Negros was commonly known as “Buglas” to the inhabitants of the island before but when the Spaniards occupied control the island in April 1565 they called it “Negros” because of the black- skin of native people that they saw living in the island. The two of the earliest settlements were Binalbagan and Ilog which later became town in 1573 and 1584, respectively. Other local settlements were Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, Bago, Marayo (now Pontevedra), Mamalan (now Himamaylan) and Candaguit (a sitio in San Enrique). In 1743 the town of Ilog was the capital of the province but later transferred to Himamaylan and then Bacolod in 1849.But with the so much abuse and oppression by the Spanish conquerors, Juan Araneta and Aniceto Lacson led a rebellion in November 5, 1898 which ended the tyranny of Spaniards to the people of Negros that give them a freedom. After with glorious victory they formed the Republic of Negros which later included the Negros Oriental.
During the succeeding decades between 1901 to 1930’s, Negros Occidental was under the American occupation as with the rest of the country, but during this time the economic growth of Negros Occidental moves forward because of the sugar production. When the Japanese soldiers came in 1942 to once again occupied the island under their power, civilian and military leaders in Negros this time refused to surrender against the foreign invaders but instead they formed and organized a free government and guerilla movement under the leadership of Gov. Alfredo S. Montelibano and succeeded to surrender the Japanese forces in 1945.
After World War II the people of Negros started to have a peaceful life and began to settle their lives. With sugar industry as the major pillar of the province’s economy it helps a lot to improve the life of its people. But in the middle of its improvement, Negros suffered a major setback when the costs of sugar in market begin to go down in the midst of 1970’s and also some strong typhoons and drought hit Negros in 1980’s.
Negros del Norte was created from Negros Occidental on January 3, 1986. Its creation was declared unconstitutional on July 11, 1986, and was abolished on August 18, 1986. Towards the end of 1987, the rays of hope started to shine when the over-all economic situation showed a positive upturn. The campaign for agricultural diversification had been gaining momentum, paving the way for more landowners to invest in prawn farming and high-value crops such as fruits, vegetables, livestock and other cash crops. Investments upswing became apparent by 1988. The participation of the industrial sector accelerated the consumer-led economic growth and development manifested by the increase in sales of consumer goods and by-products.
Today Negros Occidental remains one of the most progressive and largely developed Philippine provinces, due to the profits from the sugar industry but also due to diversification to other fields.