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The Balearic Islands are an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. They form an autonomous community and a province of Spain, of which the capital city is Palma de Mallorca. The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan .

Mallorca (or Majorca) is the largest of the three and over the last three decades has become the archetypal sun-sea-and-sangria island beloved of package tourists from Northern Europe. Parts of it, particularly around the southern coastline are heavily built up with high-rise hotels and apartments.

Away from the coast however it is a different story, particularly in the beautiful unspoiled Tramuntana hills. Recently the whole island has been given something of a facelift. In package ghettoes like Magaluf old-style hotels have been, literally, blown up and replaced in a symbolic effort to rebrand the island. And the capital, Palma, is now one of Spain's most beguiling and trendiest small cities.

Ibiza has long been famous for its rave scene, concentrated in the charming hippy-chic capital of Ibiza Town, the high-rise canyons of San António and in the resort of Playa d'en Bossa. Away from here however, the island is remarkably rural.

A narrow channel separates Ibiza from Formentera, the smallest inhabited Balearic, fringed by soft white sands and only accessible by ferry. Although both Mallorca and Ibiza also have excellent beaches, Menorca is renowned for its picture-postcard coves. Tourist development on Menorca is largely low-key and the island attracts families and older holidaymakers.


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