The town of Guinobatan, populated by some 82,361, is one of the largest in the Bicol Region. Geographically, it is located in the center of the peninsula and on Legazpi-Naga road (also in rail).
The town Guinobatan is like a cornucopia bounded on the southeast by the Municipality of Camalig; on the south by the Municipality of Jovellar; on the southwest by the Municipality of Pioduran (Malacbalac); and on the northwest by the City of Ligao. On the northeast, the town shares with Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, Daraga and Tabaco City and with the City of Legazpi, a common point in the crater of Mayon Volcano.
It was believed that the aborigines of the Municipality of Guinobatan came from the costal parts bordering the Albay gulf. Frequently bothered by the Muslims of Mindanao and Borneo, these people were forced to move into the interior part. Some of these people settled in the area which later became the Municipality of Guinobatan.
           There is no document found to support how Guinobatan got its name. Analyzing the word, its root word “Gubat” has a substantive form in Bicol idiom meaning barren and uncultivated. When used as a verb, it connotes grave physical encounter. These physical encounters emanated from the moros who frequently plundered the town of Guinobatan. When the native could no longer withstand those attacks, they organized resistance against these moros. Hence, the name “Guinobatan” was given due to the armed clashes between the native and the moros that often occurred plus the actual physical condition of the settlement.
Just like many Bicol towns, Guinobatan was but a nameless tract of wilderness inhabited by only few families. According to Rev. Felix Huerta this town was recorded about 1672 as a barrio of Camalig until 1688 when it sought separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Rev. Fr. Alfonso de Zafra was the first appointed minister. In civil matters, the tenientes absolutes, which had the same powers a Gobernadorcillo, had jurisdiction, formerly possessed by the Cabeza de Barangay. 
             Complete separation from Camalig was effected in 1688 and the governing power rested in the hands on Gobernadorcillos who were elected by the Cabezas de Barangay every year until 1863. Like the towns of Camalig, Quipa ( now Jovellar) and Donsol belonged to province of Camarines Sur until 1847. Guinobatan, meaning its Poblacion, was transferred and retransferred from 1730 to 1818. In the year 1730 it was located at the place now called Binanuaan. It was then relocated at the Bubulusan, retransferred to the present location and during the eruption in 1814, moved to Mauraro. All these location are relocations brought by fear of Mayon and other natural calamities. Another time it transferred again and set up in the coastal town of Pio Duran, (the sitio of Malacbalac in the barrio of Guinobatan called Malidong). Frequent floods made the populace return to the present location where the Poblacion now stands. When they arrived, their family names were still not Spanish and in 1849 the catalogue for surnames in Guinobatan arrived and most of the people chose the name beginning with the letter O, in the same manner that those in Camalig selected M and N, Oas, R and Baao, B and so on.

          In 1890, the administration of Guinobatan saw a reform. The Gobernadorcillo gave way to the Capitan Municipal. When formerly, the term of the office of the executives was two years from 1863 to January 1, 1890, it was extended to four years. Maura’s Municipal Law became effective in 1894, providing for 12 vocales or delegados in every town. The name of the town executive was changes to president in 1898. It was also during the year 1898 joined the fight against Spanish and later against American. In 1899 the provincial government of Albay was transferred to Guinobatan and was housed in the San Buenavetura College and Seminary. The Revolutionary Government under General Emilio Aguinaldo established on August 14, 1898 with General Francisco Lucban as appointed municipal president was driven out by the American forces on February 23, 1900. The Americans then appointed Eugenio Pardeñas as municipal president under the military government. Yet General Lucban continues to be the recognized executive by the people until his surrender in June, 1901. Civil government was ushered in the appointment of Cirilio Jaucian Sr. as the president. Still pierce opposition to the Americans continued until the surrender of the last Filipino General to surrender to the Americans on September 25, 1903, General Simeon Ola. Meanwhile another famous figure in the history of Guinobatan completed the renovation of the parochial church and made it one of the most beautiful in Bicolandia. He was the late Mons. Julian Ope, pastor of Guinobatan from 1902 to 1922.
The right to suffrage was first exercised in March, 1903 with the election of Eligio Arboleda as Presidente municipal. The term of office was two years until 1910 when Simeon A. Ola was elected president that this was extended to three years. The name of the town executive was change to Alcalde Municipal on January 1, 1938 and the first elected was Julian O. Ofrasio.
In 1942 when Japanese entered Guinobatan, the incumbent Mayor Carlos Pardo was disregarded by the enemy forces who appointed Messrs. Sergio Palencia, Brigido Sison and Dionisio Roa, mayors respectively. The latter stayed until the liberation. When peace and order restored, Dr. Tirzo O. delos Reyes was appointed mayor until the election of 1947 when he came out mayor and lasted until 1957 when he resigned to run for Congressman in the 3rd district of Albay against fellow Guinobateño Pio Duran. It was also during the incumbency of Delos Reyes that the present four year term for mayor was introduced in Guinobatan. Jose Garcia succeeded him and the followed by Jose Oira. Jose Garcia returned to power when in the 1967 election, the electorate voted for him. Other municipal mayor who had served later were: Juan G. Rivera, Juan M. Garcia II ( Three terms) Christopher DyLlaco Flores (One term). Juan M.Garcia II (three terms) and presently Ann “Gemma” Yap Ongjoco won the 2013 elections and is the incumbent Mayor of Guinobatan.