Written by Dan Kirwan

Down through the centuries, Ibiza has adopted many different cultures. As it was a small island, with a native farming population, it did not witness the destruction that conquering armies can rain down on resistant incumbents. Those that remained, normally agreed on favourable terms of surrender, so bloodshed and destruction were avoided. Ibiza adapted to the transfer of power from one invading force to the next and learnt how to survive. 

The native population that live there today, are all descendants of those cultures. This is one reason why Ibiza welcomes everybody without prejudice, it’s the island’s default setting. Ibiza is a land of passage and this fact was highlighted in a recent study that found just 40% of the islands resident 159,000 population were born there.

Similar DNA research a few years ago found that the native population were closely related to tribes from the North Coast of Africa. The Moors and Arabs brought much prosperity to Ibiza, farming the land for grapes, almonds and grains. They also built ships from the bountiful supply of pine and exported Salinas salt, to Africa and the Mediterranean. The North of the island and the East Coast were strongholds of The Moors who founded Santa Eularia and many other ports along the east coast.

Today, signs of their existence and influence can still be found in local architecture and names of townlands like Benirras, Benimussa, Balafia, and on the doors of old farms, where the Hand of Fatima wards off the evil eye. Catalans from Tarragona arrived after the Moors in 1235 and their Italian related dialect was adopted inro Eivissenc, Ibiza’s indigenous language – a blend of Arabic, Catalan, and Italian which is derived from the Greeks, who named the Balearics the Pitiuses, meaning, islands of Pine.

Personally, I feel Ibiza possesses an insular power all to itself,

Catalan remains the official language of Ibiza, but I can still feel that rich, warm, Arabic undercurrent, alongside its multicultural exterior. Add to that, a mix of individuality and entrepreneurship, which was the trademark of the exploring Phoenician culture that discovered Ibiza in 650BC, and you start to get a feel for the island’s identity.

Personally, I feel Ibiza possesses an insular power all to itself, a neutral oasis where one is welcome once you can contribute in some way. It is a refuge for people that don’t fit into conventional pegs. Not everybody connects with Ibiza, but those that do, are invariably interesting, independent and dynamic individuals, known for their uncomplicated outlook on life.

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