EU2019 Award

Geography of Mallorca (Part 1)

At 3,640 square kilometers, Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, which also includes Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera as well as smaller islands such as Cabrera and Dragonera. This famous archipelago lies off the east coast of Spain, to which they belong. Geographically, Mallorca has a latitude of 39.710358 and a longitude of 2.995148. Approximately 130 miles south of Barcelona and 150 miles east of Valencia, the island is approximately 100 km wide from west to east and 75 km long from north to south.

It is estimated that the Balearic Islands were formed around 150 million years ago. Mallorca was initially connected to the Spanish peninsula as an underwater island before it took on its current shape. For a Mediterranean island, Mallorca is unusually fertile and green. It has an astonishing variety of natural landscapes, from the towering mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana in the west to the beautiful agricultural plains in its fertile center. However, the island is best known for its golden sandy beaches and shallow turquoise waters along the coast, making it a popular holiday destination in the summer months.

Mallorca’s population was 859,289 in 2015 and continues to grow rapidly. More than 50% of Mallorca’s residents live in the capital, Palma, the business center that is bustling with life all year round. The island has a large number of expats from all over the world, with a high concentration of Europeans, South Americans and Africans residing here.

Fauna and Wildlife

The vegetation on Mallorca is home to surprisingly few land animals. The smallest include field mice, rats, rabbits and wood shrews, while the largest are civets and a rare wild goat. The island is home to over 300 endemic animal species, the most famous being the lizards that populate Dragonera Island.

Birds, on the other hand, have always been plentiful. Although their habitat is constantly threatened, the number of bird species is well over 2,000 if you include native and migratory bird species. Bird watching is particularly common in the north of the island and people come here to look for Audouin’s Gull, Black Vulture, Balearic Warbler, Thecla Lark, Blue Rock Thrush, Spectacled Warbler, Wryneck and Purple Gallinule.

Flora and Vegetation

The Mediterranean flora dominates Mallorca. Scrub forests of pine, buckthorn, rosemary, wild olive, lentiscus and dwarf fan palms have been the island’s main vegetation for centuries. Holm oaks also thrive in rainy areas in the mountains. About 1,500 flowering plants have been counted on the island, including cistus, lavender and orchids. On the coast, in the sand dunes, there are Ammophila grasses. Unfortunately, only the jaw is not in decline, and this is due to human intervention.

When it comes to agriculture, the flat plains in the middle of the island are where most farms are located. While the steepness of some of Mallorca’s slopes makes the land difficult to cultivate, some have been terraced, allowing the cultivation of olive trees and grape vines. These are two of Mallorca’s most important agricultural crops, along with citrus fruits (especially oranges around the city of Sóller), almonds, cereals and some vegetables.

The island’s coastline is also home to large underwater meadows of Posidonia oceanica algae. This endemic species of algae is now protected because it is vital to the Mediterranean ecosystem and prevents erosion.


Much of Mallorca is made of limestone. This type of rock dissolves in water over time, creating canyons and the many cave systems found in the foothills of mountain regions. The fact that the limestone forms natural holds is the main reason why the island is very popular with rock climbers, especially for water soloing on cliffs. The same rock means there are very few lakes in Mallorca as the water seeps away and forms underground water systems. These basins provide the population with water. The low rainfall on the island means that the water table is easily challenged and this is a limiting factor when considering further population development.

Landscape & Scenery

Mallorca can be divided into three main areas.

The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range stretches for around 90 km along the west coast. They cover 1,067 square kilometers and make up almost a third of the island. The highest peak is Puig Major at 1,445 meters. These mountains are a continuation of the Betic mountain range on mainland Spain. They become steeper the further north you go, and all along the coast there are cliffs that drop dramatically into the sea. There are a few roads that run through the mountains, but one of the best ways to enjoy the scenery is from the sea on a boat. The other option is of course to put on your hiking boots and explore the many hiking trails that lead from village to village. A large part of the area is protected and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

In the northeast lies a smaller mountain range, the Llevant. Here you will find much lower altitudes (around 500 meters) but an equally beautiful and rugged landscape. These hills extend southward and become lower and lower.

The rest of the island is called Es Pla and has a fairly flat, fertile plain. This is where most of the farming takes place as the flat land is ideal for farming. Inland you will find lush pine forests, olive, almond, orange and lemon groves and a good selection of vineyards.

Mallorca is rightly known for its beautiful beaches. With its crystal clear, turquoise waters and fine, golden sand, it lays claim to having some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.