Lamitan was derived from the phrase Lami-Lamihan which means a blend of Merry Making and Conference. The town was named by the first Spaniards from Isabela who explored this area. When the Spaniards arrived the MOROS were celebrating the native festival. The explorers inquired the name of the place, the MOROS thought they were inquiring about what the merry making about and explained it was the festival of Lami-Lamihan, the Spaniards misunderstood their answer, thereafter called the place Lamitan.
The municipality of Lamitan was founded in 1886 by the legendary figure Pedro Javier Cuevas popularly known as Datu Kalun. He was born in the town of Bacoor Cavite on June 9, 18 46 . During his reign he subjugated local Yakan Chieftains and consolidated their forces through his bravery and leadership.
During the Spanish regime the advance of civilization was cultivated chiefly in the area of Isabela. A few adventurous colonists from Zamboanga had also settled at Lamitan, but the Lamitan area was mostly wild and uncivilized isolated from the military protection of Isabela by impenetrable jungles. The Christian settlers at Lamitan lived in constant dread of Moro Bandits.
However, during the last few years of the Spanish Regime, Government Order under tribal customs of the native Yakans was independently taking shape at Lamitan. The person most responsible for this was Pedro Javier Cuevas.
The Philippine Revolution against Spain seems to have made no impact in Basilan. However, when the United States conquered Spain in the Philippines , many Spaniards, including Spanish clergy evacuated the Philippines and on January 15, 18 99 it already became necessary to call a plebiscite at Isabela to form some kind of Government in Basilan. This plebiscite appointed Don Ramon Larachochea as Governor and Pedro Javier Cuevas was made Mayor of Isabela.
On May 16, 18 99 all the Spaniards in the Basilan evacuated and left the island in charge of Pedro Javier Cuevas, who was later elected JEFE Provisional by the town council.
This Provisional Government headed by Pedro Javier Cuevas ruled and protected Basilan until the military representatives of the United States Government took formal possession of the island on December 08, 18 99 .
In the year 1935 the entire Island of Basilan was a District of the Province of Zamboanga . On July 01, 19 48 , Basilan became a chartered city through Republic Act No. 288. In December 27, 1973 Presidential Decree was passed converting Basilan into a Province. Subsequently, Presidential Decree 840 divided Basilan into Seven Municipalities namely, Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso, Tuburan, Tipo-Tipo, Lantawan and Sumisip.