Ancient Pampanga's territorial area included portions of the modern provinces of Tarlac, Bataan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan. Pampanga was re-organized as a province by the Spaniards on December 11, 1571. For better administration and taxation purposes, the Spanish authorities subdivided Pampanga into pueblos, which were further subdivided into districts (barrios) and in some cases into royal and private estates (encomiendas).
Due to excessive abuses committed by some encomenderos, King Philip II of Spain in 1574 prohibited the further awarding of private estates, but this decree was not fully enforced until 1620. In a report of Philippine encomiendas on June 20, 1591, Governor-General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas reported to the Crown that La Pampanga's encomiendas were Bataan, Betis y Lubao, Macabebe, Candaba, Apalit, Calumpit, Malolos, Binto, Guiguinto, Caluya, Bulacan and Mecabayan. The encomiendas of La Pampanga at that time had eighteen thousand six hundred and eighty whole tributes.
Pampanga, which is about 850 square miles (2,200 km2) in area and inhabited by more than 1.5 million people, had its present borders drawn in 1873. During the Spanish regime it was one of the richest Philippine provinces. Manila and its surrounding region were then primarily dependent on Kapampangan agricultural, fishery and forestry products as well as on the supply of skilled workers. As other Luzon provinces were created due to increases in population, some well-established Pampanga towns were lost to new emerging provinces in Central Luzon.
During the 17th century, The Dutch recruited men from Pampanga as mercenaries who served the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, known as Papangers part of the larger Mardijkers community. Their legacy can be found in North Jakarta, however, there are few traces of their descendants, except for a small community in Kampung Tugu.
The historic province of Bataan which was founded in 1754 under the administration of Spanish Governor-General Pedro Manuel Arandia, absorbed from the province of Pampanga the municipalities of Abucay, Balanga (now a city), Dinalupihan, Llana Hermosa, Orani, Orion, Pilar, and Samal.
During the British occupation of Manila (1762-1764), Bacolor became the provisional Spanish colonial capital and military base.
The old Pampanga towns of Aliaga, Cabiao, Gapan, San Antonio and San Isidro were ceded to the province of Nueva Ecija in 1848 during the term of Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua. The municipality of San Miguel de Mayumo of Pampanga was yielded to the province of Bulacan in the same provincial boundary configuration in 1848.
In 1860, the northern towns of Bamban, Capas, Concepcion, Victoria, Tarlac, Mabalacat, Magalang, Porac and Floridablanca were separated from Pampanga and were placed under the jurisdiction of a military command called Comandancia Militar de Tarlac. However, in 1873, the four latter towns were returned to Pampanga and the other five became municipalities of the newly created Province of Tarlac.
On December 8, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Clark Air Base marking the beginning of the invasion of Pampanga. Between 1941 and 1942, occupying Japanese forces began entering Pampanga.
During the counter-insurgencies under the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1944, Kapampangan guerrilla fighters and the Hukbalahap Communist guerrillas fought side by side in the province of Pampanga, attacking and retreating the Japanese Imperial forces for over three years of fighting and invasion.
The establishment of the military general headquarters and military camp bases of the Philippine Commonwealth Army was active from 1935 to 1946. The Philippine Constabulary was active from 1935 to 1942 and 1944 to 1946 in the province of Pampanga. During the military engagements of the anti-Japanese Imperial military operations in central Luzon from 1942 to 1945 in the province of Bataan, Bulacan, Northern Tayabas (now Aurora), Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales, the local guerrilla resistance fighters and Hukbalahap Communist guerrillas, helped the U.S. military forces fight the Imperial Japanese armed forces.
In the 1945 liberation of Pampanga, Kapampangan guerrilla fighters and the Hukbalahap Communist guerrillas supported combat forces from Filipino and American ground troops in attacking Japanese Imperial forces during the Battle of Pampanga until the end of the Second World War. Local military operations soldiers and officers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army 2nd, 26th, 3rd, 32nd, 33rd, 35th, 36th and 37th Infantry Division and the Philippine Constabulary 3rd Infantry Regiment recaptured and liberated the province of Pampanga and fought against the Japanese Imperial forces during the Battle of Pampanga.
After the Second World War, operations in the main province of Pampanga was downfall insurgencies and conflicts between the Philippine Government forces and the Hukbalahap Communist rebels on 1946 to 1954 during the Hukbalahap Rebellion.
The June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo displaced a large number of people with the submersion of whole towns and villages by massive lahar floods.
Pampanga covers a total area of 2,002.20 square kilometres (773.05 sq mi) occupying the south-central section of the Central Luzon region. When Angeles City is included for geographical purposes, the province's area is 2,062.47 square kilometres (796.32 sq mi). The province is bordered by Tarlac to the north, Nueva Ecija to the northeast, Bulacan to the east, the Manila Bay to the central-south, Bataan to the southwest, and Zambales to the northwest.
Its terrain is relatively flat with one distinct mountain, Mount Arayat and the notable Pampanga River. Among its municipalities, Porac has the largest land mass with 314 square kilometres (121 sq mi); Candaba comes in second with 176 square kilometres (68 sq mi); followed by Floridablanca with 175 square kilometres (68 sq mi). Santo Tomas, with an area of 21 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), is the smallest.
The province of Pampanga has two distinct climates, rainy and dry. The rainy or wet season normally begins in May and runs through October, while the rest of the year is the dry season. The warmest period of the year occurs between March and April, while the coolest period is from December through February.
Pampanga comprises 19 municipalities and three cities (one highly urbanized and two component).
The population of Pampanga in the 2015 census was 2,198,110 people, with a density of 1,100 inhabitants per square kilometre or 2,800 inhabitants per square mile. If Angeles City is included for geographical purposes, the population is 2,609,744, with a density of 1,265/km2 (3,277/sq mi). The native inhabitants of Pampanga are generally referred to as Kapampangans (alternatively spelled Capampañgan), Pampangos or Pampangueños.
The whole population of Pampanga speak the language of Kapampangan, which is one of the Central Luzon languages along with the Sambalic languages. A few also speak Tagalog, especially in places close to the border of Bulacan. English is mainly spoken and used as a second language. There are also a few Sambal speakers in the province, especially near the border of Zambales.
The province of Pampanga is composed of many religious groups, but it is predominantly Roman Catholic, followed by the Members Church of God International, colloquially called Ang Dating Daan headed by Eliseo Soriano, with its headquarters in Apalit, Pampanga.
Other prominent Christian groups include the Aglipayan Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, United Methodist, Church of the Nazarene, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch), Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus, Jesus is Lord Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Evangelicals, Aglipayan, Jesus Miracle Crusade and many others.
Islam is also present in the province, mainly due to migrants originating from the south, as well as Buddhism, which is practiced by a few Filipinos of Chinese descent.
Farming and fishing are the two main industries. Major products include rice, corn, sugarcane, and tilapia. Pampanga is the tilapia capital of the country because of its high production reaching 214,210.12 metric tons in 2015. In addition to farming and fishing, the province supports thriving cottage industries that specialize in wood carving, furniture making, guitars and handicrafts. Every Christmas season, the province of Pampanga, especially in the capital city of San Fernando becomes the center of a thriving industry centered on handcrafted lighted lanterns called parols that display a kaleidoscope of light and color. Other industries include its casket industry and the manufacturing of all-purpose vehicles in the municipality of Santo Tomas.
The province is famous for its sophisticated culinary work. Kapampangans are well known for their culinary creations. Famous food products range from the mundane to the exotic. Roel's Meat Products, Pampanga's Best and Mekeni Food are among the better known meat brands of the country producing Kapampangan favorites such as pork and chicken tocinos, beef tapa, hotdogs, and longganizas (Philippine-style sausages and cured meats).
Specialty foods such as the siopao, pandesal, tutong, lechon (roasted pig) and its sarsa (sauce) are popular specialty foods in the region. The more exotic betute tugak (stuffed frog), kamaru (mole crickets) cooked adobo, bulanglang (pork cooked in guava juice), lechon kawali and bringhe (a green sticky rice dish like paella) are a mainstay in Kapampangan feasts.
Native sweets and delicacies like pastillas, turonnes de casuy, buro, are the most sought after by Filipinos including a growing number of tourists who enjoy authentic Kapampangan cuisine. The famous cookie in Mexico, Pampanga, Panecillos de San Nicolas, which is known as the mother of all Philippine cookies, is made here, famously made by Lillian Borromeo. The cookies are made with arrowroot, sugar, coconut milk and butter and are blessed in Catholic parishes every year on the feast of San Nicolas Tolentino. The cookies are believed to have a healing power and bestow good luck and are sometimes crumbled into rice fields before planting.
Tourism is a growing industry in the province of Pampanga. Clark Freeport is home to Clark International Airport, designated as the Philippines' future premier gateway. Other developing industries include semiconductor manufacturing for electronics and computers mostly located within the freeport.
Within the Clark Special Economic Zone are well-established hotels and resorts. Popular tourist destinations include St. Peter Shrine in Apalit, Mt. Arayat National Park in San Juan Bano, Arayat, the Paskuhan Village in the City of San Fernando, the Casino Filipino in Angeles City and, for nature and wildlife, "Paradise Ranch and Zoocobia Fun Zoo" in Clark. Well-known annual events include the Giant Lantern Festival in December, the hot air balloon festival in Clarkfield in February, the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites celebrated two days before Easter, and the Aguman Sanduk in Minalin celebrated on the afternoon of New Year's Day.
Telephone services are provided by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), Digitel, Datelcom, the Evangelista Telephone Company, and the Pampanga Telecom Company in the town of Macabebe. The province has 24 public telegraph offices distributed among its towns while the facilities of PT&T and RCPI were set up to serve the business centers in Angeles City, San Fernando City and Guagua.
Several Internet service providers are available. These include the Angeles Computer Network Specialist, Information Resources Network System, Inc., [Mosaic communications Inc., Net Asia Angeles City, Phil World On Line and Comclark Network and Technology Corp.
United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx) provide international courier services. Their hubs are in the Clark Freeport Zone. They are complemented by four local couriers operating as the communication and baggage of the province. There are three postal district offices and 35 post office stations distributed in the 20 municipalities and two cities of the province.
Potable water supply in the province reaches the populace through three levels namely: Level I (point source system), Level II (communal faucet system), and Level III (individual connections). A well or spring is the pinpointed water source in areas where houses are few as the system is only designed to serve 15 to 25 households. As of 1997, there were 128,571 Level I water system users in the province. The communal faucet system (Level II) serves the rural areas while the Level III system is managed by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). The system provides individual house connections to all second and first class private subdivisions.
Electric power is distributed to majority of the towns through the distribution centers of the Pampanga Electric Cooperative (PELCO) which include PELCO I, II, III. Small parts of Candaba and Macabebe are also supplied by Manila Electric Company (MERALCO). Angeles City and small parts of Mabalacat, Villa de Bacolor, and Porac are supplied by Angeles Electric Corporation (AEC). City of San Fernando is supplied by San Fernando Electric Company (SFELAPCO).
Power is also transmitted to the province through transmission lines and substations that are located within the province, such as the Mexico and Clark substations, and Duhat-Hermosa/Hermosa-Balintawak, Mexico-Hermosa, Hermosa-San Jose transmission lines, etc, all of which are operated and maintained by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
The province of Pampanga is strategically located at the crossroads of central Luzon and is highly accessible by air and land. The province is home to two airstrips: Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, which is used by the military, and Clark International Airport in Clark Freeport Zone. Pampanga has five municipal ports that function as fish landing centers. These are in the municipalities of Guagua, Macabebe, Masantol, Minalin, and Sasmuan.
Land travel to Pampanga is provided by highways and by buses. Buses that travel the routes of Manila-Bataan, Manila-Zambales, Manila-Tarlac, Manila-Nueva Ecija, Manila-Bulacan-Pampanga, and Manila-Pampanga-Dagupan serve as connections with the nearby provinces and Metro Manila.
The 84 kilometres (52 mi) North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) extends from Balintawak in Quezon City, Metro Manila, to Santa Ines in Mabalacat. It passes through the cities and municipalities of Apalit, San Simon, Santo Tomas, San Fernando, Mexico, Angeles, and ends on Santa Ines in Mabalacat.
The 94 kilometres (58 mi) four-lane Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to date, is the longest toll expressway in the Philippines. Its southern terminus is in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales and passes through the Clark Freeport Zone in two interchanges: Clark North and Clark South. The expressway is linked to the North Luzon Expressway through the Mabalacat Interchange. Its northern terminus is located at the Central Techno Park in Tarlac City, Tarlac.
Aside from the expressways, national highways also serve the province. Two major national highways serves Pampanga, the MacArthur Highway (N2) and Jose Abad Santos Avenue (N3). Secondary and tertiary national roads, and provincial roads complement the highway backbone.
Throughout the year, various towns and cities within the Province of Pampanga celebrates feasts honoring their patron saint. These fiesta days are listed below:
In addition to the town fiesta many barangays within each municipality celebrates a local fiesta honoring a particular patron saint.Nabulod Upland Zipline (Floridablanca)Palakol (Floridablanca)Mount Arayat National Park (Arayat)Scenic Candaba Swamps and Wild Duck & Birds Sanctuary (Candaba)Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake (Pampanga/Tarlac/Zambales)Dara Falls (Porac) — Pampanga's version of the Pagsanjan Falls of LagunaMiyamit Falls & Porac Peak (Porac)Hot Spring of Sitio Puning (Porac via Sapang Bato, Angeles City)Maruring Falls (Mabalacat City via Clark)Lahar Canyon (Porac & Villa de Bacolor)Muñoz Park (Minalin)Lubao Bamboo Hub (Lubao)
Like other Provinces in the Philippines, Pampanga is governed by a Governor and Vice Governor who are elected to three-year terms. The Governor is the executive head and leads the Province's departments in executing the ordinances and improving public services. The Vice Governor heads a legislative council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) consisting of Board Members from the Districts.
Just as the national government, the provincial government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. The judicial branch is administered solely by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The LGUs have control of the executive and legislative branch.
The executive branch is composed of the Governor for the province, mayors for the cities and municipalities, and the barangay captains for the barangays. The provincial assembly for the provinces, Sangguniang Panlungsod (city assembly) for the cities, Sangguniang Bayan (town assembly) for the municipalities, Sangguniang Barangay (barangay council), and the Sangguniang Kabataan for the youth sector.
The seat of Government is vested upon the Governor and other elected officers who hold office at the Provincial Capitol building. The Sanguniang Panlalawigan is the center of legislation.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines recognizes Pampanga regional trial courts and metropolitan or municipal trial courts within the province and towns, that have an over-all jurisdiction in the populace of the province and towns, respectively.
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", as amended, created Regional, Metropolitan, Municipal Trial and Circuit Courts. The Third Judicial Region includes RTCs in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Palayan and San Jose, inter alia: xxx. There shall be - (c) Seventy-five Regional Trial judges shall be commissioned for the Third Judicial Region: Twenty-two branches (Branches XLI to LXII) for the province of Pampanga and the city of Angeles, Branches XLI to XLVIII with seats at San Fernando, Branches XLIX to LIII at Guagua, Branches LIV and LV at Macabebe, and Branches LVI to LXII at Angeles City;
The law also created Metropolitan Trial Court in each metropolitan area established by law, a Municipal Trial Court in each of the other cities or municipalities, and a Municipal Circuit Trial Court in each circuit comprising such cities and/or municipalities as are grouped together pursuant to law: three branches for Cabanatuan City; in every city which does not form part of a metropolitan area, there shall be a Municipal Trial Court with one branch, except as hereunder provided: Three branches for Angeles City;
In each of the municipalities that are not comprised within a metropolitan area and a municipal circuit there shall be a Municipal Trial Court which shall have one branch, except as hereunder provided: Four branches for San Fernando and two branches for Guagua, both of Pampanga.Lilia PinedaRufino Jiao Santos — born in Guagua, Pampanga, Archbishop of Manila from 1953 to 1973.Eliseo Soriano — televangelist of Ang Dating Daan and the Over-all Servant of Members Church of God International which its main headquarters is located in Apalit, Pampanga.Honesto Ongtioco — born in San Fernando, Pampanga, bishop of Balanga from 1998 to 2003 and Cubao since 2003.Ato Agustin — Filipino professional basketball player and coach, from Lubao, Pampanga.Victonara Galang — Filipino volleyball athlete.Efren "Bata" Reyes — billiards player from Angeles City.Jayson Castro William - Filipino professional basketball player from Guagua, Pampanga.Japeth Aguilar - Filipino professional basketball player from Sasmuan, Pampanga.Arwind Santos - Filipino professional basketball player from Lubao, Pampanga.Calvin Abueva - Filipino professional basketball player from Angeles City.Kristine Johnson — Filipino-American co-anchor at WCBS-TV, born in Clark Air Base.