The flat marshland composing the estuary of the Agusan River in northeastern Mindanao is inhabited by a group of people now known as the Butuanon. The native Butuanon, however, would refer to himself rather as a “Lapaknon” or a person who lives in the swampy areas in Libertad. The people and folk historians, on the other hand, believe that they are an offshoot of Manobo populations of the Agusan Valley. The language of the Butuanon is more closely related to Cebuano than any of the Manobo tongues. In fact, the languages of Butuanon, Tausug of Jolo, and Kamayo of Bislig have a very close affinity.

       Linguistic data suggest that the Tausug moved into the Sulu archipelago from the general area of Butuan during the eleventh century, at a period of intense trade between Agusan and the Chinese, as shown by the very rich archaeological materials in the area. The Kamayo might have developed from the very early connections of Butuan with Caraga on the eastern coast of Mindanao.

       The population (24,566 NSO 1990) is at present highly urbanized with a defined Visayan culture highly influenced by the Cebuano. Much of the production of the area is in rice, coconuts, logging, fishing, and fish culture.

Distribution of Ethnic Groups by Provinces
(Arrangement: Population count)
Total National Population 34,566
Agusan del N. 10,705
Agusan del S. 3,310
Aurora 20
Benguet 285
Bohol 3,576
Bukidnon 1,087
Camiguin 248
Cavite 10
Cebu 1,744
Davao 360
Davao del S. 1,075
Davao Or. 259
Ifugao 10
Ilocos N. 10
Ilocos S. 66
La Union 12
Lanao del N. 438
Lanao del S. 35
Leyte 30
Maguindanao 32
Masbate 22
Misamis Occ. 1,375
Misamis Or. 1,399
Mt. Province 273
Negros Occ. 703
Negros Or. 2,183
N. Cotabato 81
N. Samar 10
Or. Mindoro 552
Palawan 50
Pampanga 10
Pangasinan 9
Quirino 6
Siquijor 1,360
S. Cotabato 208
S. Leyte 210
S. Kudarat 44
Sulu 406
Surigao del N. 177
Surigao del S. 179
Tawi-Tawi 139
Zambales 20
Zamboanga N. 852
Zamboanga S. 781
Manila 94
Malabon 40
Muntinlupa 11
Pasay 29
Quezon City 31