Formentera

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Formentera is the smaller and more southerly island of the Illes Pitiüses group (which includes Ibiza and Formentera), which belongs to the Balearic Islands autonomous community (Spain). It is 19 kilometres (12 mi) long and is located approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea. Its major villages are Sant Francesc Xavier, Sant Ferran de ses Roques, El Pilar de la Mola and La Savina.

The island was formerly reachable only by ship from Ibiza, making it the quieter of the two islands, but in recent years regular lines from the Spanish mainland have increased the amount of tourism. It is known for its many pristine beaches and the fact that nude sunbathing is allowed on most of its beaches.

North of Formentera is the small island of Espalmador (Illa de s'Empalmador). Espalmador is separated from Formentera by a shallow sandbar, and during low tide, it is possible for one to wade between the two islands. This area is a popular stopping point for those in yachts heading between Ibiza and Formentera.

Formentera comprises one municipality, also called Formentera, and has a population of 7,461 (2002). Its land area is 83.24 square kilometres (32.1 sq mi).

A local dialect of Catalan is spoken in Formentera. While the official languages are Catalan and Spanish, English, Italian, and German can also be heard extensively in the summer.

Contents

History

The island's name is usually said to derive from the Latin word frumentarium, meaning "granary". The island had been occupied by the Carthaginians before passing to the ancient Romans. In succeeding centuries, it passed to the Visigoths, the Byzantines, the Vandals, and the Arabs. In 1109 it was the target of a devastating attack by the Norwegian king Sigurd I at the head of the "Norwegian Crusade". The Island was conquered by the Catalans, added to the Crown of Aragon and later became part of the medieval Kingdom of Majorca.

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