Native name: Mallorca

Flag of Majorca
Majorca is located in Spain
Majorca (Spain)
Location Mediterranean Sea
Coordinates Coordinates: 39°37′N 2°59′E / 39.617°N 2.983°E / 39.617; 2.983
Archipelago Balearic Islands
Major islands Balearic Islands
Area 3,640.11 km2 (1,405.454 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,445 m (4,741 ft)
Highest point Puig Major
Autonomous Community  Balearic Islands
Province Balearic Islands
Largest city Palma (pop. 404,681)
Population 869,067 (as of 1 January 2010)
Density 238.75 /km2 (618.36 /sq mi)

Majorca or Mallorca (Catalan: Mallorca, IPA: [məˈʎɔrkə] or [məˈʎɔrcə]; Spanish: Mallorca, IPA: [maˈʎorka])[1] is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the Balearic Islands.

The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. 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 Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca, the island is a highly popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and the Scandinavian countries. The name derives from Latin insula maior, "larger island"; later Maiorica, "the larger one" in comparison to Minorca, "the smaller one."



Founding of Majorca

Burial chambers and traces of habitation from the Paleolithic period (6000–4000 BC) have been discovered. 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. The local economy was largely driven by olive cultivation, viticulture, and salt mining. Majorcan soldiers[2] were valued within the Roman legions for their skill with the sling.

In 426, the Vandals sacked the island, and annexed it to their kingdom in 465. In 534, Majorca was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, and administered as part of the province of Sardinia. Under Byzantine rule, Christianity flourished and numerous churches were built. But from 707, the island was increasingly attacked by Muslim raiders from North Africa.

Historic map of Majorca and Minorca by the Ottoman admiral Piri Reis

In 902, the Caliphate of Córdoba conquered Majorca, ushering in a new period of prosperity for the island. With the Caliphate at its height, the Moors improved agriculture with irrigation and developed local industries.

After the Caliphate was dismembered in 1015, a new, more decadent, era started. 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. However, in 1114, an expedition of Pisans and Catalans overran the island, laying siege to Palma for eight months.

After the city fell, the invaders retreated, and were replaced by the Almoravides from North Africa, who ruled till 1176. The Almoravides were replaced by the Almohad dynasty until 1229. In the ensuing confusion and unrest, King James I of Aragon launched an invasion which landed on Santa Ponsa, Majorca, on September 8–9, 1229 with 15,000 men and 1,500 horses, entering the city of Medina Mayurqa on December 31, 1229, and annexing the island to his Crown of Aragon after a campaign which climaxed on October 30, 1230.

After the death of James I in 1276, his kingdom was divided between his sons. James II became king of the new Kingdom of Majorca. In 1344, King Peter IV of Aragon invaded, and re-incorporated the island into the Crown.

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 coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. In 1570, King Philip II of Spain and his advisors were considering complete evacuation of the Balearic islands.[3] In the early 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession resulted in the replacement of that dynastic union with a unified Spanish monarchy. In 1716, the Nueva Planta decrees made Majorca part of the Spanish province of Baleares, roughly equivalent to present-day Illes Balears province and autonomous community. In 1891 a disease destroyed Majorca’s vineyards and decimated the island's main source of income. From 1891 to 1895 Majorca witnessed a major emigration of islanders to mainland Spain and to the Americas.


Portals Vells bay in the municipality of Calvià, the caves supplied the stone used to build Palma cathedral

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 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.

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 inland, superior Nationalist air power mainly provided by Fascist Italy forced the Republicans to retreat and to leave the island completely by September 12. Those events became known as the Battle of Majorca.

For the rest of the civil war the island was used as a base for the Nationalist navy and airforce, who mounted raids on the Spanish mainland.

Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a centre of attraction for foreign visitors and attracting workers from mainland Spain. The boom in tourism caused Palma to grow significantly. In 1960, Majorca received 500,000 visitors, while in 1997, it received 6,739,700. In 2008, 22,832,865 passengers passed through the Palma de Mallorca Airport with an additional 1.5 million arriving by sea.

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.[4]

Prehistoric settlements

  • Capocorb Vell (Llucmajor municipality)
  • Necròpoli de Son Real (east of Can Picafort, Santa Margalida municipality)
  • Novetiforme Alemany (Magaluf, Calvià)
  • Poblat Talaiòtic de S’Illot (S’Illot, Sant Llorenç des Cardassar municipality)
  • Poblat Talaiòtic de Son Fornés (Montuïri municipality)
  • Sa Canova de Morell (road to Colònia de Sant Pere, Artà municipality)
  • Ses Païsses (Artà municipality)
  • Ses Talaies de Can Jordi (Santanyí municipality)
  • S’Hospitalet Vell (road to Cales de Mallorca, Manacor municipality)


The climate of Majorca is a Mediterranean climate, with mild and stormy winters and hot, bright summers.

Climate data for Palma de Mallorca (Satelitte view)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.7
Average low °C (°F) 8.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 43
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 5 5 4 6 4 2 1 1 4 7 6 6 52
Sunshine hours 165 168 204 231 280 307 342 313 228 204 165 154 2,763
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[5]


Satellite image

Majorca has two mountainous regions each about 70 km in length. These occupy the north-western (Serra de Tramuntana or Tramuntana range) and eastern thirds of the island. The highest peak on Majorca is Puig Major (1,445 m) in the Serra de Tramuntana. As this is a military zone, the neighbouring peak at Puig de Massanella is the highest accessible peak (1,364 m). 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 generally flat fertile plain known as Es Pla. The island has a variety of caves both above and below sea-level. Two of the caves above sea-level also contain underground lakes and are open to tours. Both are near the eastern coastal town of Porto Cristo, the Coves dels Hams and the Coves del Drach. It is the largest by area and second most populated island of Spain (Tenerife in the Canary Islands).[7] The climate is Mediterranean, with markedly higher precipitation in the Serra de Tramuntana. Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild to cool, getting colder in the Tramuntana range; in this part of the island brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.

There are two small islands off the coast of Majorca: Cabrera (southeast of Palma) and Dragonera (west of Palma).


Municipalities of Majorca

The island is administratively divided into these municipalities:

Notable Majorcans

Famous Majorcans include writer and philosopher Ramon Llull and Junípero Serra, the Franciscan friar who founded the mission chain in Alta California. From the 19th century, the military commander Joaquín Jovellar y Soler and two-time Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Maura. Sportsmen from the island include basketball player Rudy Fernández, as well as (former) world no. 1 tennis players Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moyá. Rafael Nadal's uncle is the former Spanish international footballer, Miguel Ángel Nadal. In 2006, Majorca's Jorge Lorenzo won the world 250cc grand prix motorcycle title and the 2010 MotoGP World Championship . Former Everton footballer, Duncan Ferguson now resides in Majorca. Cynthia Lennon, former wife of John Lennon of the Beatles also lives in Majorca.

The island is home to dance artist/producer DJ Sammy and contemporary painters such as Miquel Barceló, José María Sicilia, and Astrid Colomar. Maria del Mar Bonet and her brother Joan Ramon Bonet, both members of the group of Catalan language singers known as Els Setze Jutges in the 1960s, are from Majorca, as is the contemporary pop group Antònia Font.

The members of the Spanish Royal Family spend their summer holidays[8] in Majorca where the Marivent Palace (image) is located.[9] The Marivent Palace (image & map) 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 the Fortuna yacht, where they take part in sailing competitions.[10] However, unofficial business does occur (though rarely) at the Marivent Palace such as when Hugo Chávez, current (2009) President of Venezuela, visited King Juan Carlos at the Marivent Palace in 2008[11] to mend their relationship and normalize diplomatic relations after the King (now famously[12]) told him, "Why don't you shut up?" during the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007.[13]

Port de Sóller on the northwest coast of the island


Majorca's own language is Catalan.[14] The two official languages of Majorca are Catalan and Spanish. The local dialect of Catalan is Mallorquí, even though the dialects are slightly different in most villages. Typically, young Majorcans are bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, with some knowledge of English. A significant number of the tourist population speaks German as a native language, so much so that in Germany, Majorca is jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State.


Typical scenery of Majorca
Typical coastal scenery of Mallorca, which generally is dominated by fine white sandy beaches, caves, and rocky coves like this one.

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. More than half of the population works in the tourist sector, which accounts for approximately 80% of Majorca’s GDP. The currency currently used in Majorca is the euro.


The Balearic Islands, of which Majorca forms part, is one of the autonomous communities of Spain. It is governed by a coalition of five different leftist and nationalist parties headed by the Partit Socialista (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) under Francesc Antich.

There is a government for the island, called Consell Insular de Mallorca (Majorca Insular Council), with responsibility for culture, roads, railways (see Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca) and municipal administration. As of 2008, the president of the institution is Francina Armengol from PSIB-PSOE[where?].



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. Despite Majorca’s location in the Mediterranean, seafood is often imported. Olives and almonds are typical of the Majorcan diet. The island has over 4 million almond and olive trees. Among the food items that are Majorcan are sobrassada, arros brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastry ensaïmada.


The popularity of the island as a tourist destination has been steadily growing since the 1950s with many artists and academics choosing to visit and even 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 staying at the many resorts. With millions 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.

See also

Portal icon Catalan-speaking Countries portal
Portal icon Spain portal


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