The early settlers were the Tingguians belonging to the Bago, Itneg, Masadjit, lbanao, Indayas tribes, who latter intermarried with the immigrants from Ilocos Sur. The Tingguians opposed the Christianization introduced by the Spanish friars who penetrated the eastern settlements. The Tingguian residents prevented the Spaniards from penetrating their area of which they placed roadblocks on all roads leading to the place. They also cut large logs and threw them to the Abra River to prevent the incoming colonizers from entering the area with the use of their boats and bamboo rafts. These logs were made as obstacles and big rocks were placed along the roads which the natives called "bangen", meaning obstacles.
When the conquistadores, led by Juan de Salcedo, decided to penetrate the area, they proceeded eastward and saw for themselves the big logs along the Abra River and the big stones which were placed, blocking all roads leading to the community. The Salcedo's subaltern happened to meet one of the natives and asked what was the name of the place and thinking that they were inquiring about the big stones that were placed on the roads, he answered "bangen" and the subaltern jotted down on his notebook about the word.
The Spaniards were successful in their attempt to penetrate the inner communities in the east by removing the obstacles saying in Spanish "Abra ese obstucus" and it was in that happening when they developed the area and established the towns and barangays. The place where they found many obstacles, they named it "Bangen" and the province they called it "Abra".
When the Americans colonized the country and established the civil government, the town's name was modified to "Bangued".
Bangued is a landlocked municipality. It is elongated in shape towards north and south, and bisected through the center by the large Abra River. It is situated in the western portion of the province with boundaries defined by the Province of Ilocos Norte and the Municipality of Danglas in the north; La Paz, Tayum and Peñarrubia in the east; San Isidro in the south, and Langiden and Pidigan in the west.
Bangued has a total land area of about 112.4 km² accounting for 2.83% of the total area of the province. It is generally mountainous from north to south; however, it is flat and rolling at the mid-section. From here it has an elevation of 30 meters above mean sea level. In the north, which consists mostly of mountains, elevation ranges from 60 to 1,036 meters. In the south, which is interspersed with mountain and hills, elevation ranges from 45 to 300 meters.
Bangued is accessible through the Abra-Ilocos Sur National Road from the west, Abra-Kalinga Road from the northeast, and Abra-Ilocos Norte Road from the North. It is 408 km from Manila, 197 km from Baguio City and 60 km from Vigan City.
The climate falls under the first type of tropical climate, which is characterized by two pronounced seasons, dry from November to April and wet during the remaining months of the year. Prevailing wind blowing in the area is mostly in the direction from northwest to southeast. However, during summer in the absence of weather disturbance, wind blows from north to south or east to west.
The commercial activity of Bangued is confined in the urban core establishing a linear pattern of development along major thoroughfares. This is evident from Torrijos Street to Taft Street of Zone 5, McKinley Street to Santiago Street and Partelo Street of Zone 4, and Capitulacion Street of Zone 1 and Zone 2.
For the year 2000 there were 1,539 commercial/business enterprises classified as wholesale and retail trade, dry and wet markets, banking and finance, service and others. There were 9 large suppliers of lumber, hardware and other construction supplies and materials. Likewise there were also about 3 large contractors with undetermined number of small to medium scale. On the other hand, there were also a number of large to medium scale suppliers of general merchandise, groceries and various types of prime commodities.
As the economic center of Abra, small scale or cottage industries abound. The most common are hollow blocks and other concrete products manufacturing with gravel and sand readily available at the Abra River bank. Wood and bamboo craft is also a promising business enterprises with raw materials available in the vicinity and in the hinterlands for narra and other species of hardwood, rattan and bamboos. Metalcraft, tinsmithing, jewelry making is also expanding while a lot of households are now in the small scale processing or value adding activities appertaining to various food items.
Buses going to Manila have their own permanent station/terminal, while all the rest are accommodated and parked along various open lots, gasoline stations, etc.