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The history of Davao dates back thousands of years to the times when various ethnic groups such as the Manobos, Bagbos, and the Mandayas occupied the land and established formal communities throughout the area today known as Mindanao . For centuries these people lived in relative peace.The Spanish were the first Europeans to discover Davao , when in 1528 they arrived at the coast and encountered groups of the native people. But it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century when the Spanish began populating the area and gaining control of Davao ’s ports, when permanent European settlements began being built. Control of the ports meant valuable trade leverage in the vastly expanding world trade market. Although they tried, the Spanish were unable to gain complete control of the Mindanao Island , as the native people fought back and resisted. The Spanish-American War in 1898 resulted in an American occupation over the next few years. During the early 20 th century, Davao grew in size because of the development of the ports, and the global demand for various products from the area such as cotton, rubber and coffee. Davao officially became a city in 1937. Since this time, the city has been damaged and afflicted by many wars, and been occupied by various countries.
For further information, check out this more-detailed history of Davao .