Region on the northern end of the island of Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. To the west is the South China Sea, to the north the Luzon Strait separates Cordilerra and Taiwan. The area is mountainous and rich in gold.
Many tribal peoples inhabite the Cordilerra. There are seven ethno-linguistic groups living in five provinces. The common language is Ilocano. The main crop is rice.
In 1620, Spain conquered Luzon and the multitude of islands nearby (naming the new colony for King Philip). In 1898, the Philippines declared independence but the United States quickly established its authority and began mining the gold of the Cordilerra. However, it wasn't until 1937 that a gold rush began in earnest. Following the war, Filipino independence was recognised but exploitation of the mines continued. Many native people have been evicted from their homes to make way for mines and received little benefit from the proceeds.
In 1984 the Cordilerra Peoples' Alliance was founded to protest the exploitation of ancestral land and to campaign for a degree of autonomy for the region. Hydroelectric dams were also built, resulting in the forced resettlement of thousands of tribal people. In 1995 foreign corporations were granted further mining consessions (about 1 million hectares).