Mindanao-Mindanao is named after the Maguindanaons who constituted the largest Sultanate historically, and evidence from maps made during the 17th and 18th centuries suggests that the name was used to refer to the island by natives at the time. Evidence of human occupation dates back tens of thousands of years. In prehistoric times the Negrito people arrived. Sometime around 1500 BC Austronesian peoples spread throughout the Philippines and far beyond.
Islam first spread to the region during the 13th century through Arab traders from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. Prior to this contact, the inhabitants of the area were primarily animists living in small autonomous communities. The indigenous population was quickly converted and the first mosque in the Philippines was built in the mid-14th century in the town of Simunul. The Philippine sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao were subsequently in the 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. In the late 16th to early 17th centuries, the first contact with Spain occurred. By this time, Islam was well established in Mindanao and had started influencing groups as far north as present-day Manila on the island of Luzon
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