Gymnesian Islands

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Gymnesian Islands (in dark grey)

The Gymnesians (Catalan: Illes Gimnèsies [ʒimˈnɛziəs], Spanish: Gimnesias [ximˈnesjas]), or Gymnesic Islands (Catalan: Illes Gimnèsiques),[1] is a collective name given to the two largest (and easternmost) Balearic islands, Majorca and Menorca, distinguishing them from the Pityuses (Catalan: Illes Pitiüses; Spanish: Pitiusas), or Pine Islands, Ibiza and Formentera.


The word Gymnesian (from the Greek γυμνήτες gymnetes) means "naked". The Ancient Greeks recruited the local inhabitants of these islands, the Talaiotics, as slingers. According to some researchers, this does not mean that they fought naked, but that they used much lighter armament than the hoplites.

Name usage[edit]

Later the Phoenicians referred to both Majorca and Menorca as the Baliarides. After the whole archipelago (the Pityuses and Gymnesians) came under Roman rule, the islands gained the overall Latin name Insulae Baliares or Baleares Insulae; the collective concept has continued in use in modern languages, hence ultimately the English name "Balearic Islands".


  • Strabo Geography Book III, Chapter 2
  • Belenguer, E. Història de les illes Balears. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 2004. 525 p. ISBN 84-297-5506-3 (volume I)

Coordinates: 39°48′46″N 3°34′34″E / 39.81276°N 3.57605°E / 39.81276; 3.57605