Discover the Balearic Islands: Population


Balearic identity and wealth of languages

The question of Balearic identity is a subject rich in debate, in the same way as in Catalonia or the Basque Country. It is in fact strongly linked to language. Since the Balearic Islands formed an autonomous community, Catalan has been the official language of the archipelago. Accompanied by Castilian (Spanish), it is, in fact, a co-officiality, according to the terms used in the legal texts. The majority of islanders claim to understand Catalan, but around 30% of them do not speak it. In reality, the use of Catalan is limited to political institutions. Education in public schools is supposed to be provided in both languages ​​from nursery school, which would promote professional integration in Catalonia, or a continuation of university studies on the continent. But once again, the reality differs: in schools, Castilian is the majority in the classroom, and the local dialects (mallorqui in Majorca, ibicenco in Ibiza) are mainly spoken in the playground. The latter have even become symbols of nationalism for older people.

This official model was nevertheless threatened from 2013 by the reform of the educational system of the government of José Ramón Bauzá (PP), which proposes a trilingual Catalan-Castilian-English system, by reducing the hours of Catalan in favor of English . Despite its cancellation by the Supreme Court in 2014, this reform has been the subject of much debate. Currently, with the Socialist Party in government since June 2015, things have calmed down and the two languages ​​should find a balance within schools. As a result of highly developed tourism, certain foreign languages ​​(English, German, Italian and French) are spoken quite fluently in certain areas of Majorca and Ibiza. In Minorca, however, Catalan remains the most widely spoken language, as in Formentera, where it remains a linguistic pillar since 73% of the population can speak it and almost 90% understand it. If these last two islands retain a traditional identity cradled by centuries-old habits and customs, the population has nevertheless changed significantly in recent years. Formentera, for example, is nowadays very cosmopolitan and has nearly 4,000 foreign residents, more than a third of the island's total population.

It must be said that the Balearic Islands also welcome a good number of emigrants, working on all the islands. In 2009, the Balearic Islands were listed as the autonomous community of Spain hosting the largest percentage of foreigners, with more than 20% immigrants. In other words, 1 in 5 people are foreign to the Balearic Islands. Majorcans distinguish between locals and foresters (foreigners): this adjective designates the Spanish families originating from the peninsula. Strangely, tourists are better accepted than Spanish immigrants: a Madrilenian, even settled in the Balearic Islands for more than ten years, will always remain a foraster. Among the main nationalities represented in the archipelago, Germany comes first, followed by Ecuador, Morocco and Argentina. Since 2010, the Balearic Islands have recorded a sharp drop in immigration, a direct consequence of the crisis. A trend that reversed in 2017 with a 33% increase in the number of foreign immigrants.

Brief history of the hippie movement in Ibiza and Formentera

If Ibiza gained international fame with the arrival in large numbers of hippies in the 1960s, the island had already enjoyed a reputation since the 1930s as a sanctuary for the gentle life. Indeed, many avant-garde European intellectuals and artists, forced to flee authoritarian regimes (the Spanish Civil War in particular), found refuge on the White Island. After the Second World War, the world is gradually being rebuilt and creativity and freedom are values ​​that are gaining in importance, so much so that many artists already customary on the island begin to flock again, soon joined by young Europeans and Americans, followers of the nascent hippie movement. For these souls in love with freedom and peace, with a healthy relationship with nature, Ibiza – but also its little neighbor Formentera – offers all the ingredients for happiness, so much so that hippie communities quickly form from the beginning of the 1960s, mainly in the rural areas of the center of the island.

While San Francisco is considered the birthplace of the movement, London and Amsterdam, due to their cosmopolitan and bohemian atmosphere, are also important centers of this emerging culture. Considered suitable for the practice of meditation, Nepal and India are also top destinations. What Ibiza will offer hippies is a direct and simple contact with nature, a mild climate, but also a territory still untouched by mass tourism. The inhabitants of the island receive this new population with curiosity and benevolence, naming them the "peluts" ("hairy" in Catalan), because of their shaggy hair, and the coexistence is rather good. During this golden age of hippies in Ibiza (1965-1975), thinkers, artists, idealists and gentle dreamers returning to the land helped to popularize the island and soon tourism began to gain ground, diluting little to this authentic hippie spirit of the first hour...

We can all the same today still approach a little of what was this time going to the Sunday market of Sant Joan, whose stalls of craftsmen remain perhaps the most authentic of the island. The small cove of Atlantis or that of Punta Galera are also spots that still retain a touch of psychedelic magic from the 1960s. season, at dusk. In 2016, a bronze sculpture representing a hippie and his child (inspired by a famous photograph of the time) was inaugurated in the Marina of Eivissa, in homage to this fundamental episode in the history and culture of 'Ibiza.

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