For other uses, see Majorca (disambiguation).
Native name: <span class="nickname" ">Mallorca

Flag of Majorca

Location in the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands

Location Mediterranean
Coordinates Coordinates: 39°37′N 2°59′E / 39.617°N 2.983°E / 39.617; 2.983
Archipelago Balearic Islands
Total islands 5
Major islands Balearic Islands
Area 3,640.11 km2 (1,405.45 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,445 m (4,741 ft)
Highest point Puig Major
Province Balearic Islands
Largest settlement Palma (pop. 404,681)
Population 859,289[1] (2015)
Pop. density 240.45 /km2 (622.76 /sq mi)

Majorca or Mallorca (/məˈjɔːrkə/ or /-ˈɔːr-/;[2] Catalan: Mallorca [məˈʎɔrkə], Spanish: Mallorca [maˈʎorka])[3] is the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean.

The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Balearic Islands have been an autonomous region of Spain since 1983.[4] The Cabrera Archipelago is administratively grouped with Majorca (in the municipality of Palma). The anthem of Majorca is La Balanguera.

Like the other Balearic Islands of Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, the island is an extremely popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany and the United Kingdom. The international airport, Palma de Mallorca Airport, is one of the busiest in Spain; it was used by 23.1 million passengers in 2014.[5]

The name derives from Latin insula maior, "larger island"; later Maiorica, "the larger one" in comparison to Minorca, "the smaller one".


Prehistoric settlements

Little is recorded of the earliest inhabitants of the island. Burial chambers and traces of habitation from the Neolithic period (6000–4000 BC) have been discovered, particularly the prehistoric settlements called talaiots, or talayots. They raised Bronze Age megaliths as part of their Talaiotic Culture.[6] A non-exhaustive list is the following:

Example of prehistoric talaiot in Majorca
Ruins of the Roman city of Pollentia

Phoenicians, Romans and Late Antiquity

The first to colonize the island were the Phoenicians, a seafaring people from the Levant, who arrived around the 8th century BC and established numerous colonies. The island eventually came under the control of Carthage in North Africa, which had become the principal Phoenician city. After the Second Punic War, Carthage lost all of its overseas possessions and the Romans took over.

The island was occupied by the Romans in 123 BC under Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus. It flourished under Roman rule, during which time the towns of Pollentia (Alcúdia), and Palmaria (Palma) were founded. In addition, the northern town of Bocchoris, dating back to pre-Roman times, was a federated city to Rome.[7] The local economy was largely driven by olive cultivation, viticulture, and salt mining. Majorcan soldiers were valued within the Roman legions for their skill with the sling.[8]

In 427, Gunderic and the Vandals captured the island. Geiseric, son of Gunderic, governed Majorca and used it as his base to loot and plunder settlements around the Mediterranean,[9] until Roman rule was restored in 465.

Middle Age and Modern history

Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

In 534, Majorca was recaptured by the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, led by Apollinarius. Under Byzantine rule, Christianity thrived and numerous churches were built.

From 707, the island was increasingly attacked by Muslim raiders from North Africa. Recurrent invasions led the islanders to ask Charlemagne for help.[9]

Moorish Majorca

Arab Baths in Palma

In 902, Issam al-Khawlaní (Arabic: عصام الخولاني) conquered the Balearic Islands, ushering in a new period of prosperity under the Emirate of Córdoba. The town of Palma was reshaped and expanded, and became known as Medina Mayurqa. Later on, with the Caliphate of Córdoba at its height, the Moors improved agriculture with irrigation and developed local industries.

The Caliphate was dismembered in 1015. Majorca came under rule by the Taifa of Dénia, and from 1087 to 1114 was an independent Taifa. During that period the island was visited by Ibn Hazm (Arabic: أبو محمد علي بن احمد بن سعيد بن حزم). However, an expedition of Pisans and Catalans in 1114-15, led by Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona, overran the island, laying siege to Palma for eight months. After the city fell, the invaders retreated due to problems in their own lands. They were replaced by the Almoravides from North Africa, who ruled until 1176. The Almoravides were replaced by the Almohad dynasty until 1229. Abú Yahya was the last Moorish leader of Majorca.[10]

Medieval Majorca

Main article: Conquest of Majorca

In the ensuing confusion and unrest, King James I of Aragon, also known as James The Conqueror, launched an invasion which landed at Santa Ponça, Majorca, on September 8–9, 1229 with 15,000 men and 1,500 horses. His forces entered the city of Medina Mayurqa on December 31, 1229. In 1230 he annexed the island to his Crown of Aragon under the name Regnum Maioricae.

Modern era

1683 map of Mallorca, by Vicente Mut.

From 1479, the Crown of Aragon was in dynastic union with that of Castile. The Barbary corsairs of North Africa often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response the people built coastal watchtowers and fortified churches. In 1570, King Philip II of Spain and his advisors were considering complete evacuation of the Balearic islands.[11]

In the early 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession resulted in the replacement of that dynastic union with a unified Spanish monarchy under the rule of the new Bourbon Dynasty. The last episode of the War of Spanish Succession was the conquest of the island of Mallorca. It took place on July 2, 1715 when the island capitulated to the arrival of a Bourbon fleet.[12] In 1716 the Nueva Planta decrees made Majorca part of the Spanish province of Baleares, roughly the same to present-day Illes Balears province and autonomous community.

20th century and today

Population growth of Palma de Majorca (1900–2005)

A Nationalist stronghold at the start of the Spanish Civil War, Majorca was subjected to an amphibious landing, on August 16, 1936, aimed at driving the Nationalists from Majorca and reclaiming the island for the Republic. Although the Republicans heavily outnumbered their opponents and managed to push 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) inland, superior Nationalist air power, provided mainly by Fascist Italy as part of the Italian occupation of Majorca, forced the Republicans to retreat and to leave the island completely by September 12. Those events became known as the Battle of Majorca.[13]

Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a destination for foreign visitors and attracted many service workers from mainland Spain. The boom in tourism caused Palma to grow significantly.

In the 21st century, urban redevelopment, under the so‑called Pla Mirall (English "Mirror Plan"), attracted groups of immigrant workers from outside the European Union, especially from Africa and South America.[14]


Main article: Palma de Mallorca

The capital of Majorca, Palma, was founded as a Roman camp called Palmaria upon the remains of a Talaiotic settlement. The turbulent history of the city saw it subject to several Vandal sackings during the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It was later reconquered by the Byzantines, colonised by the Moors (who called it Medina Mayurqa), and finally established by James I of Aragon. In 1983, Palma became the capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands.


The climate of Majorca is a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), with mild and stormy winters and hot, bright, dry summers. There is markedly higher precipitation in the Serra de Tramuntana. Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild, getting colder in the Tramuntana range, where brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.

Climate data for Palma de Mallorca, Port (1981–2010) (Satellite view)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.9
Average low °C (°F) 8.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6 6 5 5 4 2 1 2 5 7 6 7 53
Mean monthly sunshine hours 167 170 205 237 284 315 346 316 227 205 161 151 2,779
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[15]



Satellite image

Majorca is the largest island of Spain by area and second most populated (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands).[16] Majorca has two mountainous regions, the Serra de Tramuntana and Serres de Llevant. Each are about 70 km (43 mi) in length and occupy the north-western and eastern parts of the island respectively.

The highest peak on Majorca is Puig Major at 1,445 m (4,741 ft) in the Serra de Tramuntana.[17] As this is a military zone, the neighbouring peak at Puig de Massanella is the highest accessible peak at 1,364 m (4,475 ft). The northeast coast comprises two bays: the Badia de Pollença and the larger Badia d'Alcúdia.

The northern coast is rugged and has many cliffs. The central zone, extending from Palma, is a generally flat, fertile plain known as Es Pla. The island has a variety of caves both above and below sea - two of the caves, the above sea level Coves dels Hams and the Coves del Drach, also contain underground lakes and are open to tours. Both are located near the eastern coastal town of Porto Cristo. There are two small islands off the coast of Majorca: Cabrera (southeast of Palma) and Dragonera (west of Palma). Other notable areas include the Alfabia Mountains, Es Cornadors and Cap de Formentor.

World Heritage Site

The Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.[18]


Municipalities of Majorca

The island is administratively divided into these municipalities:

Environmental problems

Drinking water has become a rare commodity on Majorca because of the increasing number of hotels and golf courses, that are irrigated daily. The groundwater level has sunken with effects on vegetation and climate as well as an intrusion of salt water. During the summer months drinking water has to be shipped in by tankers from continental Spain. Desalination plants are rare due to their expense and high consumption of electricity. Many sites lack sufficient sewage treatment and wastewater pollutes the Mediterranean Sea. Abnormal green algae populations are found, and are indicators of nutrient pollution. The dying bay of Santa Ponsa is an example of this pollution.[19]

Attempts to build illegally — for example, in nature reserves — has resulted in the ruins of unfinished buildings. This caused a scandal in 2006 in Port Andratx that El País named 'caso Andratx'.[20] A main reason for illegal building permits, corruption and black market construction is that communities have few ways to finance themselves other than through permits.[19] The former mayor was incarcerated since 2009 after being prosecuted for taking bribes to permit illegal housebuilding.[21][22]


Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria

A sculpture of Ludwig Salvator, in Majorca

The Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria (Catalan: Arxiduc Lluís Salvador) was the architect of tourism in the Balearic Islands. He first arrived on the Island in 1867, travelling under his title 'Count of Neuendorf'. He later settled on Majorca, buying up wild areas of land in order to preserve and enjoy them. Nowadays, a number of trekking routes are named after him.[23]

Ludwig Salvator loved the island of Majorca. He became fluent in Catalan, carried out research into the island's flora and fauna, history, and culture to produce his main work, Die Balearen, an extremely comprehensive collection of books about the Balearic Islands, consisting of 7 volumes. It took him 22 years to complete.[24]

Chopin in Majorca

Chopin's piano in Valldemossa, Majorca

Together with French writer George Sand, the Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin resided in Valldemossa in the winter of 1838-39. Apparently, Chopin's health had already deteriorated and his doctor recommended he go to the Balearic Islands to recuperate, where he still spent a rather miserable winter.[25][26]

Nonetheless, his time in Majorca was a productive period for Chopin. He managed to finish the Preludes, Op. 28, that he started writing in 1835. He was also able to undertake work on his Ballade No. 2, Op. 38; two Polonaises, Op. 40; and the Scherzo No. 3, Op. 39.[27]

Literature and painting

George Sand, at that time in a relationship with Chopin, described her stay in Majorca in A Winter in Majorca, published in 1855. Other famous writers used Majorca as the setting for their works: While on the island, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío started writing the novel El oro de Mallorca, and wrote several poems, such as La isla de oro.[28] Many of the works of Baltasar Porcel take place in Majorca.

Agatha Christie visited the island in the early 20th century and stayed in Palma and Port de Pollença.[29] She would later write the book Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, a collection of short stories, of which the first one takes place in Port de Pollença, starring Parker Pyne.

Jorge Luis Borges visited Majorca twice, accompanied by his family.[30] He published his poems La estrella (1920) and Catedral (1921) in the regional magazine Baleares.[31] The latter poem shows his admiration for the monumental Cathedral of Palma.[32]

Joan Miró had close ties to the island throughout his life, he married Pilar Juncosa in Palma in 1929 and settled permanently in Majorca in 1954.[33] The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Majorca has a collection of his works.


The Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival is the fastest growing Mediterranean film festival and has occurred annually every November since 2011, attracting filmmakers, producers, and directors globally. It is hosted at the Teatro Principal in Palma de Mallorca[34]

Map of Majorca and Minorca by the Ottoman admiral Piri Reis

Majorcan cartographic school

Majorca has a long history of seafaring. The Majorcan cartographic school or the "Catalan school" refers to a collection of cartographers, cosmographers, and navigational instrument makers that flourished in Majorca and partly in mainland Catalonia in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Majorcan cosmographers and cartographers developed breakthroughs in cartographic techniques, namely the "normal portolan chart", which was fine-tuned for navigational use and the plotting by compass of navigational routes, prerequisites for the discovery of the New World.



In 2005, there were over 2,400 restaurants on the island of Majorca according to the Majorcan Tourist Board, ranging from small bars to full restaurants. Olives and almonds are typical of the Majorcan diet. Among the foods that are Majorcan are sobrassada, arròs brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastry ensaïmada.

Herbs de Majorca is a herbal liqueur.


The main language spoken on the island is Catalan.[35] The two official languages of Majorca are Catalan and Spanish.[35] The local dialect of Catalan spoken in the island is mallorquí, with slightly different variants in most villages. The education is bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, with some knowledge of English.

In 2012, the then-governing People's Party announced its intention to end preferential treatment for Catalan in the Island's schools to bring parity to the two languages of the island. It was said that this could lead Majorcan Catalan to become extinct in the fairly near future, as it was being used in a situation of diglossia in favor of the Spanish language.[36] As of 2016, with the most recent election in May 2015 sweeping a pro-Catalan party and president into power, the Popular Party's policy of trilingualism has been dismantled,[37] making this outcome unlikely.


Since the 1950s, Majorca has become a major tourist destination, and the tourism business has become the main source of revenue for the island. In 2001, the island received millions of tourists, and the boom in the tourism industry has provided significant growth in the economy of the country.

The island's popularity as a tourist destination has steadily grown since the 1950s, with many artists and academics choosing to visit and live on the island. Visitors to Majorca continued to increase with holiday makers in the 1970s approaching 3 million a year. In 2010 over 6 million visitors came to Majorca. In 2013, Majorca was visited by nearly 9.5 million tourists, and the Balearic Islands as a whole reached 13 million tourists.[38]

Majorca has been jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State of Germany, due to the high number of German tourists.[39][40]

With thousands of rooms available Majorca's economy is largely dependent on its tourism industry. Holiday makers are attracted by the large number of beaches, warm weather, and high-quality tourist amenities.

Top 10 arrivals by nationality

Data from Institute of Statistics of Balearic Islands[41]

Rank Country or territory 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
1  Germany 3,237,745 3,731,458 3,710,313 3,450,687 3,308,604 2,224,709
2  United Kingdom 1,985,311 2,165,774 2,105,981 1,986,354 1,898,838 1,324,294
3  Spain 1,059,612 1,088,973 985,557 1,192,033 1,195,822 759,825
4 Nordic Countries 641,920 758,940 758,637 668,328 572,041 387,875
5  Benelux 345,837 366,130 363,911 360,973 368,930 284,845
6   Switzerland 325,241 334,871 312,491 292,226 280,401 188,826
7  France 323,241 328,681 337,891 349,712 316,124 187,589
8  Italy 203,520 165,473 154,227 173,680 200,851 135,535
9  Austria 163,477 175,530 160,890 138,287 181,993 107,991
10  Ireland 104,556 100,059 104,827 115,164 158,646 68,456

Politics and government

Emblem of the Majorca Insular Council

Regional government

The Balearic Islands, of which Majorca forms part, are one of the autonomous communities of Spain. As a whole, they are currently governed by the Balearic Islands Socialist Party (PSIB-PSOE), with Francina Armengol as their President.

The autonomous government for the island, called Consell Insular de Mallorca (Majorca Insular Council), is responsible for culture, roads, railways (see Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca) and municipal administration. The current president (as of June 2015) is Miquel Ensenyat, of More for Mallorca.

Spanish Royal Family

The members of the Spanish Royal Family spend their summer holidays[42] in Majorca where the Marivent Palace is located.[43] The Marivent Palace is the royal family's summer residence. While most royal residences are administered by Patrimonio Nacional, the Marivent Palace, in Palma de Mallorca, one of many Spanish royal sites, is under the care of Government of the Balearic Islands. As a private residence it is rarely used for official business. Typically, the whole family meets there and on the Fortuna yacht, where they take part in sailing competitions.[44] The Marivent Palace is used for some unofficial business, as when President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela visited King Juan Carlos in 2008[45] to mend their relationship and normalize diplomatic relations after the King famously[46] said to him, "Why don't you shut up?" during the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007.[47]


Ars magna, by Ramon Llull

Some of the earliest famous Majorcans lived on the island before its reconquest from the Moors, such as

Notable residents, alive in modern times

Tennis player Rafael Nadal


See also


  1. Datos oficiales del Instituto Nacional de Estadística, ver 01/01/2015
  2. "Majorca: definition". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
  3. Keenan, Steve (July 6, 2009). "Mallorca v Majorca which is correct". The Times. London.
  4. Tisdall, Nigel (2003). Mallorca. Reference to Balearic Islands autonomy. Thomas Cook Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 9781841573274.
  5. AENA Aeropuerto de Palma de Mallorca
  6. Tisdall, Nigel (2003). Mallorca. Reference to Talayot Culture on the island. Thomas Cook Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 9781841573274.
  7. Oppidum Bocchoritanum. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites .
  8. History of Mallorca. North South Guides.
  9. 1 2 The Dark Ages in Mallorca, not dated
  10. Moorish Mallorca, not dated.
  11. The Pillage People, Contemporary Balears.
  12. Toma Borbónica de Mallorca from the Spanish-language Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 28, 2015.
  13. The Spanish Civil War, Hugh Thomas (2001)
  14. "Large rise in number of foreign nationals". The Mallorca. January 15, 2009.
  15. 1 2 "Guía resumida del clima en España (1981–2010)".
  16. Cifra de población referida al 01/01/2009 según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística
  17. Tisdall, Nigel (2003). Mallorca. Reference to Puig Major and its height above sea level. Thomas Cook Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 9781841573274.
  18. "Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  19. 1 2 Johannes Höflich, Jo Angerer (2010). "Bedrohte Paradiese (2/3): Mallorca und die Balearen – Ferienparadies am Abgrund" (documentary). phoenix (in German). WDR. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  20. "La investigación del 'caso Andratx' descubre un 'pelotazo' de 10 millones en suelo rústico". El País. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  21. ANDREU MANRESA (29 December 2009). "El ex alcalde de Andratx y un ex director general entran en prisión". El País. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  22. Patrick Sawer (21 February 2009). "Scott gives evidence in holiday homes affair". Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  23. Camí de l'Arxiduc
  24. "Die Balearen in Wort und Bild". Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  25. "Majorca: sun, sand and Chopin". Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  26. "George Sand's Mallorca". Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  27. Zamoyski (2010), p. 168 (loc. 2646).
  28. "Rubén Darío en Mallorca" (PDF). Centro Virtual Cervantes. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  29. "Agatha Christie: inspired by Mallorca – Illes Balears". Govern de les Illes Balears. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  30. Jorge Luis Borges and Mallorca
  31. Jorge Luis Borges Revistas y Diarios
  32. Centro Virtual Cervantes
  33. Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró
  34. Film festival Mallorca undeated, abc-knowledge company S.L., retrieved 10 October 2015
  35. 1 2 Article 4 of the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands, 2007: "Catalan language, Balearic Islands' own language, will have, together with the Spanish language, the character of official language."
  36. "El PP recorta el peso oficial del catalán en Baleares | Política | EL PAÍS". 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  38. Flujo de turistas (FRONTUR), 2014
  39. "100 Jahre Mallorca-Tourismus: Das 17. deutsche Bundesland" (in German). Spiegel. 29 June 2005. Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  40. "Mallorca ist das 17. Bundesland". Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  41. Retrieved on July 24, 2016.
  42. "Juan Carlos: Biography from". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  43. "Spanish Royal Family pose for the press at the Marivent Palace" from Typically Spanish
  44. Family and private life
  45. "Chavez gets royal Spanish welcome". BBC News. July 25, 2008.
  46. "The 'shut up' ringtone". BBC News. July 25, 2008.
  47. "Shut up, Spain's king tells Chavez". BBC News. November 10, 2007.
  48. "Mallorca". Retrieved 2016-05-15.
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