/lay"tee/; Sp. /lay"te/, n.an island in the E central Philippines: focal point of the U.S. invasion of the Philippines 1944. 1,302,648; 3085 sq. mi. (7990 sq. km).
* * *Occupying an area of 2,785 sq mi (7,214 sq km), it lies southwest of Samar Island, with which it is linked by a 7,093-ft (2,162-m) bridge. Known to 16th-century Spanish explorers as Tandaya, it was under Spanish rule until the late 19th century. Under U.S. control in the early 20th century, its population grew rapidly. During World War II it was occupied by the Japanese, who were ousted by U.S. forces in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. It has two major cities, Ormoc and Tacloban.
* * *island, one of the Visayan group in the Philippines, lying east of Cebu and Bohol across the Camotes Sea. It lies southwest of the island of Samar, with which it is linked by a 7,093-foot (2,162-metre) bridge (completed in 1973) across the narrow San Juanico Strait. The Samar and Bohol (Mindanao) seas lie to the north and south, and Leyte Gulf occupies a large basin between eastern Leyte and southern Samar Island.The island is irregular in shape and has a rugged mountain backbone, which reaches its maximum height at Mount Lobi (4,426 feet [1,349 m]) in the centre. A complex system of short streams drain northward to Carigara Bay or westward to Leyte Gulf. The mountains are broken by a low gap at the narrowest part of the island, there crossed by a highway. Rolling plains are found in the coastal areas, particularly in the north near Tacloban and Ormoc.The island was known to 16th-century Spanish explorers as Tandaya. Its population grew rapidly after 1900, especially in the Leyte and Ormoc valleys. In World War II, U.S. forces landed on Leyte (Oct. 20, 1944), and, after the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese were expelled. Because the availability of land has been exhausted, Leyte has supplied a large number of migrants to Mindanao.Most inhabitants are farmers. Fishing is a supplementary activity. Rice and corn (maize) are the main food crops; cash crops include coconuts, abaca, tobacco, bananas, and sugarcane. There are some manganese deposits, and sandstone and limestone are quarried in the northwest.The island has two major cities, Ormoc and the port of Tacloban. Other population centres include Barugo, Carigara, Baybay, Burauen, and Maasin. Area 2,785 square miles (7,214 square km). Pop. (2000) 1,592,336.
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