ivana, which included all of present day Uyugan and Sabtang.

The San Carlos de Mahatao mission was established in 1798, and the Itbayat mission in 1855.

The first Spanish governor of Batanes was Don Jose Huelva y Melgarejo.
The People

Batanes' population has not changed much since its founding. Its population was 15,000 in 1995. This is around 0.02 per cent of the population of the Philippines.

All the people, except around 3 per cent, speak Ivatan as their first language, while most of the people speak Tagalog or Filipino and English as their second language.

Almost half of Batanes' population live in Basco, the provincial capital. The other half live in the other municipalities. The province has six municipalities, namely: Basco, Itbayat, Ivana, Mahatao, Sabtang and Uyugan.

Four of the municipalities are in Batan Island or mainland Batanes, while the other two municipalities (Itbayat and Sabtang) are comprised of islands or islets.

All of the towns in these municipalities have a main street as the core of their socio-economic life.
The Americans followed the Spaniards to Batanes after the Spanish naval defeat at Manila Bay. The USS Princeton dropped anchor at Basco Bay in February 1900. In 1901, the province was reclassified to a township, but provincial status was restored in 1909.

American public school system was introduced and general health and sanitation campaign was launched. In the 1930s, the Americans built a better road system that replaced the road system
(El Camino Real) built during the Spanish period.

Most of the school buildings and highways in Batanes today were built during the Spanish and American periods.

The first American governor of Batanes was Otto Scheerer. He was succeeded by J. Gimenez.
The Province of Batanes
Basco
Itbayat
Ivana
Mahatao
Sabtang
Uyugan
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