Greetings and welcome to a new page in our
website, the 'History of Ibiza'. It has been our
experience that many people are interested in history, but
few will admit to it publicly. Perhaps the privacy of a web
page is the means by which the deeds of Ibiza's venerable
past may be made known to the reticent seeker. There is no
need to further resist indoctrination: the eminence of Ibiza's
antiquity is a given. It is attested to by a cornucopia of
archaeological findings, ancient documents and monumental
architecture which, in turn, have spawned a wealth of written
materials, ranging from the general and informative to the
technical and specific. It is a wonder that so much of this
historical legacy goes unheeded by so many. One clear question,
then, seems to emerge: do you wish to remain in the dark,
or to join the ranks of the informed elite?
Well, now that we've used various psychological
tactics to inveigle you into reading us, I suppose it's safe
to say that this week we will not be reporting on history!
- unless a tradition that began three years ago could be classified
as historical, which I doubt. Instead, due to a timely coincidence
in current events, we have decided to devote our first instalment
to a political happening which, granted, could become an historical
fixture in time.
Red Letter Day
Getting to the point, the Thursday just
gone, March 1st, was 'Day of the Balearic Islands', a newly
created bank holiday in Ibiza. As of 1999, this date has been
set aside by each of the four main islands in the archipelago
(Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera) to commemorate the
start of autonomous provincial rule, i.e. independence from
the central Spanish government in matters of local legislation
and law enforcement. The actual Statute of Autonomy was signed
all the way back in 1983, but it was not until three years
ago that the first of March - the day the statue went into
effect - was established as a day of public commemoration.
The Balearics have been running their own show, so to speak,
for eighteen years now, for which reason local journalist,
Mar Serra, has quipped that the archipelago has finally come
of age in terms of national politics.
This year, local politicians have demonstrated
a high degree of sensibility to the large number of foreigners
living within their shores and, to this end, have translated
their Statute of Autonomy into both English and German. Interesting
as that reading will undoubtedly prove to some, a nutshell
résumé may be in order. The fundamental institutions
of Balearic government are the 'Govern Balear', a trans-insular
council which serves the four main islands, and three subsidiary
councils (a.k.a. 'Consell Insular') one in Majorca, one in
Minorca and one in Ibiza which serves both Pitiuses. As a
matter of interest, the term 'Pitiusa' refers to Ibiza and
Formentera jointly. These ruling bodies are run along the
accepted lines of European democracy with elections being
held every four years.
The Year of Ibiza
Each year one of the islands takes it in
turn to celebrate its own achievements, and as fate would
have it, this year the honour fell to Ibiza. Two medals were
given, one to the Institute for Ibicenco Studies in gratitude
for their long years of service, and the other to the Ibicenco
painter, Rafel Tur Costa in recognition of his success within
the international art panorama. We, at Ibiza History Culture,
are very happy that some type of awards ceremony has finally
been created so that the hard work and dedication of the islands'
many institutions and individuals will no longer go unnoticed.
In particular, we owe an incalculable debt to the Institute
for Ibicenco Studies for the storehouse of information they
have put at our disposal, always with genuine kindness and
always as a free public service. As the weeks roll by, we
are sure that you who read us will come to share our appreciation.
In the Beginning
Now that we've delved into the islands'
new-found political identity, let's take a few lines to explore
where the Balearics came from, long before councils ever existed.
The rock from which these islands are made was born from the
sea some 155 million years ago during the Jurassic period.
This rock was not yet in the form of islands, but belonged
to a larger land mass. Then, at the beginning of the Lower
Tertiary, Eurasia and Africa collided, causing the still undifferentiated
Balearics to be heaved up into a chain of rock known as the
Betica Mountain Range. This petrous arm extended from the
southern coast of Spain to what is now Majorca. As the continental
plates continued to shift, the rock split up, forming the
individual islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Majorca.
Curiously, Minorca was already standing,
exactly where she stands today, for millions of years before
any of this happened - a passive onlooker, as it were, to
an approaching band of geological splitters. Although her
present-day vegetation is similar to that of her 'step-sisters',
it is clear to see that her contours are much less jagged
than those of the other islands, having been rounded by primal
winds for many more aeons. Minorca, then, is included in the
Balearic Archipelago purely by coincidence and bears no geological
kinship to the rest of the islands.
As for the three southern isles, the geological
progression from one to the other is quite observable. The
northern part of Ibiza is a continuum of Majorca's ruggedness,
while its southern shores already foreshadow the graceful
smoothness of Formentera. In fact, depending on the fluctuations
of the Ice Age seas, Ibiza and Formentera would at times comprise
one continuous land mass before being separated again by rising
Pleistocene waters. It is not so surprising then that, in
the modern day, the Pitiuses should be represented by one
council. They have been linked since the beginnings of time.
Well, that wraps it up for this week. We
hope you've enjoyed the history page - despite the fact that
we've jumped from current events straight back to the Mesozoic,
bypassing the historical era altogether. We do urge you to
join us next week when we might just get round to something
pertinent. Special thanks to Mar Serra, political specialist,
for her valuable time and information.