Iloilo City is located in the southern shores of Panay Island. The city faces Iloilo Strait and Guimaras Island across it, making it a natural harbor and a safe anchorage for ships. The city lies on a flat alluvial plain, reclaimed mostly from the swampy areas due to urbanization and industrialization in the late 19th century until the present. Traversing the city are the rivers of Iloilo, Batiano, Jaro and Dungon Creek. Iloilo River is an estuary that separates the districts of City Proper, Molo and Villa Arevalo from the rest of the city. On the other hand, Jaro River is fed by its tributary rivers, Aganan and Tigum. Lately a new escape channel for floodwaters coming from these two rivers to Iloilo Straight was developed, the Jaro Floodway. Iloilo City is 337.6 nautical miles (630 km) from Manila, 116 kilometres (72 mi) from Roxas City, 158 kilometres (98 mi) from Kalibo, and 97 kilometres (60 mi) from San Jose de Buenavista. The city has a total land area of 70.3 square kilometres (27.1 sq mi).
The city is divided into seven geographical districts. All of the districts were once individual towns, excluding Lapuz, which was a sub-district of La Paz until 2008. They were merged into one city on August 25, 1937, when the current Iloilo City inaugurated as a charter city. All districts have their own town centers complete with a plaza, a Roman Catholic church, a fire station, a police station and a public market. City Proper is a commercial area and the political center of the city and the Province of Iloilo and the Regional Government Center of Western Visayas.