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 LiveIbiza,
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
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.