The province of Ilocos Sur is where the Ilocos Region's myriad of cultures and histories converge to become a living museum of a spirited past. A national shrine, a national landmark, a national museum, heritage museums, ancestral houses, period houses, cobble-stoned streets – they all share space in the timeless land of Ilocos Sur.
Found in the province is the historic town of Vigan, which was inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List in November 1999. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines and from China with those from Europe to create a unique culture and townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. Its Kamestizoan District is replete with ancestral houses with ancient tiled roofs, massive hardwood floorings, ballustrades and azoteas in varying Spanish-Mexican-Chinese architectural styles.
Centuries-old Sta. Maria Church, declared a National Landmark, was used as a fortress during the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Tirad Pass, declared a National Shrine, had been the last stand of the Filipino Revolutionary Forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo during the same period. Bessang Pass served as the backdoor to General Yamashita's last ditch defense during the last stage of World War II.
People here are engaged in farming, producing food crops, mostly rice, corn, vegetable, rootcrops, and fruits. Non-food crops include tobacco, cotton, and tigergrass. Cottage industries include loomweaving, furniture making, jewelry making, ceramics, blacksmithing, and food processing.