FAST FACTS: Eastern Visayas

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A quick look at Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)

MANILA, Philippines – Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), possibly the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in recent history, left a trail of death and destruction in its wake.

With reports slowly trickling in from the typhoon zone, Eastern Visayas is emerging as the worst-hit area.

The region isn’t a stranger to typhoons, but this particular system has brought unimaginable devastation to an already impoverished region.

Here are some facts about Eastern Visayas:


Eastern Visayas is located on the eastern edge of the Visayas island chain, facing the Pacific Ocean. The islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran are the main land masses. It covers an area of 21,562.9 square kilometers (2.15 million hectares).

According to the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the region’s terrain is relatively flat near and along the coasts, with the mountainous areas mostly located in the middle portion of Samar and Leyte islands.

The southern and southwestern portions of Leyte are mountainous, while its northern portion is extensively flat. Samar, on the other hand, has a lot of mountainous ranges with forest and deep valleys.

Around 52.2% of the region is forest land.

Political divisions

Officially known as Region VIII, Eastern Visayas has 6 provinces, 12 districts, 7 cities, 136 municipalities, and 4,390 barangays.

  • Biliran (capital Naval): lone district, 8 municipalities, 132 barangays
  • Eastern Samar (capital Borongan City): lone district, 22 municipalities, 1 city, 597 barangays
  • Leyte (capital Tacloban City): 5 districts, 40 municipalities, 3 cities, 1,641 barangays
  • Northern Samar (capital Catarman): 2 districts, 24 municipalities, 569 barangays
  • Samar (formerly Western Samar) (capital Catbalogan City): 2 districts, 24 municipalities, 2 cities, 951 barangays
  • Southern Leyte (capital Maasin City): lone district, 18 municipalities, 1 city, 500 barangays

Tacloban City is the region’s administrative center.


Based on the 2010 census, Eastern Visayas has a total population of 3,880,148. The population for each province is as follows:

  • Biliran – 161,760
  • Eastern Samar – 428,877
  • Leyte – 1,567,984
  • Northern Samar – 589,013
  • Samar – 733,377
  • Southern Leyte – 399,137

Most of the people live in the following cities and towns:

  • Tacloban City (Leyte) – 221,174
  • Ormoc City (Leyte) – 191,200
  • Calbayog City (Samar) – 172,778
  • Baybay City (Leyte) – 102,841
  • Catbalogan City (Samar) – 94,317
  • Catarman (Northern Samar) – 84,833
  • Maasin City (Southern Leyte) – 81,250
  • Palo (Leyte) – 62,727
  • Borongan City (Eastern Samar) – 62,457
  • Laoang (Northern Samar) – 58,037


The following are the officials of each province and district of the region, all elected in this year’s midterm elections:


  • Gerardo Espina Jr. – Biliran
  • Conrado Nicart Jr. – Eastern Samar
  • Leopoldo Dominico Petilla – Leyte
  • Jose Ong Jr. – Northern Samar
  • Sharee Ann Tan – Samar
  • Roger Mercado – Southern Samar


  • Rogelio Espina – Biliran, lone district
  • Ben Evardone – Eastern Samar, lone district
  • Ferdinand Martin Romualdez – Leyte, 1st district
  • Sergio Apostol – Leyte, 2nd district
  • Andres Salvacion – Leyte, 3rd district
  • Lucy Torres-Gomez – Leyte, 4th district
  • Jose Carlos Cari – Leyte, 5th district
  • Raul Daza – Northern Samar, 1st district
  • Emil Ong – Northern Samar, 2nd district
  • Mel Senen Sarmiento – Samar, 1st district
  • Milagrosa Tan – Samar, 2nd district
  • Damian Mercado – Southern Leyte, lone district


Eastern Visayas registers the 3rd highest percentage of poverty incidence among families in 2012, at 37.2%. Percentage per province are:

 ProvincePer Capita Poverty Threshold (PhP), 2012Poverty Incidence among Families (%), 2012
Biliran 8553 20.7
Eastern Samar 10054 59.4
Leyte 8593 31.9
Northern Samar 9511 43.7
Samar (Western Samar) 7881 36
Southern Leyte 9805 36.4



The Department of Agriculture’s 2011 report said agriculture, fishery and forestry accounted for 20.49% of the regional economy.

In that year, palay and coconut were the leading commodities to agricultural production of Eastern Visayas. The region was 7th in palay production and 2nd in coconut production.

The agricultural land area in Eastern Visayas covers 723,048 hectares, or 31% of the region’s total land area of 2,325,395 hectares.

In the agency’s September report, low volume of fish catch and limited supply of fishery products were noted due to expensive fishing trips and rough seas.

Disaster preparedness

In September, the Department of Public Works and Highways reactivated its “Quick Response Team,” which will focus on monitoring flood-prone areas and to undertake clearing of roads from debris, and emergency opening of damaged roads due to slips/slides to at least one lane for regular traffic to pass. – Reynaldo Santos Jr. /

Help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). Visit Rappler’s list of ongoing relief operations in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, or tweet us @moveph.

Visit for the latest updates on Typhoon Yolanda.

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