Visayas [vi sä′yəz]group of islands in the central Philippines, including Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay, Samar, & many smaller islands: also called Visayan Islands
* * *▪ island group, Philippinesalso called Bisayasisland group, central Philippines. The Visayas group consists of seven large and several hundred smaller islands clustered around the Visayan, Samar, and Camotes seas. The seven main islands are Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, and Samar (qq.v.). These islands and their smaller neighbours make up the central group of the Philippine archipelago.High mountains characterize most of the Visayas with the exception of Samar and Masbate, which are exceedingly hilly. Panay has extensive eastern plains where sugarcane and rice are farmed. Negros has large western plains on which sugarcane is grown. Corn (maize), coconuts, bananas, tobacco, abaca, and root crops also are widely grown, and fishing is also important in the Visayas.The densely populated Visayas island group constitutes an ethnolinguistic region defined by the dominance of the three major Visayan languages: Cebuano (which is the mother tongue of about one-quarter of the Philippines' population), Hiligaynon, and Samaran. Cebuano speakers live mainly on Cebu, Bohol, eastern Negros, and western Leyte. The Hiligaynon are concentrated on Panay, western Negros, and Masbate, while the Samarans are found mainly on Samar and eastern Leyte. The two major Visayan urban centres are Cebu City on Cebu and Iloilo City on Panay. Area 23,582 square miles (61,077 square km). Pop. (2007 prelim.) 17,956,500.
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