It isnīt easy to talk about the history of Formentera because
a complete written history doesnīt exist. Formentera was practically uninhabited
during two long periods when human presence was very reduced or inexistent.
The first period was before the Roman conquest and corresponds to the Carthaginian
period in Ibiza; the second period lasted from the beginning of the fifteenth
century until the beginning of the eighteenth century when the repopulation
began . The foundation of Ibiza as a Carthaginian
city-factory dates from the year 654 B.C. The Carthaginian domination lasted
until 123 B.C. when Ibiza became federated with Rome.
Due to the fact that the Roman conquest was not a destructive one, the Carthaginian
culture contined until approximately 200 A.D. In Ibiza
there exist numerous Carthaginian remains while in Formentera very few exist.
The following period was the Arabic domination which lasted from the end of
the tenth century until the thirteenth century.
During this period pirates continued to pillage the island. One of the most well-known episodes was the plundering of the "des Fum" cave in the year 1118 when three viking boats under the command of Prince Sigurd of Norway attacked and plundered the cave, killing the defenders and taking all the treasures that were guarded there The Reconquest of Ibiza and Formentera occurred in 1235 during the reign of James I. The archbishop William of Montgri was in charge of the expedition. This Catalan presence in Formentera lasted until the fifteenth century when the depopulation occurred.
The Romanic chapel called "Sa Tanca Vella" dates from this period The theories about the motives for the depopulation in the fifteenth century speculate that it could have been caused by the serious social and economical crisis that affected Catalonia in the middle of the fourteenth century and also by the increase of piracy in the Mediterranean. From this time until the beginning of the eighteenth century, Formentera was uninhabited, although there were watchmen in lookout positions to protect Ibiza from any attack by sea.
In 1695 there was an official decree to begin the process of repopulation. The Crown donated part of the island to two men from Ibiza, Marc Ferrer and Toni Blanc. There had been earlier attempts in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries to repopulate the island, but no one wanted to live there due to the insecurity of the island. But this time there were more favorable circumstances: the piracy diminished considerably and consequently, the insecurity, and the combined result favored the process of repopulation of Formentera, which lasted until the eighteenth century.
There are five watchtowers for defense which have remained since this period We can consider Marc Ferrer as the "founding father" of the actual people of Formentera. The first stable settlement was founded in 1726 in Sant Francesc and the modern history of the island began from that date. The most important archaeological site in Formentera is, without a doubt, the megalithic monument located in Ca Na Costa that dates from between 2,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C
In Formentera the people of the countryside strive to maintain their habitual life-style and customs. This is especially evident in their holiday celebrations. The most important festivity is that of their patron saint, Sant Jaume, which is celebrated on the 25th of July. Next in importance is that of Santa Maria on the 5th of August which has recently become very popular. Following these is the festivity of Carmen the Virgin, patron saint of the mariners, which is celebrated in La Savina and in Es Pujols on the 16th of July. Also important are the festivities of the patron saint of each town: San Ferran on the 30th of May, Nuestra Seņora del Pilar in the Mola on the 12th of October, and Sant Francesc Xavier on the 3rd of December.
With regard to the climate, Formentera is characterized by dry weather and high temperatures during the summer season. Due to its reduced area and flatness, the climate of Formentera is very similar in all parts of the island.