About the Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. They have been conquered by one civilization after another over the Millennia. Each conqueror has left its mark on the islands this provides for some extraordinary sites of historical interest. It also means that the islands are architecturally very diverse.
The Balearic Islands lie just off the Valencian coast of mainland Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. The Balearics are formed of fifty islands in total, the majority of which are uninhabited. The centres of population are concentrated across the four main islands of Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca (Majorca) and Menorca (Minorca). There are also 11 smaller islands in the archipelago which form the Spanish National Park - Parc Nacional de l’Arxipelag de Cabrera.
Each of the four main islands has very distinctive styles that set them apart from each other:
Formentera - The smallest and quietest of the islands at 83.24 km2. It has several major villages (Sant Francesc Xavier, Sant Ferran de ses Roques, El Pilar de la Mola and La Savina) with a combined population of approx. 7,461. Access to the island is via ferry from the mainland or from Ibiza. Although busy in the tourist season, the island is very relaxed and exudes a back to nature/basics atmosphere.
Ibiza - Synonymous in the past with being a cheap party island, Ibiza is in fact now an upmarket destination. It is still famous for its clubbing scene but this has become a much more sophisticated scene in recent years. The population has grown to approx. 113,908 of which approx. 15% are foreign nationals. Ibiza’s main cities are Ibiza Town, Santa Eulària des Riu and Sant Antoni de Portmany. Large portions of the island are banned from development as the island has UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Mallorca - The largest of the islands. It is also the summer residence of the Spanish Royal family. Palma is the capital city of Mallorca and of the Balearic Islands. Palma is a sophisticated Spanish city with all of the amenities that you would expect. The population of the island is approx. 846,000. Mallorca’s villages, towns and cities reflect their diverse heritage with Roman, Byzantine, Moorish and Spanish styles all in evidence.
Menorca - This relatively small island is famed for its historical landmarks and its wildlife. The capital is Mahon with a population of approx. 27,468. The other main towns and villages are Fornells, Ciutadella, Alaior and Es Mercadal. The total population of the island is approx. 88,000. The island is very relaxed and provides for a very calm pace of life. The island is much less developed than Ibiza and Mallorca.
The Balearic Islands economy is almost entirely tourist driven. They obtain 80% of their income from the tourist industry. Other industries that survive, if somewhat diminished are; agriculture, fishing and shoe making.
The islands are also famed for their artistic communities of musicians, writers, painters, poets, philosophers and artisans.
The Balearics are a very sheltered archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea and as such, they benefit from a temperate climate. Like the mainland, they have long, hot dry summers with cooler winters. The average rainfall is approx. 439mm per year with an average of 46 rainy days. The mountainous interiors of the islands see some snow in winter months.
By Car - The Balearics are easily accessible by car you need to drive to Valencia or Barcelona and then take the ferry.
By Rail - Take a high-speed rail network connection to Valencia or Barcelona and then take the ferry.
By Bus - Take Euroline and Alsa from many destinations right across Europe and the rest of Spain to Valencia or Barcelona and then take the ferry.
By Ferry - From Barcelona or Valencia.
By Air - The Balearics are served by flights from the major carriers from the main European hubs London, Paris, Rome and Hamburg. You can fly directly to airports on Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. To get to Formentera you need to either fly to Denia on the mainland or Ibiza and then journey on by ferry.
|Population: approx. 1,071,221||Capital: Palma|
|Spanish Residents: 79.2%||Area: 4,992 km2|
|Climate: Temperate/Mediterranean||Languages: Spanish; Catalan|