Balearic Islands,(Spanish:Islas Baleares), a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km) off the coast of Spain. Together, they form the Spanish province of Baleares. The major islands are Mallorca (Majorca), Menorca (Minorca), Ibiza (Iviza), and Formentera. Total area is 1,936 square miles (5,014 km2). All the islands are mountainous and covered with pine forests. Puig Mayor (4,741 feet [1,445 m]), the islands' highest peak, is on Mallorca.
The Balearics have deposits of lignite and other coal, marble, lead, iron, and salt. Crops include grains, fruits, olives, almonds, hemp, and vegetables. Factories on Mallorca produce shoes, ceramics, and metalware. The mild, sunny climate attracts many tourists. Average annual temperature is 60° F. (16° C.); rainfall is 20 inches (510 mm), mainly in winter.
The people are mostly farmers. Almost all are Roman Catholic. The population in 1991 was 709,138. Palma, the capital, on Mallorca, is the only major city, with a population of 296,794.
The islands were ruled at various times by the Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and Moors. Under the Moors, who were expelled in 1232, pirates used the island ports. Ceded to England by the Peace of Utrecht (1713), the islands were given to Spain in 1803 by the Treaty of Amiens.