Majorca (məjôrˈkə) [key], Span. Mallorca mälyôrˈkä, island (1991 pop. 602,074), 1,405 sq mi (3,639 sq km), Spain, largest of the Balearic Islands, in the W Mediterranean. Palma is the chief city. Majorca is mountainous in the northwest, rising to 4,739 ft (1,444 m) in the Puig Major; the south and east form a gently rolling, fertile region. Its mild climate and beautiful scenery have long made Majorca a popular resort; tourism is its major industry. Cereals, flax, grapes, and olives are grown, a light wine is produced, hogs and sheep are raised, and lead, marble, and copper are mined. For the history of Majorca before 1276, see Balearic Islands. In 1276 the kingdom of Majorca was formed from the inheritance of James I of Majorca. It comprised the Balearic Islands, Roussillon and Cerdagne (between France and Spain), and several fiefs in S France. Perpignan, in Roussillon, was the capital. In 1343, Peter IV of Aragón took the kingdom from James II and reunited it with the crown of Aragón. The island's flourishing commerce declined, partly because of the warfare between the native peasantry and the Aragonese nobles and Catalan traders, but mainly because of the change in trade routes after the discovery of America. Majorca is known for its stalagmite caves and for its architectural treasures and prehistoric monuments. The abandoned old monastery where Chopin and George Sand lived is an island landmark. The inhabitants speak their own dialect of Catalan.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.