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Minorca

MINORCA (Menorca), the second in size of the group of Spanish islands in the Mediterranean Sea, known as the Balearic Islands (q.v.), 27 m. E.N.E. of Majorca. Pop. (1900), 371,512; area, 260 sq. m. The coast is deeply indented, especially on the north, with numerous creeks and bays that of Port Mahon (17,144) being one of the finest in the Mediterranean, if not the best of them all, according to the popular rhyme " Junio, Julio, Agosto y puerto Mahon Los mejores puertos del Mediterraneo son " " June, July, August and Port Mahon are the best harbours of the Mediterranean " (see PORT MAHON). The ports Addaya, Fornelle, Ciudadela and Nitja may also be mentioned. The surface of the island is uneven, flat in the south and rising irregularly towards the centre, where the mountain El Tore probably so called from the Arabic tor, a height, though the natives have a legend of a toro or bull has an altitude of 1 207 ft. The climate is not so equable as that of Majorca, and the island is exposed in autumn and winter to the violence of the north winds. Its soil is of very unequal quality; that of the higher districts being light, fine, and fertile, and producing regular harvests without much labour, while that of the plains is chalky, scanty, and unfit for pasture or the plough. Some of the valleys have a good alluvial soil; and where the hills have been terraced they are cultivated to the summit. The wheat and barley raised in the island are sometimes sufficient for home consumption; there is rarely a surplus. The Hedysarum coronarium, or zulla, as it is called by the Spaniards, is largely cultivated for fodder. Wine, oil, potatoes, hemp and flax are produced in moderate quantities; fruit of all kinds, including melons, pomegranates, figs and almonds, is abundant. The caper plant is common throughout the island, growing on ruined walls. Horned cattle, sheep and goats are reared, and small game abound. Stone of various kinds is plentiful. In the district of Mercadal and in Mount Santa Agueda are found fine marbles and porphyries; lime and slate are also abundant. Lead, copper and iron might be worked were it not for the scarcity of fuel. There are manufactures of the wool, hemp and flax of the island; and formerly there was a good deal of boat-building; but agriculture is the chief industry. An excellent road, constructed in 1713-1715 by BrigadierGeneral Richard Kane, to whose memory a monument was erected at the first milestone, runs through the island from south-east to north-west, and connects Port Mahon with Ciudadela. Ciudadela (8611), which was the capital of the island till Port Mahon was raised to that position by the English, still possesses considerable remains of its former importance.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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