Of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia belong to Italy, Corsica belongs to France, Crete belongs to Greece, and Cyprus is independent. Only the Balearic Islands belong to Spain.
The Balearics consist of four large islands and a number of smaller islets, lying about 120 miles off the Spanish coast. The total area of the islands is about equal to that of Delaware. The biggest island is Majorca, whose name came from a Latin word meaning “bigger,” while the name of another island, Minorca, came from the Latin word for “smaller.” The other two large islands are called Ibiza and Formentera.
According to ancient legend, these islands were once inhabited by a strange, savage race. Another legend tells that the Greek hero Hercules journeyed to the Balearic Islands, where he found the golden apples he was searching for.
The Romans gained control of the Balearics in the second century B.C. The islands formed an independent kingdom for a time before coming under Spanish control in the fourteenth century.