The name of the city “LAOAG” is a derivation of the Ilocano term “lawag”, which means light/brightness. According to history, Laoag has a clear, blue skyline. It was from this premise, perhaps, that the place was given the name “Laoag.”
Historical records show that Laoag was organized as a town in 1585, becoming the first parish and first town in the northern portion of the old Ilocos – Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union.
Laoag became a city in January 1966 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4584. It has remained the capital city of Ilocos Norte up to the present time.
Laoag City has a total population of 99,880 for the year 2005 as per PopCom official report. In 2000, the total inhabitant of the city was 94,446, an increase of 5,434. Based on the 2000 and 2005 intercensal periods, the Average Annual Growth Rate of the city is 1.12%. As per record from 1903 to 2005, the highest annual growth rate of 2.04 % was registered in 1970.
The number of households is 19,976 and the average household size is five (5) persons per household. Male-female ratio is 1:1; Crude Birth rate is 31 per 1000 Population while Death rate is 4 per 1000 Population.
The growth trends over the last 5 years was primarily due to birth and in-migration (4.78%).In the city of Laoag, of the 63.70% Working Age Group as of 2000, 48.70% were male. Of the 36.30% Dependent Population, 50.68% belonged to the female specie.
Laoag City has a total land area of 12,747.35 hectares or 127.4735 square kilometers. It consists of 80 barangays, 30 of which are urban and 50 are rural barangays. 70.61% of which is disposable and 15.19% are protected areas. The land available for development is 1,596.76 hectares as per land use plan
An area of 930.847 hectares is occupied by urban core or the poblacion, while 11,816.501 hectares are occupied by the rural barangays.
As seen in the map on the right, the black colored area represents the tsunami prone area, the red area represents the siltation/erosion prone area and the blue area is the flood prone area.
The city, which is located at the west central part of the province of Ilocos Norte, becomes a natural water drain during heavy rains. Most flood prone areas are those along the river and other water bodies within the city. Flooding, however, is now contained because of the construction of the Integrated Drainage System and the SABO Dam and Flood Control. Although Laoag City is along the South China Sea, the possibility of experiencing a tsunami or tidal wave is remote.
The Bangui Fault Line runs along the province from Bangui going southeast passing through Vintar, the municipality just east of Laoag.
Laoag is strategically located at the west central part of the province of Ilocos Norte, along the Manila North Road, making it accessible by land to nearby provinces, to Metro Manila and to the rest of Luzon. Laoag, the capital of Ilocos Norte plays the following functional roles in relation to other towns, to the Province and to the region:
Educational, Commercial, Information and Communication Center of the province, Accessible in an International Airport, Accessibility to an International Seaport, Identified as ECOZONE by PEZA Law (R.A. 7916)