The Balearic Islands, an autonomous division of Spain, are one of the most popular holiday destinations in all of Europe. The well-known island of Mallorca is the largest in the group. There is little history on the earliest inhabitants of the islands, though many legends exist. In modern times, these stunning rocks in the Mediterranean Sea are tourism magnets.
The islands became a popular point for pirates in 902, and a shift of power in the Iberian peninsula rendered the islands vulnerable. A crusade, led by Ugo da Parlascio Ebriaco, attacked the city of Palma in 1115, successfully ending the island's reign as a great sea power.
Tourists began to arrive from around the world in the 1950's, attracted by the excellent climate, sandy beaches and natural beauty. In fact, in 2010 nearly 26 million people passed through Palma's Son Sant Joan airport, with an additional 2.5 million coming by cruise ship.