Down through the centuries, Ibiza was enriched by many cultures. As it was a small island, with a farming population, Ibiza did not witness the destruction that war brings with it. Most civilisations left peacefully, when an enemy army arrived. Those that stayed, normally agreed favourable terms with the incumbent military power so bloodshed was avoided. Ibiza learned to become tolerant of over a dozen different cultures that sailed to the islands shores. The people that live there today, are all descendants of those cultures. This is why Ibiza welcomes everybody without prejudice, as it is used to many generations of strangers passing through her lands.
A recent study conducted on the local populations DNA, found that they were closely related to tribes from the North Coast of Africa. The Moors and Muslim Arabs brought great prosperity to Ibiza, farming the land for grapes, almonds and grains. They also built ships from the islands bountiful supply of pine and exported salt to Africa and the Mediterranean. The North of the island and the East Coast, were strongholds of The Moors. They founded Santa Eularia and many other ports along the east coast. Today, signs of their existence and influence can still be found in local design and names of areas 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 and they began to speak Eivissenc, the islands true local language – a blend of Arabic, Catalan, and Italian which is derived from the Greeks, who named the Balearics the Pitiuses, meaning, islands of Pine.
Catalan remains strong in Ibiza, but I can still feel that rich, warm, Arabic undercurrent, alongside the proud Catalan exterior. Add to that, a mix of individuality and entrepreneurship, that was the trademark of the exploring Phoenician culture that discovered Ibiza in 650BC, and you start to get a feel for Ibiza. Personally, I feel Ibiza belongs to nobody, its like a no mans land, a neutral oasis where everyone is welcome once they come in peace. 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 and refreshing individuals, enjoyable for their alternative outlook on life.