Davao (dävou`), city (1990 pop. 849,947), Davao del Sur prov., SE Mindanao, the Philippines, at the mouth of the Davao River on Davao Gulf. The chief commercial center and major port of Mindanao, Davao experienced much industrial growth in the 1960s, and its population almost tripled. The city serves a prosperous region that produces hemp, coffee, cacao, and timber, and it has an important wood products industry. Before World War II, Davao was noted for its very large Japanese population. The city and port were seized by Japanese landing parties on Dec. 20, 1941, and used as a base for operations in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). In 1945, after most of the Philippines had been liberated, Japanese forces clung stubbornly to the city, and its recovery involved heavy fighting. Davao has a land area of 854 sq mi (2,211 sq km), making it one of the largest cities in the world. The volcanic Mt. Apo, the highest (9,690 ft/2,954 m) peak in the islands, is within its boundaries. Davao is the seat of the Univ. of Mindanao.