Balearic Islands Spain
The Belearic Islands (las Islas Baleares) are a cluster of islands located in the Mediterranean Sea (el Mar Mediterráneo), east of Valencia and southeast of Catalonia. The largest of the islands are Formentera, Ibiza , Mallorca and Menorca. A further island of note is Cabrera. The capital city of the Balearic Islands is located on Mallorca: Palma (Palma de Mallorca).
In terms of area, the Balearic Islands amount to some 4,900km², making them approximately 1% of Spain’s total surface area. Spain’s Balearic Islands have a residential population of around 0.9 million, although the number of people on the islands swells greatly in the summer months due to a healthy tourist industry.
The landscape of the islands in the Balearic archipelago is characterised by smooth coastlines with bays, coves and capes. Having said this, the larger islands tend to have more cliff formations and mountainous areas: Mallorca has Puig Major (1,445m) and Puig de Massanella (1,340m).
The climate of the Balearic Islands is Mediterranean. Summers are very warm and winters mild. The region experiences an average rainfall of around 500-600mm per year. Snow falls on the higher peaks, as in Mallorca, but snowfall is generally light. It is a very temperate region having around 300 days of sun each year.
Balearic Island Tourism
The principal industry of the Balearic Islands, like the Canary Islands, is tourism. Consequently, Balearic Island tourism is the largest revenue stream of the region. The good year long weather, and fantastic choice of quality beaches have made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe since Spain opened its doors to mass tourism (el turismo de masas) in the 1960s.
Mallorca is the largest of the islands and certainly the most commercial and developed. Ibiza has become a mecca for partygoers in recent years, but also has some lovely quiet beaches. Menorca is the not as developed as Mallorca and Menorca, and as such is more attractive to those seeking a quieter holiday. Formentera is the smallest of the islands and is also the least developed due to restrictions put in place to protect the island from overdevelopment.
Cabrera is a small island off the southern coast of Mallorca. It is the largest of 19 small islands and islets which form the Cabrera Archipelago and is protected as a National Park (el Parque Nacional del Archipiélago de Cabrera). The National Park is home to Balearic Lizards, Ospreys, Eleanor’s and Peregrine Falcons and Storm Petrels. Cabrera’s waters are also an important breeding ground for turtles, dolphins and sperm whales.
The co-official languages of the Balearic Islands, as with Catalonia and Valencia are Castilian Spanish and Català.