The Province of Davao del Sur has its humble beginnings, even before it functioned as a province on July 1, 1967.

Local historians claim that the word “DAVAO” came from the phonetic blending of the words of the Bagobo subgroups when referring to Davao River, an essential waterway which empties itself into Davao Gulf. The aboriginal Obos who dwell in the hinterlands of the Davao Region called the river, Davoh, the Clatta or Guiangans called it Duhwow, or Davau, and the Tagabawa Bagobo, Dabu. To the Obos, the word “davoh” means a place “beyond the high grounds”, including the settlements located at the mouth of Davao River which were surrounded by rolling hills. When asked where they were going, the usual reply is davoh, while pointing towards the direction of the town. Duhwow also refers to a trading settlement where they barter forest goods in exchange for salt and other commodities. Later the three names given to the river by these early natives became “Dabaw” (Davao). [*] Davao an introduction to its History, Ernesto I Corcino, (Rogelio Lizada, Historian)

In 1965, Rep. Lorenzo S. Sarmiento Sr., revived the Veloso Bill, (Rep. Ismael C. Veloso of the lone congressional district of Davao) in the House seeking the division of the Davao Region, into three provinces, with the support given by Sen. Alejandro Almendras, legislative measures was passed by both the House and the Senate. The congress was able to pass a bill for legislation which resulted to the birth of three provinces from the mother Province of Davao. President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed it into a law, the Republic Act No. 4867 in May 8, 1967. As a result, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur were created, and these three Provinces became operational as provincial Local Government Units on July 1, 1967.

On November 10, 2010, Davao del Sur Congressmen, Rep. Marc Douglas C. Cagas IV, as the principal author, and Rep. Franklin P. Bautista, as the co- author, filed House Bill 3644 (later expanded and filed House Bill 4451) which sought to create the Province of Davao Occidental from Davao del Sur. The Bill was filed in Congress on May 16, 2011, transmitted to the Senate on May 24, 2011, enacted on July 23, 2013 and signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III as Republic Act No. 10360. On January 14, 2013Davao Occidental was created, covering five (5) municipalities (Malita, Sta. Maria, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani Island). This resulted to the division of the Province of Davao del Sur, that eventually retained (9) municipalities and one (1) component city (City of Digos, Sta. Cruz, Bansalan, Matanao, Magsaysay, Hagonoy, Kiblawan, Padada, Sulop and Malalag).

Physical Characteristics

The Province is bounded by Davao City to the north, Davao Occidental to the south-east, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat to the west, South Cotabato and Sarangani to the south-west, and Davao Gulf to the east. At present, Davao del Sur has a total land area of 1,984.01 square kilometers. Davao del Sur has a lone Congressional District. It is comprised of nine (9) municipalities and one (1) city, with 232 barangays.

Topography and slope

The province has a total Alienable and Disposable (A&D) lands of 1,254.39 square kilometers which is 63.22 percent of the total land area of the province, while forestlands comprise 729.62 sqauare kilometers or about 36.78 percent of the entire province. It is predominantly a lowland area with a slope of 0.18 percent. These are mostly used for agriculture, industries and settlements.

Water resources

The main sources of water supply in the province are both from surface and groundwater resources. There are several creeks and rivers traversing the province, four of which are considered major rivers, namely: Padada-Miral River, Balutakay River, Sibulan River and Digos River. These rivers originate from Mt. Apo where water flows downhill and eventually drains into these rivers. The rivers and its tributaries are utilized for domestic, agriculture and industrial uses. Majority of the people in the rural and urban areas of the province are served by Levels I, II and III water supply facilities.

Mineral resources

Davao del Sur is endowed with rich deposits of metallic and non-metallic mineral resources. Eleven (11) different types of mineral resources are found in the province. Four metallic elements are gold, silver, lead and chromium. Non-metallic deposits include limestones, white clay, molybdenum, phosphate and guano.

Climate and rainfall

The province has Type IV climate classification and is characterized by unpronounced dry and wet seasons. Likewise, the occurrence of rainfall is more or less evenly distributed throughout the year with no pronounced rainy and dry season. The province usually experience its coldest season during the months of December and January, while hottest months fall on April and May.

Demographic Characteristics

Based on the 2020 Census of Population and Housing, Davao del Sur has a total population of 680,481, indicating an Average Population Growth Rate (APGR) of 1.55 percent between Censal Years CY 2015 and CY 2020 with a population density of 343 individuals per square kilometer. Its population comprised 12.97 percent of Davao Region’s total population of 5,243,536 in 2020. Among the five (5) provinces and highly urbanized city of Davao Region, Davao del Sur ranked 4th in terms of population.

The majority of the population are Visayan migrants. Cebuano is the most widely spoken language. Several ethnic groups exist in the province, among them B´laans, Bagobos, Manobos and Tagacaolos. These early settlers occupied the slopes, and base of Mt. Apo, and have developed their own cultures which have been preserved to this day.

Socio-economic Characteristics

The Province of Davao del Sur is classified as a first class province.


The province is a major producer of rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, cacao, mango and banana.

Fishery production in the province is sourced from captured fish and aquaculture. Captured fishing includes municipal and commercial fisheries, while aquaculture includes brackishwater, freshwater fishponds, fish cages, oyster and seaweeds.


Davao del Sur is predominantly into agri-industrial, manufacturing and processing. Majority of the firms registered with the Board of Investment (BOI) are located in the Municipality of Sta. Cruz, which is a Provincial Agri-Industrial Center (PAIC) of the province. per RA 7916 or the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Law. These sectors played a vital role to the stability of the local economy of the province.


Davao del Sur is endowed with scenic spots which are either man-made or natural. Mt. Apo is the highest peak in the country with an elevation of 2,954 meters above sea level, making it the Grand Father of all Philippines Mountains and the dream mountain of all Filipino Mountaineers. .Mt. Apo is one of the must see and experience for every adventure tourist or backpacker who visits the province. There are three (3) established trails in making track to the summit: 1) Sibulan-Mt. Apo Peak Trail in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur; 2) Ko-Ong Kidapawan Trail in Kidapawan, North Cotabato; and 3) Kapatagan Trail in Digos, Davao del Sur.

Tourism resources of the province are categorized as farm, natural, historical, cultural and man-made tourism. There are also different festivals celebrated in the province. .


Davao del Sur Official Website

Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) XI

2018 Regional Social and Economic Trends Davao, Region

Davao del Sur Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP, 2016-2025 – 2,954 meters above sea level


Note: Davao del Sur PDPFP, 2016-2025 – 3.144 meters above sea level
 – 2,954 meters above sea level