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Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Mindanao > Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is in the southern Philippines.

Travel Warning WARNING: A fierce armed conflict between Muslim militia and the Philippine government went on in this region from the 1970s well into the new century. In 2009 this region was declared the world's most hazardous area for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 18 reporters dead in a massacre that claimed the lives of almost 60 people.

In 2012 a peace accord was signed between the government and the most important militia group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF, and things have certainly been calmer since then. However, there are other militia groups that have not signed on to the peace deal; they are mostly quite small but also well-armed and quite radical, so they pose a significant threat.

In May 2017, martial law was imposed on all of Mindanao; people had been killed and buildings set ablaze by factions supporting Da'esh in Marawi. The martial law period has since been exxtended to the end of 2018.

Travelling to this region is strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to visit, inform your embassy, remain cautious at all times and avoid public gatherings. If you must go, see also War zone safety.

(Information last updated May 2017)


Map of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
ARMM location

The ARMM includes the three provinces of the Sulu Islands:

plus two provinces on Mindanao Island:

Other areas, such as the Zamboanga Peninsula, have a Muslim majority and some, such as Palawan, have substantial Muslim minorities. When the ARMM was formed these regions were offered the chance to join it, but voted not to.


  • 1 Cotabato City is the capital of the ARMM, but is not included in the region
  • Jolo , on Sulu Island

Other destinationsEdit


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Tulay Mosque, Jolo, Sulu province
Islamic Center in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur province




Stay safeEdit

There remain significant risks for travel in the region; the political situation has been unstable for many years and remains dangerous. Most foreign governments advise tourists to avoid unneccessary travel to the region because of ethnic-religious tension. In some cases, foreigners who visited the region have been abducted or killed by separatist insurgents, including two Canadians beheaded by the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf. Military presence and operations prevail in many areas, and there are chances of being an unintended victim of insurgent attacks.


Most local laws in this region are based on Sharia: alcoholic drinks, pork and homosexuality are banned. Also, do not forget to dress conservatively. Women may need to wear a hijab, but this is not required for non-Muslims. Legs and arms may need to be covered completely.

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