The History of Ibiza
The prehistory of Ibiza
The island's first inhabitants must have arrived around 5,000 B.C. The oldest
traces, however, date from 2,000 B.C., and indicate that humans lived in caves
or habitats built with stones and covered with branches, seaweed and earth; their
society was well organized and hierarchized, and they fed themselves from their
very basic agriculture, farming and fishing, as well as the collection of fruit, eggs and molluscs.
Of all the remains found till now, the better preserved which can be visited is the megalithic burial ground of ca na Costa, in Formentera.
The Greeks visited Ibiza and Formentera in VIII B.C., and even though they did never establish themselves permanently they left us a very fitting name which still lasts today: Pitiusas, which means "pine tree islands".
Phoenicians and Carthaginians
When the Phoenicians from the South of the nearby Iberian Peninsula decided to broaden their horizons and establish new colonies and commercial enclaves along the Mediterranean, they founded the city of Ibsm, -present-day Eivissa-, in the year 654 B.C. When they disembarked in Eivissa, they found a mountain which hid a large natural port, easily defendable from their enemies, close to a fertile flatland with abundant water where they could produce enough food for their own consumption, and large salt plains where they could obtain the necessary salt for what would become a prosperous fish-salting industry.
It was the ideal place to found the new colony, which in honour of the god Bes, they called Ibsm.
This new enclave, which at first was nothing more than a port where they could stop over, with a small group of warehouses and military bases, soon developed its own industry which grew to make Ibsm one of the most populated and prosperous cities at the time, reaching a population of 4 to 5,000 inhabitants around IV B.C.
Politically, during the Punic time Ibsm enjoyed great autonomy from its metrópoli -Carthage-, even coining its own currency. Ibsm grew to be, after the decadence of Cartago due to the wars with Rome, the leading commercial city of the western Mediterranean.
The Roman Ebusus
Once Carthage was destroyed by the Roman forces, Eivissa became the Roman Ebusus until the 1st century of our era. At one time the Romans gave it great political autonomy. The Roman name was maintained for over five centuries.
Vandals and Byzantines
In the 5th century, following a Vandal attack on the Balearic islands, the Pitiusas were annexed to the North African Vandal Empire of Genserico. Vandal presence hardly left any trace on the islands.
In the year 534, the Pitiusas and the rest of the Balearics where occupied by the Byzantines.
The Arabs arrived on the Pitiusas islands at the beginning of the 7th century, but it was not until the year 902 that the emir Abdallah formally annexed Yebisah (Ibiza) to the Califato of Cordova.
The Arabs left a deep trace on the Pitiusas. They populated Eivissa, significantly improving its agriculture, water systems and culture.
The Catalan conquest
It took place on the 8th of August 1235, under the king of the Aragon Crown, Jaume I the Conqueror, encouraged by the elected archbishop of Tarragona, Guillem de Montgrí. In this way, the Pitiusas once again became a part of Christianity and the Occidental world.
The "Castilianization" of the island
Over the next five centuries, the relationship between Eivissa and Formentera and Catalonia was very close, but this ended in the XVII century, when Felipe V won the War of Succession to the Spanish Crown. From this moment on, the islands were incorporated into the Castilian system.
The arrival of mass tourism in the 60s
Until this recent decade, the islands hardly knew any relevant social nor economic changes. The arrival of this type of tourism and the opening of the airport of Eivissa in 1958 where two historical markers of great importance. The Eivissa we know today is a melting pot of nationalities that make up the new population of the island in this 21st century.
The present day population can be described as a melting-pot of cultures, including over eighty different nationalities of people from all over the world. The Pitiusas have always welcomed visitors who feel inspired by the islands peace and natural beauty.
What we now need is to continue building a harmonious community, which respects its natural environment and can work together towards a sustainable future.