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Bandera de Menorca.svg
Spain Balearic Islands location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Spain location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Mediterranean Sea
Coordinates 39°58′N4°05′E / 39.967°N 4.083°E / 39.967; 4.083 Coordinates: 39°58′N4°05′E / 39.967°N 4.083°E / 39.967; 4.083
Archipelago Balearic Islands
Area695.7 km2 (268.6 sq mi)
Highest elevation358 m (1,175 ft)
Highest point Monte Toro
Autonomous Community Balearic Islands
Province Balearic Islands
Capital and largest city Maó, Spanish Mahón (pop. 29,040)
Population93,397 (1 January 2019)
Pop. density134.25 /km2 (347.71 /sq mi)

Menorca (Catalan:  [məˈnɔɾkə] , Spanish:  [meˈnoɾka] ) or Minorca (English: /mɪˈnɔːrkə/ min-OR-kə; from Latin : Insula Minor, lit.  'smaller island', later Minorica) is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca.


Menorca has a population of approximately 93,397 (at 1 January 2019). [1] It is located 39°47' to 40°00'N, 3°52' to 4°24'E. Its highest point, called El Toro or Monte Toro, is 358 metres (1,175 feet) above sea level.


The island is known for its collection of megalithic stone monuments: navetes, taules and talaiots , which indicate very early prehistoric human activity. Some of the earliest culture on Menorca was influenced by other Mediterranean cultures, including the Greek Minoans of ancient Crete (see also Gymnesian Islands). For example, the use of inverted plastered timber columns at Knossos is thought to have influenced early peoples of Menorca in imitating this practice. [2]

The end of the Punic wars saw an increase in piracy in the western Mediterranean. The Roman occupation of Hispania had meant a growth of maritime trade between the Iberian and Italian peninsulas. Pirates took advantage of the strategic location of the Balearic Islands to raid Roman commerce, using both Menorca and Majorca as bases. In reaction to this, the Romans invaded Menorca. By 123 BC both islands were fully under Roman control, later being incorporated into the province of Hispania Citerior.

In 13 BC Roman emperor Augustus reorganised the provincial system and the Balearic Islands became part of the Tarraconensis imperial province. The ancient town of Mago was transformed from a Carthaginian town to a Roman town. [3]

Jews of Menorca

Historic map of Minorca by Piri Reis Minorca by Piri Reis.jpg
Historic map of Minorca by Piri Reis

The island had a Jewish population. [4] The Letter on the Conversion of the Jews by a 5th-century bishop named Severus tells of the forced conversion of the island's 540 Jewish men and women in AD 418. [5] Several Jews, including Theodore, a rich representative Jew who stood high in the estimation of his coreligionists and of Christians alike, underwent baptism. The act of conversion brought about, within a previously peaceful coexisting community, the expulsion of the ruling Jewish elite into the bleak hinterlands, the burning of synagogues, and the gradual reinstatement of certain Jewish families after the forced acceptance of Christianity, allowing the survival of those Jewish families who had not already perished. [4] Many Jews remained within the Jewish faith while outwardly professing Christian faith. Some of these Jews form part of the Xueta community.

When Menorca became a British possession in 1713, they actively encouraged the immigration of foreign non-Catholics, which included Jews who were not accepted by the predominantly Christian inhabitants. When the Jewish community in Mahon requested the use of a room as a synagogue, their request was refused and they were denounced by the clergy. In 1781, when Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon, duc de Mahon invaded Menorca, he ordered all Jews to leave in four days. At that time, the Jewish community consisted of about 500 people and they were transported from Menorca in four Spanish ships to the port of Marseille. [6]

Middle Ages

The Vandals easily conquered the island in the 5th century. The Byzantine Empire recovered it in 534. Following the Moorish conquest of peninsular Spain, Menorca was annexed to the Caliphate of Córdoba in 903, with many Moors emigrating to the island.

Manûrqa (Arabic : منورقة) was the Arabicized name given to the island by the Muslims from its annexation to the Caliphate of Cordoba by 'Isâm al-Khawlânî in 903 until the rule of the last Muslim ra'îs, Abû 'Umar ibn Sa'îd in 1287. The only urban centre of the island was Madînat al Jazîra or al Manûrqa (modern Ciutadella). Most of the population lived in small farm communities organized under a tribal structure.

In 1231, after Christian forces took Majorca, Menorca chose to become an independent Islamic state, albeit one tributary to King James I of Aragon. The island was ruled first by Abû 'Uthmân Sa'îd Hakam al Qurashi (1234–1282), and following his death by his son, Abû 'Umar ibn Sa'îd (1282–1287).

A Catalan-Aragonese invasion, led by Alfonso III, came on 17 January 1287; its anniversary is now celebrated as Menorca's national day. Once the island was captured, most of its Muslim inhabitants were enslaved and sold in the slave markets of Ibiza, Valencia and Barcelona, while others became Christians. Only one hundred Muslims were allowed to remain on the island. [ citation needed ]

Until 1344 the island was part of the Kingdom of Majorca, a vassal state of the Crown of Aragon. Aragon subsequently annexed the kingdom and was then absorbed itself into the unified Spanish crown. During the 16th century, Turkish naval attacks destroyed Mahon, and the then capital, Ciutadella. In Mahon, Barbary pirates from North Africa took considerable booty and as many as 6,000 slaves. [7] Various Spanish kings, including Philip III and Philip IV, styled themselves "King of Minorca" as a subsidiary title.

18th century

Attack and capture of Fort St. Philip, 29 June 1756 Prise Port Mahon Minorque 20 mai 1756.jpg
Attack and capture of Fort St. Philip, 29 June 1756
Port Mahon, Minorca with British men-of-war at anchor after its capture in 1798. By John Thomas Serres John Thomas Serres - Port Mahon, Minorca with British Men-of-War at Anchor - Google Art Project.jpg
Port Mahon, Minorca with British men-of-war at anchor after its capture in 1798. By John Thomas Serres

Invaded by Britain's Royal Navy in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, Minorca temporarily became a British possession. Great Britain took possession in 1713, under the terms of Article XI of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under the governorship of General Richard Kane, this period saw the island's capital moved to Port Mahon and a naval base established in that town's harbour.

In 1756, during the Seven Years' War, France captured the island after the Siege of Fort St Philip and a failed British relief attempt. The 1763 Treaty of Paris enabled the British to return to the island after Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War. In 1781, during the American War of Independence, the British were defeated for a second time, in this instance by a combination of French and Spanish forces, and on 5 January 1782 the Spanish regained control of the island, after a long siege of St. Philip's Castle in Port Mahon. On the feast of the Epiphany, as an expression of joy, King Charles III of Spain ordered the viceroys, captains general, governors, and military commanders to bring together the garrisons and to extend his greetings to army commanders on the so-called Pascua Militar. The British ceded the island back to Spain the next year in the Treaty of Versailles. Menorca was invaded by the British once again in 1798, during the French Revolutionary Wars, but it was finally and permanently repossessed by Spain by the terms of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. The British influence can still be seen in local architecture, with elements such as sash windows.

As with the rest of the Balearic Islands, Menorca was not occupied by the French during the Peninsular War, as it was successfully protected by the Royal Navy, this time allied to Spain.


During the Spanish Civil War, Menorca stayed loyal to the Republican Spanish Government, while the rest of the Balearic Islands supported the Nationalists. It did not see ground combat, however the island was a target of aerial bombing by the pro-Nationalist Italians of Corpo Truppe Volontarie Air Force. Many Minorcans were also killed when taking part in a failed invasion of Majorca. Also some Majorcans and a priest were executed in Minorca during the Pedro Marqués Barber era (July–December 1936). After Nationalist victory in the Battle of Minorca in February 1939, the British Navy assisted in a peaceful transfer of power in Minorca and the evacuation of some political refugees aboard HMS Devonshire.

In October 1993, Minorca was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. In July 2005, the island's application to become the 25th member of the International Island Games Association was approved.


As the major part of Balearic Islands, Menorca has a mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa ), with mild winters and hot summers.

Climate data for Mahón – Minorca Airport 91m (1981–2010), Extremes (1965–2017)
Record high °C (°F)21.2
Mean maximum °C (°F)17.6
Average high °C (°F)14.1
Daily mean °C (°F)10.8
Average low °C (°F)7.5
Mean minimum °C (°F)3.6
Record low °C (°F)−2.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)52
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)77664212578964
Mean monthly sunshine hours 1441462022222703113473122251831421302,632
Source #1: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología [8]
Source #2: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología [9]
Climate data for Menorca
Average sea temperature °C (°F)14.6
Average Ultraviolet index 2356899864225.3
Source #1: [10]
Source #2: Weather Atlas [11]


Port de Mao (Mahon) Mahon-Hafen.jpg
Port de Maó (Mahón)

The location of Minorca in the middle of the western Mediterranean was a staging point for the different cultures since prehistoric times. This Balearic Island has a mix of colonial and local architecture.

The festes take place throughout the summer in different towns around the island, and have their origins in the early 14th century. [12] The international opera week and international organ festival in Mahon, and the summer music festival and Capella Davidica concerts in Ciutadella are the main events of the island.

Minorca's cuisine is dominated by the Mediterranean diet which is known to be very healthy. While many of the locals have adopted modern attitudes they still uphold certain old traditions. [13]

Traditional celebrations

Menorquin horse ridden by caixer at festes Menorca jaleo.jpg
Menorquín horse ridden by caixer at festes

Minorca is especially well known for its traditional summer fiestas, which intrigue many visitors. The Festes de Sant Joan are held annually in Ciutadella de Menorca, during 23–25 June. The festes last for three days. On the first day, a man bears a well-groomed sheep upon his shoulders and parades around the local streets. In the late evening, main streets are closed and bonfires held upon them.

On the second day, locally bred black horses are dressed with ribbons and rosettes. The riders, or "caixers", ride the horses through the streets and, along with a tumultuous crowd of people, encourage them to rear up on their hind legs. The brave can be found running underneath them in an attempt to touch the horses hearts for good luck. [ citation needed ]

The third day sees intense competition between the riders in a harmless form of jousting that involves spearing a suspended ring with a lance at considerable speed. The festes are brought to a close with a firework display.


As a small island, it is very seldom that there is a chance to see top level sport competitions in Menorca. In football, CF Sporting Mahonés managed to play in Segunda División B, the third level of the Spanish football league system, between 1987–1993 and between 2009–2012. In basketball, Menorca Bàsquet played in the Liga ACB, the first tier level men's professional basketball league in Spain, between 2005–2009 and in 2010–2011. Incidentally, both clubs dissolved in 2012 due to financial problems.

In the last years, some sport events that gather hundreds of participants are successfully held on a yearly basis, such as the triathlon race Extreme Man Menorca or the single-staged ultramarathon race Trail Menorca Camí de Cavalls. In 2014 it was announced that the island would host the 18th editions of the Island Games in 2019, however Menorca later pulled out of hosting the event, citing a change of government as the main reason. [14]


The two official languages are Catalan and Spanish. [15] Natives to the island speak the variety of Catalan called Menorquí, and they typically speak Spanish fluently as a second language; many residents originating from the mainland are monolingual in Spanish.

A 2014 survey carried out by the Government of the Balearic Islands found that 53.5% of participants identified themselves as Catalan speakers, 36.7% as Spanish speakers, and 7.7% as bilingual speakers. [16]

The Catalan spoken in Menorca is a variety known as Menorquí. Between Menorquí and standard Catalan, as with most Balearic dialects, the most distinctive difference is the word used for the article "the", where Menorquí uses "es" for masculine and "sa" for feminine. Menorquí thus shares the source of its article with many Sardinian varieties (masc. sing. su, fem sing. sa), rather than the standard Catalan "el" and "la", similar to other Romance languages (e.g. Spanish el, la, Italian il, la), corresponding to a form which was historically used along the Costa Brava of Catalonia, from where it is supposed that the islands were repopulated after being conquered from the Moors.

Menorquí also has a few English loan words dating back to the British rule such as "grevi", "xumaquer", "boinder" and "xoc" taken from "gravy", "shoemaker", "bow window" and "chalk", respectively. [17]

Food and drink

Bottle of Gin Xoriguer, the typical gin from Menorca. It is very often mixed with lemonade Gin Xoriguer.jpg
Bottle of Gin Xoriguer, the typical gin from Menorca. It is very often mixed with lemonade

Wine production has been known on the island since ancient times, but it went into a heavy decline over the last century. Now, several new, small wineries have started up, producing wines locally. [18]

Lingering British influence is seen in the Menorcans' taste for gin, which during local festes honoring towns' patron saints is mixed with lemonade (or bitter lemon) to make a golden liquid known as Pomada. Gin from Menorca is not derived from grain alcohol but from wine alcohol (eau de vie de vin), making it more akin to brandy. It has the distinction to have geographical identity protection. Probably the best known gin is Gin Xoriguer which is named after the typical Menorcan windmill which was used to make the first gin. One of the reasons it is also known as Gin de Minorca or Gin de Mahón.

Also famous is Mahón cheese, a cheese typical of the island.

One origin story of mayonnaise is that it was brought back to France from Mahon, Menorca, after Louis-François-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu's victory over the British at the city's port in 1756. [19]

Sweets known as flaons are one of the typical gastronomic products of Menorca.



Menorca is rich in wild flowers with over 900 species of flowering plants recorded. Many are those typical of the Mediterranean but some are endemic. There are 24 or 25 species of orchid found and of these most flower early in the year in late March, April and May.


Cleopatra, Algendar gorge. Cleopatra butterfly menorca.jpg
Cleopatra, Algendar gorge.

30 species of butterflies have been recorded on Menorca and most are on the wing from March to late September. The species that occur include the Cleopatra, Lang's short tailed blue and the two-tailed pasha.
Despite not having many large wetlands dragonflies abound on Menorca. Seventeen species have been recorded including the emperor dragonfly.

Reptiles and amphibians

There are three species of amphibia: green toad (Bufo viridis), marsh frog and stripeless tree frog (Hyla meridionalis). The common lizard seen all over the island is the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus) although the Moroccan rock lizard (Scelaris perspicillata) also occurs. The Balearic endemic Lilford's wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi) can be found on many of the offshore islands. Two species of gecko can be found on Menorca, the Moorish (Tarentola mauritanica) and the Turkish (Hemidactylus turcicus) also called the Mediterranean house gecko. Four species of snake occur: the viperine snake (Natrix maura), grass snake, false smooth snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus) and the ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris).

Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is quite common and can be found all over the island. Two terrapin species are also found, the native European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) and the introduced American red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta).


The birdlife of Menorca is very well known. Menorca is a well watched island which is on the migration route of many species and good number of passage migrants can be seen in spring. [20] Residents include Audouin's gull, blue rock thrush and Thekla lark. Booted eagle and red kite are easy to see as is Egyptian vulture in the right habitat. In summer there are bee-eaters and Menorca has major colonies of Cory's shearwater and Balearic shearwater.


Menorca has no large native mammals. There are some small mammals including rabbits, bats, rats, mice, pine martens and a subspecies of North African hedgehog.


Municipal boundaries in Menorca Mapa Menorca Municipis.jpg
Municipal boundaries in Menorca

The major towns are Port Mahon and Ciutadella de Menorca. The island is administratively divided into eight municipalities (from west to east):

The areas and populations of the municipalities (according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Spain) are:

Census Population
1 November 2001
Census Population
1 November 2011
Estimated Population
1 January 2019
Ciutadella de Menorca 186.323,10329,51029,840
Ferreries 66.14,0484,6674,777
Es Mercadal 138.33,0895,2925,038
Es Migjorn Gran 31.41,1671,5201,405
Alaior 109.97,1089,4509,065
Port Mahon (Maó)117.223,31528,78929,040
Es Castell 11.76,4247,8957,434
Sant Lluís 34.83,2707,2756,798

See also

Related Research Articles

Mahón Municipality in Balearic Islands, Spain

Maó-Mahón, sometimes written in English as Mahon is a municipality, the capital city of the island of Menorca, and seat of the Island Council of Menorca. The city is located on the eastern coast of the island, which is part of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands, Spain. Maó-Mahón has one of the longest natural harbours in the world: 5 km (3.1 mi) long and up to 900 metres wide. The water is deep but it remains mostly clear due to it being slightly enclosed. It is also said to be the birthplace of mayonnaise.

Abû ‘Uthman Sa’îd ibn Hakam al Qurashi was the first Ra’îs of Manûrqa from 1234 to 1282.

Balearic cuisine

Balearic cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine as cooked in the Balearic Islands, Spain. It can be regarded as part of a wider Catalan cuisine, since it shares many dishes and ingredients with Catalonia and the Valencian Community. Others view it as part of a more global Spanish cuisine. Traditional Balearic cuisine is rich in vegetables, cereal and legumes as well as being low in fats. A succinct selection of the primary dishes would be ensaimades, seafood and vegetable stews, sobrassada, coques, tombet, Maó cheese and wine.

Es Mercadal Municipality in Balearic Islands, Spain

Mercadal is a town and municipality in northern Menorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands.

Es Migjorn Gran Municipality in Balearic Islands, Spain

Es Migjorn Gran is a small municipality in southern Menorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands. Formerly incorporated into the municipality of Es Mercadal, it is currently the island's newest and second-smallest municipal district. The main inland village of Es Migjorn Gran is surrounded by small pine-clad hills, and the coast is home to a small variety of tourist resorts and unspolit beaches, Santo Tomas being the principal resort. There are many 'calas' or coves that are encompassed by pine-covered cliffs along the coast, where there are small sandy beaches only accessible by foot or by sea, which mean they are very rarely busy.

Sant Lluís Municipality in Balearic Islands, Spain

Sant Lluís is a municipality on the tip of south-east Menorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands.

The history of the Jews in the Balearic Islands goes back more than a thousand years.

Minorca chicken breed of chicken

The Minorca, Catalan: Gallina de Menorca, Spanish: Menorquina, is a breed of domestic chicken originating in the Mediterranean island of Menorca, in the Balearic Islands to the south-east of Spain. It is a well-known exhibition bird in many countries of the world, but in the island of Menorca is an endangered breed and considered to be at risk of extinction.

El Toro (Menorca) mountain on Minorca, Spain

El Toro in Catalan, sometimes known by its Spanish name of Monte Toro, is the tallest hill of the island of Menorca, rising to a height of 342 m (1,122 ft). The mountain is home to the Sanctuary of the Verge del Toro. The mountain's summit can be accessed by automobile or on foot, from which there is a fantastic view of the nearby areas of the island.

Balearic Islands Archipelago in the Mediterranean, autonomous community, and province of Spain

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Capture of Minorca (1708)

The Capture of Menorca saw the island of Menorca captured from Spain by British-Dutch forces acting on behalf of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor the Austrian claimant to the Spanish throne in September 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession. The British would later annex the island as their own possession at the Treaty of Utrecht (1713).

Menorquín dialect of Catalan spoken in Menorca, Spain

Menorcan is a dialect of Catalan spoken on the island of Menorca, in the Balearic Islands. It is very similar linguistically to the Mallorcan (mallorquí) and Ibizan dialects of Catalan spoken in the Balearic islands. It also has many similarities to English and French, as well as containing anglicisms of the British rule on the island. Some examples are xoc (chalk), boínder (bow-window) or bòtil (bottle).

Naveta dEs Tudons cultural property in Ciudadela, Spain

The Naveta d'Es Tudons, or Naveta of Es Tudons, is the most remarkable megalithic chamber tomb in the Balearic island of Menorca, Spain.

Talaiotic culture archaeological culture

The Talaiotic Culture or Talaiotic Period is the name used to describe the society that existed on the Gymnesian Islands during the Iron Age. Its origins date from the end of the second millennium BC, when the inaccurately named Pre-Talaiotic Culture underwent a crisis and evolved into the Talaiotic Culture. Its name is derived from the talaiots, which are the most abundant and emblematic structures from the prehistoric period of the Balearic Islands.

Joan Ramis Spanish writer

Joan Ramis i Ramis was a lawyer, writer and historian from Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.

Més per Menorca

Més per Menorca is a Menorcan political party. It was a coalition formed by the Socialist Party of Menorca, Republican Left, The Greens of Menorca, Equo, local parties and independents around the island until 2017. MpM was created in July 2014. Until May 2017 it had been linked to the similarly-named alliance in Majorca.

Cala Morell Settlement archaeological site in Menorca, Spain

The settlement of Cala Morell is a Menorcan pretalayotic archaeological site which is located in Ciutadella de Menorca. It is situated on a 35-meter-high coastal headland which closes the northeast side of Cala Morell's bay. This promontory is protected by a dry-stone wall, which is found in the area where the promontory connects to solid ground. It shares many features with another site which is located some kilometers away from it: Es Castellet des Pop Mosquer.

Cuisine of Menorca

Minorcan cuisine refers to the typical food and drink of Minorca.


  1. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Madrid, 2019.
  2. C. Michael Hogan (2007) Knossos fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian
  3. Henry Christmas, The Shores and Islands of the Mediterranean, Published 1851, R. Bentley
  4. 1 2 Elukin, Jonathan M. Living Together, Living Apart : Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages. Vol. Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the ancient to the modern world. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007.
  5. Bradbury, Scott, ed. trans. (1996). Severus of Minorca: Letter on the Conversion of the Jews (Oxford Early Christian Texts). Oxford University Press. p. 154. ISBN   978-0-19-826764-5.
  6. Gregory, Desmond (1990). Minorca, the Illusory Prize: A History of the British Occupations of Minorca between 1708 and 1802. Cranbury, NJ, USA: Associated University Presses, Inc. p. 132. ISBN   0-8386-3389-7.
  7. M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936. BRILL. p. 872. ISBN   90-04-09790-2.
  8. "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Minorca / Aeropuerto". November 2015.
  9. "Valores Climatológicos Extremos. Minorca / Aeropuerto". December 2017.[ dead link ]
  10. "Menorca Sea Temperature". Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  11. "Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain – Monthly weather forecast and Climate data". Weather Atlas. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  12. Website Oficial Minorca Archived 2 May 2003 at [ dead link ]
  13. "Minorca Geography – Information, climate and weather in Minorca".
  14. "Island Games: Menorca pull out of hosting 2019 event". 6 July 2015 via
  15. Article 4, Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands, 2007: "The Catalan language, typical of the Balearic Islands, will have official consideration, together with Spanish."
  16. Diario de Ibiza: Las Pitiusas son las islas de Balears en las que menos se conoce y se usa el catalán (In Spanish)
  17. Menorquin English words.
  18. Miquel Hudin (2013), Vinologue Minorca, Leavenworth Press, p. 75, ISBN   978-0-983-77187-6
  19. Trager, James (1995). The Food Chronology . New York: Henry Hold and Company. p.  163.
  20. "Migrant Birds of Menorca".

Further reading