Balearic Islands (Spanish: Islas Baleares, Catalan: Illes Balears) is a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea to the east of mainland Spain. The total land area of the Balearic Islands is 4,992 sq km (1,927.4 sq mi). The islands have a population of 1.1 million people. The capital and biggest city is Palma de Mallorca, or simply Palma. The islands observe the Central European Time (UTC+1) and in summer the Central European Summer Time (UTC+2).
Cala Banyalbufar in Mallorca
The four largest islands among the Balearic Islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. They are in two groups. The bigger group comprising Majorca and Minorca is called the Gymnesian Islands while the other group, comprising Ibiza and Formentera, is called Pine Islands. The Balearic also include a number of smaller islands such as Cabrera, Es Conills, Es Verdrà, San Conillera, Sa Dragonera, S’Espalmador, S’Espardell, and more.
The history of the Balearic Islands goes back thousands of years, although the early history has been mixed with myths and legends. During ancient times, the natives were noted for their skill in using the sling, and were recruited into the armies of the Carthaginians and later the Romans.
Ibiza Bay, Ibiza
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Balearic Islands were conquered by the Vandals, then the Byzantine Empire and the Moors. King James I of Aragón conquered the islands in 1239. Upon his death, his younger son was made King James II of Mallorca, which is a vassal under his eldest son, King Peter III of Aragón. The kingdom of Mallorca lasted until 1349, when it was reincorporated into the Kingdom of Aragón.
The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 made the Balearic Islands a British dependency. In 1756 the islands came under French rule while the British was busy fighting the American War of Independence. They passed to Spanish control under the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and has remained Spanish territory ever since.
Visiting the Balearic Islands
Fly to Palma de Mallorca, served by many low-cost carriers connecting it with major cities of Europe. There are also flights to Minorca and Ibiza. There are also ferry services to Palma de Mallorca from Barcelona and Valencia and a service connecting Alcudia with Menorca.
Main Cities in Balearic Islands
- Palma de Mallorca – capital
Map of the Towns and Cities of the Balearic Islands
Selected Minor Islands
- Sa Dragonera