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Majorca (Mallorca in Catalan and Spanish, sometimes also encountered in English),: from Latin insula maior, later Maiorica, ("major island") is one of the Balearic Islands (Catalan: Illes Balears, Spanish: Islas Baleares), which are located in the Mediterranean Sea and are a part of Spain. Like the other Balearic Islands Ibiza (Catalan: Eivissa), Formentera, and Minorca ("minor island", Catalan and Spanish: Menorca), the island is a popular tourist destination. In Germany, where package tourism to Majorca has been popular since the 1960s, it has become a synonym for mass tourism and also for birdwatchers.
The capital of the island is Palma de Mallorca, which is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Cabrera archipelago is administratively grouped with Majorca (in the municipality of Palma).
Typical dishes of Majorca are ensaïmada, a pastry made with pork lard (saïm) and sobrassada, sausage with lard and paprika.
Majorca has been inhabited since the remotest times. Burial chambers and traces of habitation from the Paleolithic period, 6000-4000 BC have been discovered.The island had been occupied by the Carthaginians before passing to the Romans in 123 BC under Quintus Caecilius Metellus, and flourished under Roman rule, during which time the towns of Pollentia (Alcudia), and Palmaria (Palma) were founded. Olive cultivation, viniculture, and salt mining supported the economy.
The Vandals sacked the island in 426, and annexed it to their kingdom in 465. In 534, Majorca was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, and administered as part of the province of Sardinia. Under Byzantine rule, Christianity flourished and numerous churches were built. However, from 707, the island came under increasing attack from Moslem raiders based in North Africa.
In 902, the Caliphate of Cordoba conquered Majorca, ushering in a new period of prosperity for the island. The Moors improved agriculture with irrigation, and developed local industries. In 1015, Majorca came under rule by the Taifa of Denia, and from 1087-1114 was an independent taifa. However, in 1114, a group of Pisa-Catalans overran the island, laying siege to Palma for 8 months. After the city fell, the invaders retreated, and were replaced by the Almoravides from North Africa, who ruled to 1203. From 1203-1229, the Almoravides were replaced by the Almohad dynasty, and in the ensuring confusion and unrest, King James I of Aragon launched an invasion with 15,000 men and 1,500 horses, annexing the island to his Kingdom of Aragon after a 3 month campaign.
After the death of James I in 1276, his kingdom was divided between his sons. James II becomes king of the new Kingdom of Majorca. In 1344, King Pedro IV of Aragon invaded, and re-incorporated the island into Aragon. In 1479, Aragon and Castile united to form the Kingdom of Spain.
The local language is Catalan, with a great deal of dialectal variety when compared to the Catalan of other areas (Catalonia, Valencia) or even the other Balearic islands. There is also a relatively large amount of variation between Majorcan localities. In view of the diversity, the local language is often termed "Majorcan" (mallorquí) or Balearic (balear) rather than the general term Catalan ( català).
Despite numerous differences between Majorcan and Central Catalan, islanders generally agree that they are varieties of the same language, whereas Valencians very often deny that their language is Catalan, and the matter is often hotly disputed.
Spanish also has the status of an official language, and many Spanish speakers moved from other parts of Spain to the island in the twentieth century. Young Majorcans are typically bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, with some knowledge of English or German as a foreign language, especially due to the large number of tourists on the island.Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.