The Balearic Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Spain. They are under the control of the Spanish government, but have a unique culture all their own. There are five islands, Majorca, Menorca and Cabera in the North, known as the Gimnesias, and Ibiza and Formentera in the Southwest, known as the Pitiusas. There are around 800,000 permanent inhabitants among all the islands, with many more tourists adding to those numbers, especially during the summer. The islands are known for their fabulous weather and beautiful beaches, with over 300 days of sunshine each year. They are huge travel destinations for young Europeans, especially Ibiza, which is considered the equivalent of Cancun for Americans. Ibiza is known for its huge party/rave scene, with Europe’s largest nightclub and wild parties that go on late into the night all through the summer.
The culture of the Balearic Islands comes from their rich and varied history. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Byzantines, and the Moors all inhabited them at one time or another. Currently, the culture is very much Spanish. Both Catalan and Castilian Spanish are spoken, and the unique foods of the islands are considered Spanish classics. Balearic foods include sausages, fish dishes, and clear soups with meat and other ingredients.
Among the islands, Majorca (sometimes written Mallorca, pronounced “Mayorca”) is the largest, with the major cities and ports of the islands. Menorca (also written Minorca) is smaller but also developed. Ibiza is known for its nude beaches and parties, but also has quiet beaches and places to relax. The other islands are smaller and less developed. All of the Balearic Islands are certainly worth a visit, especially if you speak Spanish.