Guide to Mallorca, largest and most popular of the Spanish Balearic Islands.
The Balearic Islands - Mallorca
Mallorca (better known as Majorca in Britain) is the largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, an island group which includes Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Mallorca was one of the pioneers of mass tourism and by the 1980's became all that is wrong about a tourist destination - high-rise hotels, rowdy bars and discos, sweaty bodies and sardine packed beaches.
These days Mallorca is trying to throw off this cheap and cheerful image in an attempt to attract a more upmarket clientele. Tourism, has of course, been kind to Mallorca, it first received over 1 million visitors in 1966, this had risen to over 8 million by 2005, and a large part of the islands income comes from its tourism industry.
Such popular resorts as Magaluf (Mallorca's Benidorm), Palma Nova and Santa Ponsa did much to give the island a bad name, but they have sustained their popularity, and while possibly not everyone's "cup of tea", still have much to offer.
When you mention Mallorca (Majorca) to most people, they automatically think of packed beaches and late night discos full of booze filled revellers, but there is much more to Mallorca than this. Though it is a relatively small island (100km by 75km), it has widely varying landscapes and is rich in flora and fauna.
The Serra Tramuntana and Serra de Levant are its two mountain ranges and these are divided by a central fertile plain. These areas are well away from the the tourist hot-spots and you will find peace and tranquility here, enjoy some spectacular scenery and possibly spot a rare bird or two.
There are plenty of small unspoilt villages in Majorca where life goes on much as it has for a thousand years or more, though very few places on Mallorca are totally untouched by tourism.
The first habitation on Mallorca was in around 5000 BC and the first real culture was the Talaiotic which created settlements at places like Artà and Capocorb Vell in around 1000 BC. The Romans arrived in 123 BC, they conquered the island and named it Balearis Major, their capital was established at Pollentia (Alcúdia). After the fall of the Roman Empire in the west during the 5th century AD, the Vandals invaded, and they were in turn replaced by the Byzantines, and Mallorca was included in the province of Sardinia.
In around 902 AD the Moors invaded and this was the beginning of over 300 years of Arab rule during which time Mallorca became part of the Caliphate of Córdoba. The Moors introduced their advanced irrigation techniques which allowed for the cultivation of many new crops including oranges and almonds.
In 1229 Mallorca was re-conquered for the Christians by forces under Jaime I of Aragon, his son (Jaime II) later became the first King of Mallorca.
The first tourism to Mallorca started in the early 20th century but this modern industry did not really take off in a big way until the 1960's when the Son Sant Joan Airport opened, by 1966 Mallorca was attracting over 1 million visitors annualy.
There is plenty to see and do in Mallorca and there is something for everybody, it is still a great location for a sun and fun, beach based holiday, most head for the big coastal resorts such as Magaluf, Santa Ponsa and Puerto Pollensa, but it is also perfect for hiking and cycling, where maybe the mountainous areas would be preferred. Those who like a bit of culture can head for the capital Palma de Mallorca, where the magnificent Gothic cathedral amazes and astounds, or perhaps to the old Roman capital at Alcúdia, where there are remains of Roman houses and an ampitheatre. For shopping you can head for the capital Palma de Mallorca, or maybe visit one of the many Mallorca street markets.
Growing more popular is the eastern coastline where resorts such as Cala D'Or, Cala Ferrera, Porto Colom, Cala Santanyi, Porto Petro, Cala Figuera, Calas de Mallorca, Cala Llombards and Porto Cristo are attracting increasing numbers of visitors.
Mallorca in all has 555 km of coastline and around 80 fine beaches, many with 'Blue Flag' status, it enjoys a wonderful Mediterranean climate with an average 7 hours sunshine per day throughout the year. The official languages of Mallorca are Catalan and Spanish (Castillian), the resident population number around 800,000 about half of whom live in the capital Palma.
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Mallorca Places: Alcudia - Andratx - Arta - Cala Bona - Cala Millor - Cala Mondrago - Cala Ratjada - Cala San Vicente - Calvia - Can Pastilla - Can Picafort - Capdepera - Colonia Sant Jordi - Deia - El Arenal - Felanitx - Inca - Llucmajor - Manacor - Muro - Petra - Pollensa - Santanyi - Ses Salines - Sineu - Soller - Valldemossa - Playa de Muro
Other Links: Weather in Mallorca