Population of Menorca
Menorca has a population of approx 94,000 with around 6,800 ex-pats – mostly British. Also, over one million tourists visit Menorca every year and that figure is growing as more people recognise its unspoilt beauty and historic charm, not just during the summer season but also increasingly all year round. The island is divided into 8 municipalities – Mao, the administrative capital, Ciutadella, the former capital, Alaior, Ferreries, Es Mercadel, Es Castell, Sant Lluis and Es Migjorn Gran (which is the newest and smallest region).
Official Language of Menorca
Banned under Franco’s government until 1975, Catalan, not Spanish (Castillian), is the official language of Menorca. The island also has its own dialect, Menorquin, which differs from the Catalan spoken in other Balearic Islands in some vowel sounds and grammar. And, as a result of English and French occupation, certain words strongly resemble their French or English origins. All three languages are taught in schools.
Maó or Mahón…?
Obvious to those who know, but for first time visitors signs for the capital ‘Maó’ can be confusing when arriving at ‘Mahon’ Airport. Maó is the official Catalan name for the capital, approved by local, regional and national government, while Mahón is its Spanish (Castillian) name. In fact, all towns have both a Catalan and Castillian name, all signposts being in Catalan.
However, there is some debate about the correct spelling of the city’s name in English. Due to the general tendency in English to ignore accent marks in foreign words, most UK guides refer to the city by an adaptation (Mahon) of its Spanish (Castillian) language name (Mahón), while other sources prefer the Catalan spelling (Maó) in English-language publications and websites. Many ex-pats still refer to the capital as Mahon as apart from familiarity, it’s easier to say…!
Regardless of bureaucracy or preference, there are some instances where Mahon is the official name, such as Mahón Airport and the traditional cheese, Queso Mahón-Menorca.
Traditional Industries of Menorca
Menorca is renowned for its fashion jewellery and today this is one of the island’s main industries. The manufacture of leather footwear is also an important commercial activity. Ladies shoes made on Mencorca are known around the world for their high quality and stylish design, together with the traditional, handcrafted ‘avarca’ – an ancient and simple sandal. Pottery, hand painted fabrics and furniture restoration are some of the other crafts for which Menorca is famous. Cheese production is a buoyant industry and Menorca received the coveted DOP (denomination of origin) status in 1985 for its famous Mahon-Menorca cheese made at farms all over the island. There is also a gin factory – a legacy from the British occupation and the ancient tradition of wine production has recently been revitalised, bringing to life an old trade with renewed enthusiasm. Today, of course tourism, has now become the most important industry for the islanders.