Baleares are an archipelago, made up of five islands (Mallorca, Minorca, Cabrera, Ibiza and Formentera), and is located in the western Mediterranean Sea. The Balearic climate is pure Mediterranean, with smooth temperatures: an annual average between 16 ºC and 17.5 ºC. The mild climate, with more than 300 days of sun per year, the gorgeous landscapes and beaches, varied cultural activities, leisure or relax possibilities and the hospitality of the local inhabitants, has turned these islands into a much-visited cosmopolitan end-point of travels from places all over the world, sometimes to spend vacations, and sometimes to remain there for ever.
Tourism is the most important aspect of the Balearic economy. It is the Spanish autonomy that has the greatest number of hotel establishments, and the greatest number of apartments for visitors.
The history of these islands also has relevance while relating its attractiveness. Vestiges of a surprising megalithic culture, Punic rests or the modernism of the early XXth century are examples of the treasures that this autonomy can offer to get the visitor fascinated. The first artistic manifestations of the archipelago were the talayotic sculptures. Roman colonization left the Alcudia theatre. From Muslim times it is possible to mention the palace of Almudaina and different villages that have conserved aspects of that time, like Fornalutx. In the XIIIth century, after the conquest of the islands by the Aragonese kingdom, the gothic constructions began, like Bellver castle, the market and the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca.
The protected ecology of the islands surpasses 40% of its territory. More than 45 natural areas of special protection exist only on the island of Mallorca, 19 on Minorca and 17 on Ibiza and Formentera. Six of these natural spaces rely on a special protection regime: The Natural Reserve of Ses Salines on Ibiza and Formentera, and the Natural Parks of s´Albufera, Mondragó, sa Dragonera and s´Albufera des Grau, in addition to the National Park of Cabrera. Minorca benefits itself with the international seal of the Biosphere Reserve. Recently four historical and natural enclaves on Ibiza have been declared Human Heritage by UNESCO: The Posidonia meadows, Dalt Vila district, the necropolis of Puig des Molins and the Sa Caleta site. In addition to some enviable beaches, Ibiza and Formentera share a common ecosystem that, from an aerial perspective, seems to unite both islands: this is Ses Salines, their most famous natural reserve.
Nautical sports are some of the activities most appreciated by visitors to the islands. The marine competitions in special boat races in Palma bay are authentic events on the sports calendar. In these waters the Princess Sofia Trophy, the King’s Cup, and the Admiral Count of Barcelona Trophy are disputed, competitions which have gained international prestige. Diving has also become one of the activities more asked for on the Balearics in the last years, because it is a perfect place to appreciate the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean coasts.
Another sport much consolidated in this community is golf. The Balearics are a paradise for lovers of this sport. Winter tourists with a low handicap, eager to exercise themselves in this sport, have caused the proliferation of golf clubs all over the islands. At the present time a total of fourteen high level clubs offer the possibility to practice this sport at its peak.
For shopping maniacs, the Balearic Islands are the proper place to acquire glass crafts, ceramics, embroidering and silver jewellery. The region of Manacor, on Mallorca, is famous for its cultivated pearls that deserve world-wide praise. On the other hand, a Mallorcan municipality, Marratxí, is known like ‘Clay land’ because of its specialization in this craftsmanship.
Traditional gastronomy of the Balearics comes from a millenarian fishing and farming tradition. The ‘Ensaimada’ is well known and its name comes from the pig butter that serves as a base in dough preparation. Mayonnaise is also a very characteristic sauce in the region. Sobrassada, botifarro and camaiot are typical sausages of the zone.
Popular celebrations are the ones of San Joan de Ciutadella, with the traditional horse cavalcades, ensortilles, which consist of spitting a hoop with a lance while galloping, and jaleos, in which horses rear themselves between the multitudes. The more traditional dances are the Balearic bolero and jota, with all their variants, copeos and maitexes. On Ibiza, the typical dances of sa curt are remarkable and on Minorca the menorquines sing fandangos.
When you talk about the Balearics, Ibiza immediately comes to mind. The transformation of Ibiza in a first order tourist centre, and, in addition to it, a pilgrimage place for many youthful movements, began in the Seventies with the arrival of the hippies, who adopted the place as one of their own. This fact produced a cultural change that was added to the previous arrival of European artists, who saw in Ibiza a paradise. The nightlife of Ibiza is wild and full of energy. The native fashion and way of live, full of multiculturalism and tolerance, are an example-culture and Ibiza´s music has a fundamental importance since the island is one of the cradles of rave, and therefore its discotheques have become a landmark of European juvenile style. Ibiza nightlife is legendary, and the clubs and bars around the San Antonio area are an authentic Mecca for DJs worldwide.