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Demographic Profile


Population Size and Distribution and Growth Rates

Bicol region’s population of 3.9 million shared 6.44 percent of the Philippine’s total in 1990. Camarines Sur province accounted for one-third of the region’s overall population or 33 percent. The region’s population distribution among all other Bicol provinces was maintained through CY 2000.

The region’s CY 2000 population reached 4.67 million. This was 6.11 percent of the country’s total and 7th in rank among the 16 regions of the country. Among provinces, Albay and Sorsogon increased their respective shares while those of the rest of the provinces decreased, albeit maintaining their 1990 ranking. In terms of land area, the region ranked 9th with 17,632.5 square kilometers or 5.88% of the country’s land area.

Distributed among municipalities/cities, Legazpi City’s population ranked first for four consecutive census periods (1970 – 2000) as its growth rate also steadily increased. Naga City, Tabaco and Daraga consistently maintained their 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions, respectively.  The municipality of Sorsogon exhibited very fast and high incremental growth.  From rank 13th in 1970, it rose to 5th in the 2000 Census of Population.  The opening of ports in the province led to the development of business and tourism sites in the area.  Subsequently, its growth resulted to the merging of the municipalities of Sorsogon and Bacon and to the eventual conversion of Sorsogon into a city in the year 2000.

The population sizes and growth rates of the region for census years 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 by province and municipalities are presented in Annex 3.16.   In 1970, Camarines Sur was the only province with close to a million population.  Albay, which was next in rank, reached the 1970 population level of Camarines Sur only 20 years later.  Masbate and Sorsogon were in the same level every census year from 1970 to 1980.  It is noteworthy that distribution and growth of the 1970 population were towards areas that were sparsely populated but agriculturally rich and/or endowed with fishery resources. The island province of Catanduanes and its municipalities have exhibited very low population growth from 1970 to 1980.

In 1980, the pattern was towards urbanization.  This was due to the pull of newly-installed infrastructures, particularly roads, and the sporadic growth of trade in strategically situated municipalities that have better economic opportunities. The 1990 growth originated from the strong attraction of employment opportunities in established urban centers, which have become a source of growth of adjacent municipalities.  This situation was highly evident in Naga and Legazpi areas, whose surrounding municipalities exhibited high growth rates.  Unmistakably, the spill-over effects of development permeated those initial high growth areas.

Looking at the growth rates, all of the five provinces registered positive increases except for the province of Camarines Norte.  Most evident were those for the provinces of Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, all of whom registered more than 50% increments in the 1980-1990 and 1990-2000 periods.  The positive increase in the growth rate of Catanduanes was attributed to the improved sea transport facilities for ferrying people and cargo to and from the port of Tabaco.  The opening of the port of San Andres and the rehabilitation of Virac Port likewise provided better access to goods and services in the province.

Population Density

With the country’s total land area of 300,000 square kilometers and total population of 76 million in 2000, the crude density index of the Philippines was estimated at 255 persons per square kilometers, more than twice that of the 1970 level of 122 persons per square kilometer.

During the year 2000, the population density of the region reached 265 persons per square kilometer.  This was 10 points more than the national figure of 255.  In terms of its share to the total population, the region’s 4,674,855 accounted for 6.11 percent.  The region had an increasing growth rate as seen from the 1970, 1980, 1990 & 2000 data.

Population density levels in all the provinces grew as all the provinces became increasingly populated over time.  The most densely settled province was Albay, whose 427 persons per square kilometer was way above the region’s density of 265 persons per square kilometer. Sorsogon followed with a density level of 304 persons per square kilometer and Camarines Sur, with a density level of 295 persons per square kilometer.  On the other hand, the provinces of Camarines Norte, Masbate, and Catanduanes had density levels lower than the region’s level at 203, 175 and 142 persons per square kilometer, respectively.

In 1970, about half of the 114 municipalities/cities of the region had densities ranging from 100 to 199 persons per square kilometer.  The other half fell under the 300-699 classification. No municipality was classified under the 700-999 density class while only one city reached the 1000-above density level.  In 1980, the municipality of Camaligan showed a very rapid growth by attaining a density level of 845, second to Naga City.  Its growth was attributed to the spillover effect of the development in Naga City, being so proximate to the area.  Other municipalities whose growths were also traced to the development in Naga City were Canaman and Milaor.  Conversely, Iriga City decelerated from its second most populous ranking in 1970 down to the 10th rank in 1980.  This was due to the high out-migration behavior of its population and/or the rapid increases in the population of the other municipalities owing to the developments taking place in their localities.  Another municipality that decelerated during the decade was Presentacion, also in Camarines Sur, from rank 18 in 1970 to rank 78 in 1980.

In 1990, the municipality of Camaligan attained a density level of 1,476 persons per square kilometer.  After several census periods, it was the only municipality that reached the 1000-above density level, excluding Naga City.  Legazpi also grew substantially during this period as more people relocated to the city following its proclamation as the administrative seat of the region.

The municipality of Canaman and the city of Legazpi reached the 1000-above density level in the 2000 census with 1,122 and 1022 persons per sq. kilometer, respectively.  This brought 4 municipalities/cities into the 1000-above density position. Seven municipalities/cities joined the 700-999 density level while only nine municipalities remained below the 100 density class.  The municipality of Gigmoto in Catanduanes consistently ranked last among the 107 municipalities with a density range of only between 25-38 persons per square kilometers during the four-censal periods.

Table 3.42 Population Density, by Municipality, by Province Bicol Region
2000, 1990, 1980 and 1970

Municipality Total Land Area
(in has.)
2000 1990 1980 1970
Pop’n Density Rank Pop’n Density Rank Pop’n Density Rank Pop’n Density Rank
Albay 255,260 427 1 354 1 317 1 264 1
Camarines Norte 211,250 203 4 185 4 146 4 124 4
Camarines Sur 526,682 295 3 248 2 209 3 180 3
Catanduanes 151,151 142 6 124 6 116 6 107 6
Masbate 404,771 175 5 148 5 144 5 122 5
Sorsogon 214,140 304 2 244 3 234 3 199 3

Based  on the population survey conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in 2003, there are a total of 43,118 indigenous peoples (IPs)  residing in different areas/barangays in the Bicol Region.  These occupy a total land area of 74,000 hectares, with Camarines Sur having the greatest number of land area proclaimed as ancestral domain.   In terms of provincial location, Camarines Sur has the largest number of IPs, while among municipalities, Donsol in Sorsogon has the largest number with 5,572 IPs.


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