This region has a Christian majority, in contrast to the Muslim majority in neighboring Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Most people either speak Cebuano or Chavacano (a Spanish-based creole).
The first inhabitants on Zamboanga Peninsula are the Subanon people, an animist ethnic group. Part of the peninsula became Muslim after an invasion by the Sultanate of Sulu. The Spanish arrived in 1569, and became an important outpost to protect the rest of the Philippines from Muslim marauders. The Spaniards faced constant war from the Muslim Filipino (Moro) pirates and warriors. While many towns still have heritage churches, many are repeatedly damaged or destroyed by the marauding Muslims.
At the final stages of the Philippine Revolution, where the Americans invaded the Philippines, Zamboanga was a short-lived republic, which was eventually annexed into the rest of Mindanao, as part of the Moro Province under the American colonial government. Zamboanga became a separate province as the Moro Province is renamed into the Mindanao and Sulu department.
Zamboanga province, which included the provinces of Sulu Archipelago, composed the region of Western Mindanao until the formation of the ARMM in 1988. The province has since been split up into three provinces retaining "Zamboanga" in their name, while Zamboanga City became an independent city. Isabela City remains part of Zamboanga Peninsula administratively, while surrounding Basilan joined an expanded ARMM.
Zamboanga International Airport (ZAM IATA) is the main port of entry, but despite its name, there are no international flights, except for short-lived services from Sabah in Malaysia. The provincial capitals of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, Pagadian and Dipolog, respectively, has smaller airports, served by daily flights from Manila or Cebu.
Rural Transit connects most cities and provincial capitals in Zamboanga from Cagayan de Oro.
Zamboanga City is served by ferries from Luzon and the Sulu islands, and internationally, from Sandakan in Malaysia. Dapitan has frequent ferries from Dumaguete and Cebu.
While Zamboanga Peninsula is Christian-dominated, there remains risks from the spillover of the insurgency in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In 2013, Zamboanga City was sieged by the then-insurgent Moro National Liberation Front. Chances of a terrorist attack remain low elsewhere, but likely in areas bordering ARMM.