Cebu, Or Zebu. I. An island in the Philippine archipelago, between Bohol and Negros, and between lat. 9° 35' and 11° N., and lon. 123° and 123° 50' E. It is a narrow strip of land, stretching N N. E. and S. S. W.; area, about 1,200 sq. m. It is of uneven surface and stony soil, little suited to agriculture, though there are some valleys of remarkable fertility, yielding cotton, sugar, rice, millet, tobacco, and cacao, the last of which is far superior to that of all the other Philippines. The climate, spite of its excessive heat, which is tempered by alternate land and sea breezes, is delightful and very salubrious. Magalhaens discovered the island in 1521, and induced or constrained the people to embrace Christianity; but he was murdered on the adjacent island of Mactan in the same year. In 1565 Legarpi, the first Spanish governor, resorted to coercive measures to reclaim the apostate natives, who after the death of Magalhaens had relapsed into idolatry; but their final and lasting conversion is due to the disinterested zeal and untiring efforts of Urdaneta, a Spanish priest.

II. A town on the above island, capital of a province of the same name, comprising the islands of Cebii, Bohol, Mactan, Batayan, Sicijor, and Camotos, situated on the eastern shore of the island of Mactan. The houses are well built of stone, and are in general handsome and spacious. The most noteworthy among the public edifices are the cathedral and the episcopal palace, both of elegant exterior; and there are besides a hospital for lepers and some school houses. The inhabitants comprise three races: the pure-blooded natives, mostly of the Bisa-yan race, with a few Tagals, though these arc mostly confined to Luzon; Europeans; and mestizos descended from the early Spanish settlers and the native women. The mestizos, though extremely industrious, at the head of the commercial interests, and by far the wealthiest class of the three, are vet constrained to live entirely by themselves; and one half of the town, which is pretty equally divided by a stream or small river, is exclusively occupied by these half-castes, who are held in utter aversion by the pure-blooded races, foreigners as well as natives. Cebii is the seat of a bishopric, which has under its jurisdiction 13 of the 35 provinces comprising the Spanish Philippines, and of the civil and military authorities of the province.

The town carries on a considerable trade, chiefly with Manila.