The predominant languages are Ilocano and Itneg. Based on the 1995 census survey, Ilocano is generally spoken by 73.65% of the region's total population. 25.18% speak Itneg, 0.16% speak Tagalog, and the remaining 0.54% speak other dialects.
As of 1990, there were 743 cottage industries in Abra, of which 208 are registered with the Department of Trade and Industry. 59% are engaged in bamboo and rattan craft making, both leading industries in the area.
In 1992, the natural dye industry, together with loom weaving and embroidery, was revived by former Governor Ma. Zita Claustro-Valera, the first woman governor of Abra.
Abra's economy is agriculture-based. Its major crops are rice, corn, and root crops; and commercial produce are coffee, tobacco, and coconut. Extensive grassland and pasture areas are used for livestock production.
Abra is subdivided into 27 municipalities.
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In 1598 a Spanish garrison was established in Bangued to protect the Ilocanos who converted to Christianity from Tingguian raids. During the British invasion of the Philippines, Gabriela Silang and her army fled to Abra from Ilocos and continued the revolt begun by her slain husband, Diego Silang. She was captured and hung by the Spanish in 1763.
In 1818 the Ilocos region, including Abra, was divided into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. In 1846 Abra was created as a political-military province with Lepanto as a sub-province. It remained so until the arrival of the Americans in 1899.
In 1908 the Philippine Commission once again in annexed Abra to Ilocos Sur in an attempt to resolve Abra's financial difficulties. But on March 9, 1917, the Philippine Assembly reestablished Abra as a province.
In 1942, the Japanese forces was occupied to entered in Abra
In 1945, the liberation in Abra in Northern Luzon from defenders by the Allied Philippine Commonwealth forces and the local Cordilleran guerillas against the Japanese during the Battle of Abra at the end the Second World War.
The revolutionary priest, Father Conrado Balweg, who fought for the rights of the Cordillera tribes, began his crusade in Abra. After successfully negotiating a peace accord with Balweg's group in 1987, the Philippine government created the Cordillera Administrative Region, which includes Abra.