Leyte lāˈtē, –tā [key], island (1990 pop. 1,689,756), 2,785 sq mi (7,213 sq km), one of the Visayan Islands, the Philippines, between Luzon and Mindanao. A fertile agricultural land, it is the nation's leading producer of sweet potatoes and bananas and a major producer of corn and peanuts. It has commercial coconut plantations and extensive forest reserves; lumbering is an important industry. In World War II, Leyte was occupied by the Japanese in early 1942. It was the scene of the first main American landing (Oct. 20, 1944) in the campaign to recover the Philippines. That landing was followed by the battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct. 23–26, 1944), widely considered one of the greatest naval engagements of all time, in which American naval forces destroyed the Japanese fleet. The island has suffered the effects of at times devastating and deadly tropical storms and typhoons, most notably in 1991 and 2013.

See T. J. Cutler, The Battle of Leyte Gulf (1994) and E. Thomas, Sea of Thunder (2006).

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