It is geographically situated in the province of Davao del Sur and grouped under the province by the Philippine Statistics Authority but the city is governed and administered politically independent from it. The city is divided into three congressional districts, which are subdivided into 11 administrative districts with a total of 182 barangays.
Davao attained a high "safety index" according to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced survey website, which the Philippine national media has reported frequently, although the city has the highest murder rate and the second highest rape rate in the country according to national police statistics as of 2015.Rodrigo Duterte, mayor for 22 years, claimed credit for Numbeo's safety ranking, boasting that he killed the criminals. A vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad killed over 1,400 street children and alleged criminals while he was mayor, according to human rights groups.
The region's name is derived from its Bagobo origins. The Bagobos were indigenous to the Philippines. The word davao came from the phonetic blending of three Bagobo subgroups' names for the Davao River, a major waterway emptying into the Davao Gulf near the city. The aboriginal Obos, who inhabit the hinterlands of the region, called the river Davah (with a gentle vowel ending, although later pronunciation is with a hard v or b); the Clatta (or Giangan/Diangan) called it Dawaw, and the Tagabawas called it Dabo. To the Obos, davah also means "a place beyond the high grounds" (alluding to settlements at the mouth of the river surrounded by high, rolling hills).