The archipelago is divided into two provinces; Sulu the capital of Jolo (ho-lo) and Tawi-tawi with Bongao as the capital.
It is further subdivided into the Jolo, Tawi-tawi, Pangutaran, and Sibutu groups of island.
Cagayan de Tawi-tawi group lies off the coast of Borneo, midway between Palawan and the Sulu archipelago. There are still dangerous waters for sailors.
Sama is a generic term covering four district groups of people, sharing the Sama language that inhabit the islands south of the Jolo group; the Sama Talon, Sama Gimba, Sama Laut, and Sama Pala peoples.
The Sama Laut means the sea Sama and often referred to in English as sea gypsies are generally referred to as Badjao.
There are still communities of Badjao living boats in the southern part of the archipelago.
Most Badjao are Muslim, animist beliefs and practices are still observed.
Sitangkai in the Sibutu group is known as the Venice of the Philippines, as many Badjao floating communities have settled there.
The people of Sulu were the first in the Philippines to be converted to Islam in the 14th century. It is remained a stronghold of Islam during the Spanish era and in the early 20th century.
Bongao is the capital of Tawi-tawi province derives its name from the Tausug word bangaw means heron.
Bongao’s wildlife is less famous for herons than for non keys in great numbers on Mt. Bongao a sheer mountainous outcrop behind the township.
This sacred mountain is the site of a festival celebrated by Muslim and Christians alike in the second week of October. There is a small museum in the old Spanish fort near in Bongao.
A busy market sells everything from bolo knives to turtle eggs eaten for their supposed powers as an aphrodisiac.
There are also several simple lodging houses in Bongao.The beach side inn that is near in the Harbor, and the Kasulutan Beach Resort that is 2km from the town.
This island is only few minutes away from the Sitangkai Island, the Venice of the Philippines.
The sheik Karimul Makeup Mosque was built in 1380 is one of the oldest mosques in the archipelago. The residents of Simunol Island have multi-ethic features. There are no hotels to stay .