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Mait was how the local people called their island. Chinese merchants coming back to Fujian in the 13th century spoke of this land of Ma'i, which came into the annals of a Chinese functionary Chao Jukua. Thus is recorded the ancient trade between the Chinese and the people of Mindoro or Mait. Occidental Mindoro is the western half of the fabled island. The Verde Passage separates it from the Batangas coast. Its eastern coast faces the Mindoro Strait, which separates the island from Busuanga in Palawan. Several islands lie off the coast of the main island. The largest of these islands are Lubang, Ambil and Golo, in the north, and Ilin in the south. The plains hug the irregular coastline while valleys, and plateaus alternate with high mountains towards the interior. The climate is dry from December until May and wet the rest of the year.
Thriving settlements with active trading relations with the Chinese existed along the Mindoro coast at the time of Spanish conquest. Ilin, Mamburao and Lubang were important settlements established by both local inhabitants as well as settlers from the south. In 1570, the Spanish explorer Martin de Goiti traveled up the western Mindoro coast to attack Muslim settlements in Mamburao and Lubang. These settlements were allegedly harassing the settlements under Spanish rule in northern Panay Island.
The island of Mindoro, together with Lubang, was put under the jurisdiction of the province of Balayan, or Bombon in 1581. In the early 17th century, Mindoro was constituted as a separate corregimiento. Moro raiders ravaged the island and depopulated most of the western coast. Mamburao and Balete (near present-day Sablayan) became important points from where raids on surrounding Visayan and Luzon settlements were launched. The Spaniards destroyed the Moro settlement at Mamburao in 1770 but raiding continued until the middle of the 19th century.
Mindoro was annexed to the province of Marinduque in June 1902, but was made a special province in November of the same year. Mindoro became a regular province through Act No. 2964 on February 20, 1921. On June 13, 1950, the island was divided into two provinces through the passage of Republic Act No. 505.