The whole archdiocese is of Visayan-speaking populace: either speaking Hiligaynon or Ilonggo dialect dialect of people mostly from Iloilo province and other areas of Panay and Cebuano. The majority spoke Ilonggo because many parishes have more Ilonggo population. For the areas near Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat province, there are many Muslims- coming from various ethnic origins - like Maguindanaon, Maranao etc.
According to the "Brief History of Archdiocese of Cotabato" from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Philippines website, the territory now known as "the Cotabatos" was very sparsely populated during pre-Spanish times and people lived in scattered settlements of Maguindanao Muslims, mountain tribes, and Chinese traders. For centuries, few have settled in the area due to frequent encounters with the Spanish military and native inhabitants who resisted Spanish colonization.
In 1913, the American government opened up the area to migrants from the northern and central Philippines. Migrations of many Christians continued up to the late 1960s. Most of the archdiocese's inhabitants are Christian migrants from outside Mindanao.
Cotabato became known as the rice granary of southern Philippines. Rich rice harvests were attributed to the Rio Grande de Mindanao river which crosses Cotabato at various points and leaves silted soil that produces fertile rice lands. Since the province lies outside the country's "typhoon belt," there is also no damage to crops due to seasonal tropical storms. Fishing is also a main source of livelihood.
The single province of Cotabato was politically subdivided into two provinces in 1967, forming the provinces of Cotabato and South Cotabato. More subdivisions followed, forming Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces.
The Prelature of Cotabato was established under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on Aug. 11, 1950, while the Cotabatos were still one province with Cotabato City as the capital. When Cotabato prelature was elevated to a diocese in 1976 it remained a suffragan of Cagayan de Oro archdiocese. After the subdivision of the Cotabatos, the Prelature of Marbel was established in South Cotabato. On Nov. 5, 1979, the Diocese of Cotabato was elevated to archdiocese.
The political climate is run by Muslims in most urbanized areas. However, in some Visayan-controled territories political leaders come from Christian groups.
There are daily flights for Manila and regular boat trips to various places in Manila and the Visayas. Highways are well-built connecting the local people to Davao and General Santos City. So, Cotabato City is accesible by land, air and sea.
The archdiocesan territory covers 9,575 square kilometers and includes Cotabato City, parts of the province of Cotabato, most of the province of Sultan Kudarat, and almost the whole province of Maguindanao
The Ecclesiastical Province of Cotabato comprises the Metropolitan Cotabato archdiocese with suffragan dioceses of Marbel and Kidapawan.
The daily wage is about 270 Philippines Pesos (US$5.40 as of September 2006) in city centers. In most rural areas it is only 170 Philippines Pesos (US$3.40 as of September 2006) a day. Most people rely on farming: rice, corn, vegetables. Agri-forestry is booming in areas where most farmers transform their rice lands into mango plantations and farms of other fruit trees.
In most areas, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications cellular sites have been built and communication access is good. There are many cable-operated television (TV) systems in most areas, direct TV (Dream Satellite Television) in many houses. Additionally, there are Catholic AM and FM radio stations and many other FM and AM radio stations.
Interreligious dialogue is a common experience of many in most Muslim-Christian parishes.
Many of the cultural shows in the area are ethnical in nature; depending on the places, unique and particular music, dance, costume are somehow being observed.