Menorca (or Minorca) is the most easterly of the Balearic islands. The capital of Menorca is Mahon, a town known since antiquity for its natural harbor. The northern part of the island is very hilly as a result of numerous foldings and fracturing of the terrain; its coastline is very jagged and includes natural coves of great beauty.
In contrast, the southern area features a gentle and undulating scenery with deep ravines, and a more gentle coastline with rocky cliffs and long beaches. Inland, Monte Toro with 1,174 feet is the highest point on the island.
Menorca is a veritable open-air museum with archaeological remains giving evidence of Mediterranean cultures of more than three thousand years ago. Taulas, talyots and prehistorical settlements, among others, make up this invaluable heritage. Romans and Moors took turns in occupying Menorca. In 1287 Alfonso III of Aragon started the Reconquest which ended the Moorish occupation. As a result of the Spanish War of Succession, Menorca passed to the English Crown. Together with Gibraltar it was England's reward for accepting the Bourbon Felip V as king. English rule lasted for nearly a century. Many traces of this period remain, particularly in the design of the tall houses with their sash windows overlooking the harbor.
The population of Menorca numbers close to 70,000. Agriculture is heavily featured with pastures for cattle, which provide the mainstay of the island's dairy industry. A small sector is engaged in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. The most important source of income is tourism, followed by dairy products, footwear and costume jewelry.
Watersports are the most popular of the wide range of leisure pursuits available in Menorca. Sail boat rentals are available at numerous beaches and a golf course is located in Son Park. Despite a noticeable increase in tourism in recent years, the island has managed to remain relatively unspoiled, especially when compared to its sister island Mallorca. In fact, Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. This declaration is an acknowledgement of the island's environmental importance as well as its artistic and cultural heritage which rightly deserves the attention and efforts being made to conserve this heritage and make it compatible with constant development and improvement in the quality of life.