Moros (mōrˈōz) [key] [Span., = Moors], group of Muslim natives, numbering about 3.8 million, of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan in the Philippines and of Borneo, who were converted in the great missionary extension of Islam from India in the 15th and 16th cent. They are largely of Malayan stock and are neither ethnic nor linguistic units. The Moros are conspicuous as a fierce, proud people, and they long maintained enmity toward the Christian Filipinos.
After the Spanish conquered (1564) the Philippines, the Moros waged constant war, which continued even after the United States took over (1898) the islands. Within the Republic of the Philippines they have pressed for autonomy since the 1960s, but in most regions where the Moros live they are now outnumbered by Christians, who strongly oppose the idea of a Muslim-led government. The associated fighting by Moro guerrillas has persisted into the 21st cent., despite a number of peace agreements with various groups. In 1990 an autonomous, four-province region was created in the S Philippines; as expanded in 2001 it consists of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces (the Sulu Archipelago) and two provinces and Marawi City on Mindanao.
See M. Mednick, Encampment of the Lake (1965); A. C. Glang, Muslim Secession or Integration? (1969).