Ilocos Norte is a narrow plain bounded by water on the north (the Babuyan Chanel) and the west (the South China Sea) and jammed in by the mountains on the east and south (the Cordillera of the provinces of Cagayan, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra and Ilocos Sur).
The culture and history of Ilocos Norte before the 16th century have not been properly studied. Large settlements were encountered by Juan de Salcedo, the first Spaniard in this region, in Laoag and the vicinities of Bacarra, Batac and Badoc. The province of Ilocos Norte was born in 1818 when a Royal Decree divided the old Ilocos province into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
There is a variety of landscapes: sand dunes, rocky riverbeds, hardwood forests, tobacco fields, vegetable farms and rice lands. Harsh and forbidding, the land is nevertheless productive to those who toil.
The land is home not only to the Ilocanos but also other groups who call themselves Itneg or Yapayao (also known as Isneg or Isnag). These people with distinct languages and traditions inhabit the highlands to the east south pf the province.