Sibutu remained under Spanish rule until 1900.
Tawi-Tawi was previously part of the province of Sulu. On September 11, 1973, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 302, the new province of Tawi-Tawi was officially created, separate from Sulu.The seat of the provincial government was established in Bongao.
The name of Tawi-Tawi is a projection of the Malay word "jauh" meaning "far." Prehistoric travelers from the Asian mainland would repeat the word as "jaui-jaui" to mean "far away" because of the distance of the islands from the continent of Asia. The word "Tawi-Tawi" was picked up to later become the official name of the province.
Agriculture, fishing, and agar-agar farming are the leading source of livelihood of the people of Tawi-Tawi, with quite a number engaged in the barter trade business. Copra is the top agricultural product, followed by root crops, fruits, and vegetables.
Cebu Pacific began operating a daily flight from Zamboanga City to Tawi-Tawi Province on October 14, 2011, utilizing its 150-seater Airbus A319 aircraft. In 2012, Air Philippines also started operating flights to and from Zamboanga city.
The oldest mosque in the Philippines can be found in Tawi-Tawi, as well as ethnic groups Sama, Jama Mapun, Tausug and Badjaos. It also serves as a gateway to Sabah, Malaysia.