Negros is split into two provinces, each of which consists of part of Negros, plus a few neighbouring islets:
- Negros Occidental - the northwestern part of the island, with Bacolod as the provincial capital.
- Negros Oriental - the southeastern part of the island, with Dumaguete as the provincial capital.
In the Philippine government's administrative divisions of the nation, the Negros provinces were designated in two different regions, with Negros Occidental in Western Visayas (Region VI) and Negros Oriental in Central Visayas (Region VII). In mid-2015, the two Negros provinces were designated under one region as the Negros Island Region (abbreviated as NIR, unofficially Region XVIII). But by late 2017, the two provinces were reassigned back to their former regions. Here in Wikivoyage, we treat Negros as a separate region since everything is on one island with good transport links all over it.
In terms of languages, the two provinces are still strongly connected to their former regions. Negros Occidental speaks Hiligaynon/Ilonggo like Western Visayas, while Negros Oriental speaks Cebuano like Central Visayas. However, the natives of this island are known as "Negrenses" and are perceived as neither Ilonggo nor Cebuano.
Negros is the fourth-largest island in the Philippines and the second-largest in the Visayas at 13,309.60 km2 (5,138.87 sq mi). Both Luzon (main island of the north) and Mindanao (main island of the south) are much larger in both area and population. In terms of area, Negros is about the same size as Samar (the 3rd-largest) or Palawan (the 5th-largest), but it has a larger population than either, with 4,414,131 inhabitants as of the 2015 regional census, versus 1.9 million for Samar and 1.1 million for Palawan.
Among the cities, Bacolod is the most-populous with 562,000 in the city itself and 790,000 in the metropolitan area. Dumaguete is second at 131,377 plus suburbs. Both serve as capitals of their respective provinces. Bacolod is also the de facto regional capital for Negros Island Region.
Negros has been an important center of sugar production and one of the country's more prosperous regions for centuries, hence its nickname the "Sugarbowl of the Philippines". Under colonial American administration, it was the only region where local government was fully run by the native Negrenses, rather than by colonial authorities. That government was dominated by a few wealthy families — mostly owners of sugarcane plantations, many with ancestral ties to Spain. Those families are still influential today.
Negros is also actively pursuing the goal of becoming the "Organic Food Bowl of Asia", thanks to its lush, fertile volcanic soil suitable for organic farming.
The vivid yellow Ceres autobuses go to most cities and towns on the island, and in some areas there are jeepneys between cities and towns as well.
Transport options within the cities and towns vary; jeepneys and taxis are common in Bacolod and Dumaguete, but in their inner districts, as well as many of the smaller places throughout Negros, it is all three-wheelers. See the city articles for details.
Cebu lies to the east and its central urban area, Metro Cebu, is easily reached by ferry or or plane, or on a bus which will be carried by a Ro-Ro (roll-on roll-off) ferry part of the way. There are frequent bus departures from either Dumaguete or Bacolod, and some from some smaller cities and towns as well. A bit further east is the popular tourist destination of Bohol, reachable by ferry from Dumaguete.
Panay is to the west, best reached by ferry from Bacolod to Iloilo. The highly developed tourist island of Boracay is just off the north coast of Panay, reachable via Kalibo. From there, one might continue north to Romblon.
Small island provinces nearby are Guimaras, which is close to Iloilo City in Panay and is separated from Negros by a wide strait, and Siquijor, off the southeastern tip of Negros. Both can be reached with short ferry rides, Guimaras from Bacolod and Siquijor from Dumaguete.