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Moros(mōr`ōz) [Span.,=Moors], group of Muslim natives, numbering about 3.8 million, of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan in the Philippines and of Borneo, who were converted in the great missionary extension of Islam from India in the 15th and 16th cent. They are largely of Malayan stock and are neither ethnic nor linguistic units. The Moros are conspicuous as a fierce, proud people, and they long maintained enmity toward the Christian Filipinos.
After the Spanish conquered (1564) the Philippines, the Moros waged constant war, which continued even after the United States took over (1898) the islands. Within the Republic of the Philippines they have pressed for autonomy since the 1960s, but in most regions where the Moros live they are now outnumbered by Christians, who strongly oppose the idea of a Muslim-led government. The associated fighting by Moro guerrillas has persisted into the 21st cent., despite a number of peace agreements with various groups. In 1990 an autonomous, four-province region was created in the S Philippines; as expanded in 2001 it consists of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces (the Sulu Archipelago, not including Isabela city) and two provinces and the city of Marawi on Mindanao. An agreement in 2014 with the largest Moro guerrilla group called for superseding the autonomous region by 2016 with a new one, to be called Bangsamoro, with somewhat enlarged territory and increased autonomy. Legislation establishing the region was not passed, however, until 2018, and following a 2019 referendum it came into existence. The new region also includes Cotabato City and some areas of Cotabato prov. In May, 2017, a failed government raid to seize a fundamentalist Islamic militant leader in Marawi led to five months of devastating fighting in Marawi between the military and hundreds of militants.
See M. Mednick, Encampment of the Lake (1965); A. C. Glang, Muslim Secession or Integration? (1969).