Bobongko is spoken in two villages in the Togian Archipelago. The main community resides in Lembanato village, on the shores of Kilat Bay on the northern side of Togian Island. In the 1960s a splinter group left Lembanato and settled in Tumbulawa village on Batu Daka Island, immediately to the west of Togian Island. For locations of these villages, see the map in Mead (2001:62).
Twice in history Bobongko has been misequated with other languages. In the second half of the nineteenth century Bobongko was confused with Togian, but after visiting the archipelago Adriani published data showing that Togian was a dialect of Pamona, while Bobongko was closely related to Saluan (Adriani 1900:429 ff.).
For a brief period Bobongko was also mistakenly identified with the newly reported Andio language of mainland eastern Sulawesi (see e.g. Sneddon 1983). This error was corrected by Noorduyn (1991:103).
Although Bobongko is clearly a member of the Saluan-Banggai subgroup, its word stock evinces a definite influence from Gorontalo during a previous era (Adriani 1900:432 ff.; Mead 2003).
During a visit to the Togian Islands in 2001, Mead estimated 1,500 Bobongko speakers (1,100 in Lembanato village, 400 in Tumbulawa village) (Mead 2001:61).
Adriani, N. 1900. De talen der Togian-Eilanden. Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 42:428–490, 539–566.
Mead, David. 2001. A preliminary sketch of the Bobongko language. Studies in Sulawesi Linguistics, part 7 (NUSA Linguistic Studies of Indonesian and Other Languages in Indonesia, 49), edited by Wyn D. Laidig, 61–94. Jakarta: Badan Penyelenggara Seri NUSA, Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya. [Reproduced online. URL: http://sealang.net/archives/nusa/pdf/nusa-v49-p61-94.pdf (accessed May 25, 2013).]
Mead, David. 2003. The Saluan-Banggai microgroup of eastern Sulawesi. Issues in Austronesian historical phonology (Pacific Linguistics, 550), edited by John Lynch, 65–86. Canberra: Australian National University.
Noorduyn, J. 1991. A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi. (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Bibliographic Series 18.) Leiden: KITLV Press.
Sneddon, J. N. (compiler.) 1983. Northern Celebes (Sulawesi). Language atlas of the Pacific area, part 2: Japan area, Taiwan (Formosa), Philippines, mainland and insular South-east Asia (Pacific Linguistics, C‑67), edited by Stephen A. Wurm and Shirô Hattori, map 43. Canberra: Australian National University, Australian Academy of the Humanities and The Japan Academy.