Ibiza History Culture

Established 1982
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History in Ibiza

History of Ibiza
by Emily Kaufman

Día de Baleares


Saints & Fiestas

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.

Emily Kaufman