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Catalonia | Wikipedia audio article

Catalonia | Wikipedia audio article

Catalonia (; Catalan: Catalunya [kətəˈluɲə];
Aranese: Catalonha [kataˈluɲɔ]; Spanish: Cataluña [kataˈluɲa]) is an autonomous
community on the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a nationality by its Statute
of Autonomy Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in
Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises
most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia (with the remainder Roussillon
now part of France’s Pyrénées-Orientales, Occitanie). It is bordered by France (Occitanie)
and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous
communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan,
Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.In the late 8th century, the counties of the
March of Gothia and the Hispanic March were established by the Frankish kingdom as feudal
vassals across and near the eastern Pyrenees as a defensive barrier against Muslim invasions.
The eastern counties of these marches were united under the rule of the Frankish vassal,
the count of Barcelona, and were later called Catalonia. In the 10th century the County
of Barcelona became independent de facto. In 1137, Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon
were united by marriage under the Crown of Aragon. The de jure end of Frankish rule was
ratified by French and Aragonese monarchs in the Treaty of Corbeil in 1258. The Principality
of Catalonia developed its own institutional system, such as courts (parliament), and constitutions,
becoming the base for the Crown of Aragon’s naval power, trade and expansionism in the
Mediterranean. In the later Middle Ages, Catalan literature flourished. During the last Medieval
centuries natural disasters, social turmoils and military conflicts affected the Principality.
Between 1469 and 1516, the king of Aragon and the queen of Castile married and ruled
their realms together, retaining all of their distinct institutions and legislation.
During the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659), Catalonia revolted (1640–1652) against a
large and burdensome presence of the royal army in its territory, being briefly proclaimed
a republic under French protection. Within a brief period France took full control of
Catalonia, until it was largely reconquered by the Spanish army. Under the terms of the
Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the Spanish Crown ceded the northern parts of Catalonia,
mostly the County of Roussillon, to France. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714),
the Crown of Aragon sided against the Bourbon Philip V of Spain; following Catalan defeat
on 11 September 1714, Philip V, inspired by the model of France imposed a unifying administration
across Spain, enacting the Nueva Planta decrees, suppressing the main Catalan institutions
and rights like in the other realms of the Crown of Aragon. This led to the eclipse of
Catalan as a language of government and literature, replaced by Spanish. Along the 18th century,
Catalonia experienced economic growth, reinforced in the late quarter of the century when the
Castile’s trade monopoly with American colonies ended.
In the 19th century, Catalonia was severely affected by the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars.
In the second third of the century, Catalonia experienced significant industrialisation.
As wealth from the industrial expansion grew, Catalonia saw a cultural renaissance coupled
with incipient nationalism while several workers movements appeared. In 1914, the four Catalan
provinces formed a commonwealth, and with the return of democracy during the Second
Spanish Republic (1931–1939), the Generalitat of Catalonia was restored as an autonomous
government. After the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist dictatorship enacted repressive
measures, abolishing Catalan self-government and banning the official use of the Catalan
language again. After a first period of autarky, from the late 1950s through to the 1970s Catalonia
saw rapid economic growth, drawing many workers from across Spain, making Barcelona one of
Europe’s largest industrial metropolitan areas and turning Catalonia into a major tourist
destination. Since the Spanish transition to democracy (1975–1982), Catalonia has
regained considerable autonomy in political, educational, environmental, and cultural affairs
and is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. In the 2010s there has
been growing support for Catalan independence. On 27 October 2017, the Catalan Parliament
declared independence from Spain following a disputed referendum. The Spanish Senate
voted in favour of enforcing direct rule by removing the entire Catalan government and
calling a snap regional election for 21 December. On 2 November of the same year, the Spanish
Supreme Court imprisoned seven former ministers of the Catalan government on charges of rebellion
and misuse of public funds, while several others—including then-President of Catalonia,
Carles Puigdemont—fled to other European countries (such as Belgium, in Puidgemont’s
case).==Etymology and pronunciation==
The name Catalonia—Catalunya in Catalan, spelled Cathalonia, or Cathalaunia in Medieval
Latin—began to be used for the homeland of the Catalans (Cathalanenses) in the late
11th century and was probably used before as a territorial reference to the group of
counties that comprised part of the March of Gothia and March of Hispania under the
control of the Count of Barcelona and his relatives. The origin of the name Catalunya
is subject to diverse interpretations because of a lack of evidence.
One theory suggests that Catalunya derives from the name Gothia (or Gauthia) Launia (“Land
of the Goths”), since the origins of the Catalan counts, lords and people were found in the
March of Gothia, known as Gothia, whence Gothland>Gothlandia>Gothalania>Cathalaunia>Catalonia
theoretically derived. During the Middle Ages, Byzantine chroniclers claimed that Catalania
derives from the local medley of Goths with Alans, initially constituting a Goth-Alania.Other
less plausible or recent theories suggest: Catalunya derives from the term “land of castles”,
having evolved from the term castlà or castlan, the medieval term for a castellan (a ruler
of a castle). This theory therefore suggests that the names Catalunya and Castile have
a common root. The source is of Celtic origin, meaning “chiefs
of battle”. Although the area is not known to have been occupied by the Celtiberians,
a Celtic culture was present within the interior of the Iberian Peninsula in pre-Roman times.
The Lacetani, an Iberian tribe that lived in the area and whose name, due to the Roman
influence, could have evolved by metathesis to Katelans and then Catalans.
Miguel Vidal, finding serious shortcomings with earlier proposals (such as that an original
-t- would have, by normal sound laws in the local Romance languages, developed into -d-),
suggested an Arabic etymology: qattāl (قتالو, pl. qattālūn قتالون) – meaning “killer”
– could have been applied by Muslims to groups of raiders and bandits on the southern
border of the Marca Hispanica. The name, originally derogatory, could have been reappropiated
by Christians as an autonym. This is comparable to attested development of the term Almogavar
in nearby areas. In this model, the name Catalunya derives from the plural qattālūn while the
adjective and language name català derives from the singular qattāl, both with the addition
of common Romance suffixes.In English, Catalonia is pronounced . The native name, Catalunya,
is pronounced [kətəˈluɲə] in Central Catalan, the most widely spoken variety, whose
pronunciation is considered standard. The Spanish name is Cataluña ([kataˈluɲa]),
and the Aranese name is Catalonha ([kataˈluɲɔ]).==History=====
Prehistory===The first known human settlements in what
is now Catalonia were at the beginning of the Middle Paleolithic. The oldest known trace
of human occupation is a mandible found in Banyoles, described by some sources as pre-Neanderthal
some 200,000 years old; other sources suggest it to be only about one third that old. From
the next prehistoric era, the Epipalaeolithic or Mesolithic, important remains survive,
the greater part dated between 8000 and 5000 BCE, such as those of Sant Gregori (Falset)
and el Filador (Margalef de Montsant). The most important sites from these eras, all
excavated in the region of Moianès, are the Balma del Gai (Epipaleolithic) and the Balma
de l’Espluga (late Epipaleolithic and Early Neolithic).The Neolithic era began in Catalonia
around 5000 BCE, although the population was slower to develop fixed settlements than in
other places, thanks to the abundance of woods, which allowed the continuation of a fundamentally
hunter-gatherer culture. An example of such settlements would be La Draga, an “early Neolithic
village which dates from the end of the 6th millennium BC.”The Chalcolithic period developed
in Catalonia between 2500 and 1800 BCE, with the beginning of the construction of copper
objects. The Bronze Age occurred between 1800 and 700 BCE. There are few remnants of this
era, but there were some known settlements in the low Segre zone. The Bronze Age coincided
with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans through the Urnfield Culture, whose successive waves
of migration began around 1200 BC, and they were responsible for the creation of the first
proto-urban settlements. Around the middle of the 7th century BC, the Iron Age arrived
in Catalonia.===Pre-Roman and Roman period===In pre-Roman times, the area that is now called
Catalonia in the north-east of Iberian Peninsula – like the rest of the Mediterranean side
of the peninsula – was populated by the Iberians. The Iberians of this area – the
Ilergetes, Indigetes and Lacetani (Cerretains) – also maintained relations with the peoples
of the Mediterranean. Some urban agglomerations became relevant, including Ilerda (Lleida)
inland, Hibera (perhaps Amposta or Tortosa) or Indika (Ullastret). Coastal trading colonies
were established by the ancient Greeks, who settled around the Gulf of Roses, in Emporion
(Empúries) and Roses in the 8th century BC. The Carthaginians briefly ruled the territory
in the course of the Second Punic War and traded with the surrounding Iberian population.
After the Carthaginian defeat by the Roman Republic, the north-east of Iberia became
the first to come under Roman rule and became part of Hispania, the westernmost part of
the Roman Empire. Tarraco (modern Tarragona) was one of the most important Roman cities
in Hispania and the capital of the province of Tarraconensis. Other important cities of
the Roman period are Ilerda (Lleida), Dertosa (Tortosa), Gerunda (Girona) as well as the
ports of Empuriæ (former Emporion) and Barcino (Barcelona). As for the rest of Hispania,
Latin law was granted to all cities under the reign of Vespasian (69-79 AD), while Roman
citizenship was granted to all free men of the empire by the Edict of Caracalla in 212
AD (Tarraco, the capital, was already a colony of Roman law since 45 BC). It was a rich agricultural
province (olive oil, vine, wheat), and the first centuries of the Empire saw the construction
of roads (the most important being the Via Augusta, parallel to Mediterranean coastline)
and infrastructure like aqueducts. Conversion to Christianity, attested in the
3rd century, was completed in urban areas in the 4th century. Although Hispania remained
under Roman rule and did not fall under the rule of Vandals, Swabians and Alans in the
5th century, the main cities suffered frequent sacking and some deurbanization.===Middle Ages===After the fall of the Western Roman Empire,
the area was conquered by the Visigoths and was ruled as part of the Visigothic Kingdom
for almost two and a half centuries. In 718, it came under Muslim control and became part
of Al-Andalus, a province of the Umayyad Caliphate. From the conquest of Roussillon in 760, to
the conquest of Barcelona in 801, the Frankish empire took control of the area between Septimania
and the Llobregat river from the Muslims and created heavily militarised, self-governing
counties. These counties formed part of the Gothic and Hispanic marches, a buffer zone
in the south of the Frankish empire in the former province of Septimania and in the northeast
of the Iberian Peninsula, to act as a defensive barrier for the Frankish empire against further
Muslim invasions from Al-Andalus. These counties came under the rule of the
counts of Barcelona, who were Frankish vassals nominated by the emperor of the Franks, to
whom they were feudatories (801–987). The earliest known use of the name “Catalonia”
for these counties dates to 1117. During the 9th century, the Count Wifred the Hairy made
its title hereditary and founded the dynasty of the House of Barcelona, which ruled Catalonia
until 1410. In 987 Borrell II, Count of Barcelona, did
not recognise Hugh Capet as his king, making his successors (from Ramon Borrell I to Ramon
Berenguer IV) de facto independent of the Capetian crown whom they regarded as usurpers
of the Carolingian Frankish realm. At the start of eleventh century the Catalan Counties
suffer an important process of feudalisation, partially controlled by the Peace and Truce
Assemblies and by the power and negotiation skills of the Counts of Barcelona like Ramon
Berenguer I. In 1137, Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona decided to accept King
Ramiro II of Aragon’s proposal to marry Queen Petronila, establishing the dynastic union
of the County of Barcelona with the Kingdom of Aragon, joining the Crown of Aragon and
making the Catalan counties that were united under the county of Barcelona into a principality
of the Aragonese Crown. In 1258, by means of the Treaty of Corbeil,
the Count of Barcelona and King of Aragon, of Mallorca and of Valencia, James I of Aragon
renounced his family rights and dominions in Occitania and recognised the king of France
as heir of the Carolingian Dynasty. The king of France formally relinquished his nominal
feudal lordship over all the Catalan counties, except the County of Foix, despite the opposition
of the king of Aragon and count of Barcelona. This treaty transformed the principality’s
de facto union with Aragon into a de jure one and was the origin of the definitive separation
between the geographical areas of Catalonia and Languedoc.
As a coastal territory, Catalonia became the base of the Aragonese Crown’s maritime forces,
which spread the power of the Aragonese Crown in the Mediterranean, and made Barcelona into
a powerful and wealthy city. In the period of 1164–1410, new territories, the Kingdom
of Valencia, the Kingdom of Majorca, Sardinia, the Kingdom of Sicily, Corsica, and (briefly)
the Duchies of Athens and Neopatras, were incorporated into the dynastic domains of
the House of Aragon. At the same time, the Principality of Catalonia
developed a complex institutional and political system based in the concept of a pact between
the estates of the realm and the king. Laws had to be approved in the General Court of
Catalonia, one of the first parliamentary bodies of Europe that banned the royal power
to create legislation unilaterally (since 1283). The Courts were composed of the three
Estates, were presided over by the king of Aragon, and approved the constitutions, which
created a compilation of rights for the citizenship of the Principality. In order to collect general
taxes, the Courts of 1359 established a permanent representative of deputies position, called
the Deputation of the General (and later usually known as Generalitat), which gained political
power over the next centuries.The domains of the Aragonese Crown were severely affected
by the Black Death pandemic and by later outbreaks of the plague. Between 1347 and 1497 Catalonia
lost 37 percent of its population. In 1410, King Martin I died without surviving descendants.
Under the Compromise of Caspe, Ferdinand from the Castilian House of Trastámara received
the Crown of Aragon as Ferdinand I of Aragon. During the reign of his son, John II, social
and political tensions caused the Catalan Civil War (1462–1472).===Modern Era===Ferdinand II of Aragon, the grandson of Ferdinand
I, and Queen Isabella I of Castile were married in 1469, later taking the title the Catholic
Monarchs; subsequently, this event was seen by historiographers as the dawn of a unified
Spain. At this time, though united by marriage, the Crowns of Castile and Aragon maintained
distinct territories, each keeping its own traditional institutions, parliaments, laws
and currency. Castile commissioned expeditions to the Americas and benefited from the riches
acquired in the Spanish colonisation of the Americas, but, in time, also carried the main
burden of military expenses of the united Spanish kingdoms. After Isabella’s death,
Ferdinand II personally ruled both kingdoms. By virtue of descent from his maternal grandparents,
Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, in 1516 Charles I of Spain became the first
king to rule the Crowns of Castile and Aragon simultaneously by his own right. Following
the death of his paternal (House of Habsburg) grandfather, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor,
he was also elected Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1519. Over the next few centuries, the Principality
of Catalonia was generally on the losing side of a series of wars that led steadily to more
centralization of power in Spain. Despite this fact, between the 16th and 18th centuries,
the participation of the political community in the local and the general Catalan government
was increased, while the kings remained absent and its constitutional system continued to
consolidate. The Reapers’ War (1640–1652) saw Catalonia rebel (briefly as a republic
led by Pau Claris) with French help against the Spanish Crown for overstepping Catalonia’s
rights during the Thirty Years’ War. Most of Catalonia was reconquered by the Spanish
monarchy but Catalan rights were recognised. Roussillon was lost to France by the Peace
of the Pyrenees (1659).The most significant conflict concerning the governing monarchy
was the War of the Spanish Succession, which began when the childless Charles II of Spain,
the last Spanish Habsburg, died without an heir in 1700. Charles II had chosen Philip
V of Spain from the French House of Bourbon. Catalonia, like other territories that formed
the Crown of Aragon, rose up in support of the Austrian Habsburg pretender Charles VI,
Holy Roman Emperor, in his claim for the Spanish throne as Charles III of Spain. The fight
between the houses of Bourbon and Habsburg for the Spanish Crown split Spain and Europe.
The fall of Barcelona on 11 September 1714 to the Bourbon king Philip V militarily ended
the Habsburg claim to the Spanish Crown, which became legal fact in the Treaty of Utrecht.
Philip felt that he had been betrayed by the Catalan Courts, as it had initially sworn
its loyalty to him when he had presided over it in 1701. In retaliation for the betrayal,
the first Bourbon king introduced the Nueva Planta decrees that incorporated the territories
of the Crown of Aragon, including Catalonia, as provinces under the Crown of Castile in
1716, terminating their separate institutions, laws and rights, within a united kingdom of
Spain. During the second half of 18th century Catalonia started a successful process of
proto-industrialization.===Industrialisation, Republic and autonomy
===At the beginning of the nineteenth century
Catalonia was severely affected by the Napoleonic Wars. In 1808 it was occupied by the French
troops, the resistance against the occupation eventually developed into the Peninsular War.
The rejection to French dominion was institutionalized with the creation of “juntas” (councils) who,
remaining loyal to the Bourbons, exercised the sovereignty and representation of the
territory due to the disappearance of the old institutions. Napoleon took direct control
of Catalonia to establish order, creating the Government of Catalonia under the rule
of Marshall Augereau, and making Catalan briefly an official language again. Between 1812 and
1814 Catalonia was annexed to France and organized as four départements. The French troops evacuated
Catalan territory at the end of 1814. After the Bourbon restoration in Spain and the death
of the abolutist king Ferdinand VII, Carlist Wars erupted against the new born liberal
state of Isabella II. Catalonia was divided, the coast and most industrialized areas support
liberalism, while many inland areas were in the hands of Carlists. In the second third of the 19th century, it
became an industrial center. This process was boosted by, amongst other things, national
protectionist laws (although the policy of the Spanish government during those times
changed many times between free trade and protectionism) and the conditions of proto-industrialization
of the prior two centuries of the Catalan urban areas and its countryside. To this day
it remains one of the most industrialised areas of Spain. In 1832 it was inaugurated
in Barcelona the factory Bonaplata, the first of the country which worked with steam engine.
During those years, Barcelona was the focus of important revolutionary uprisings, called
“bullangues”, causing a difficult relation between many sectors of Catalan society and
the central government and, in Catalonia, a republican current began to develop; also,
inevitably, many Catalans favored a more federal Spain. Meanwhile, the Catalan language saw
a cultural renaissance (the Renaixença) at popular and bourgeois level. After the fall
of the First Spanish Republic and the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty (1874), Catalan nationalism
grew in importance. The Anarchists had been active throughout
the early 20th century, founding the CNT trade union and achieving one of the first eight-hour
workday in Europe in 1919. Growing resentment of conscription and of the military culminated
in the Tragic Week in Barcelona in 1909. In the first third of the 20th century, Catalonia
gained and lost varying degrees of autonomy several times. In 1914, the four Catalan provinces
were authorized to create a Commonwealth (Mancomunitat), without any legislative power or specific
autonomy which carried out an ambitious program of modernization, but that was disbanded in
1925 by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-1930). During the last steps of the
Dictatorship, Barcelona celebrated the 1929 International Exposition, while Spain started
to suffer an economical crisis. After the fall of the dictator and a brief
proclamation of the Catalan Republic, it received its first Statute of Autonomy during the Second
Spanish Republic (1931–1939), establishing an autonomous body, the Generalitat of Catalonia,
which included a parliament, a government and a court of appeal, and the left-wing independentist
leader Francesc Macià was elected its first president. The governments of the Republican
Generalitat, led by the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) members Francesc Macià (1931-1933)
and Lluís Companys (1933-1940) tried to implement an advanced social program, despite the internal
difficulties. This period was marked by political unrest, the effects of the economic crisis
and their social repercussions. The Statute was suspended in 1934, due to the Events of
6 October in Barcelona, as a response to the accession of right-wing Spanish nationalist
party CEDA to the government of the Republic, considered close to fascism.
After the electoral victory of the Popular Front in February 1936, the Government of
Catalonia was pardoned and the self-government restored.===Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and Franco’s
rule (1939–1975)===The defeat of the military rebellion against
the Republican government in Barcelona placed Catalonia firmly in the Republican side of
the Spanish Civil War. During the war, there were two rival powers in Catalonia: the de
jure power of the Generalitat and the de facto power of the armed popular militias. Violent
confrontations between the workers’ parties (CNT-FAI and POUM against the PSUC) culminated
in the defeat of the first ones in 1937. The situation resolved itself progressively in
favor of the Generalitat, but at the same time the Generalitat was partially losing
its autonomous power within Republican Spain. In 1938 Franco’s troops broke the Republican
territory in two, isolating Catalonia from the rest of the Republic. The defeat of the
Republican army in the Battle of the Ebro led in 1938 and 1939 to the occupation of
Catalonia by Franco’s forces. The defeat of the Spanish Republic in the
Spanish Civil War brought to power the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, whose first ten-year
rule was particularly violent, autocratic, and repressive both in a political, cultural,
social, and economical sense. In Catalonia, any kind of public activities associated with
Catalan nationalism, republicanism, anarchism, socialism, liberalism, democracy or communism,
including the publication of books on those subjects or simply discussion of them in open
meetings, was banned. Franco’s regime banned the use of Catalan in government-run institutions
and during public events, and also the Catalan institutions of self-government were abolished.
The pro-Republic of Spain president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was taken to Spain from his
exile in the German-occupied France, and was tortured and executed in the Montjuïc Castle
of Barcelona for the crime of ‘military rebellion’.During later stages of Francoist Spain, certain folkloric
and religious celebrations in Catalan resumed and were tolerated. Use of Catalan in the
mass media had been forbidden, but was permitted from the early 1950s in the theatre. Despite
the ban during the first years and the difficulties of the next period, publishing in Catalan
continued throughout his rule.The years after the war were extremely hard. Catalonia, like
many other parts of Spain, had been devastated by the war. Recovery from the war damage was
slow and made more difficult by the international trade embargo and the autarkic politics of
Franco’s regime. By the late 1950s the region had recovered its pre-war economic levels
and in the 1960s was the second fastest growing economy in the world in what became known
as the Spanish miracle. During this period there was a spectacular growth of industry
and tourism in Catalonia that drew large numbers of workers to the region from across Spain
and made the area around Barcelona into one of Europe’s largest industrial metropolitan
areas.===Transition and democratic period (1975–present)
===After Franco’s death in 1975, Catalonia voted
for the adoption of a democratic Spanish Constitution in 1978, in which Catalonia recovered political
and cultural autonomy, restoring the Generalitat (exiled since the end of the Civil War in
1939) in 1977 and adopting a new Statute of Autonomy in 1979. First election to the Parliament
of Catalonia under this Statute gave the Catalan presidency to Jordi Pujol, a position he would
hold until 2003. During this time, he also led Convergència i Unió (CiU), a center-right
Catalan nationalist electoral coalition. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the institutions of Catalan
autonomy continued to develop, among them an autonomous police force (Mossos d’Esquadra,
in 1983), and the broadcasting network Televisió de Catalunya and its first channel TV3, created
in 1983. Today, Catalonia is one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain.
The Catalan capital and largest city, Barcelona, is a major international cultural centre and
a major tourist destination. In 1992, Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympic Games.
In November 2003, elections to the Parliament of Catalonia gave the government to a left-wing
catalanist coalition formed by the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE), Republican
Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV), and the socialist
Pasqual Maragall was appointed President. The new government redacted a new version
of the Statute of Autonomy, which consolidated and extended certain aspects of self-government.
The new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, approved after a referendum in 2006, was contested
by important sectors of the Spanish society, especially by the conservative People’s Party,
which sent the law to the Constitutional Court of Spain. In 2010, the Court declared non
valid some of the articles that established an autonomous Catalan system of Justice, better
aspects of the financing, a new territorial division, the status of Catalan language or
the symbolical declaration of Catalonia as a nation. This decision was severely contested
by large sectors of Catalan society, which increased the demands of independence.
Independence movement A controversial independence referendum was
held in Catalonia on 1 October 2017, using a disputed voting process. It was declared
illegal and suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain, because it breached the 1978
Constitution. Subsequent developments saw, on 27 October 2017, a symbolic declaration
of independence by the Parliament of Catalonia, the enforcement of direct rule by the Spanish
government through the use of Article 155 of the Constitution, the dismissal of the
Executive Council and the dissolution of the Parliament, with a snap regional election
called for 21 December 2017. Former President Carles Puigdemont and five former cabinet
ministers fled Spain, whereas nine other cabinet members, including vice-president Oriol Junqueras,
were jailed under various charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds. Quim
Torra became the 131st President of the Government of Catalonia on 15 May 2018, after the Spanish
courts blocked three other candidates.In 2018, the Assemblea Nacional Catalana joined the
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on behalf of Catalonia.==Geography=====
Climate===The climate of Catalonia is diverse. The populated
areas lying by the coast in Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona provinces feature a Hot-summer
Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa). The inland part (including the Lleida province and the
inner part of Barcelona province) show a mostly Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa). The Pyrenean
peaks have a continental (Köppen D) or even Alpine climate (Köppen ET) at the highest
summits, while the valleys have a maritime or oceanic climate sub-type (Köppen Cfb).
In the Mediterranean area, summers are dry and hot with sea breezes, and the maximum
temperature is around 26–31 °C (79–88 °F). Winter is cool or slightly cold depending
on the location. It snows frequently in the Pyrenees, and it occasionally snows at lower
altitudes, even by the coastline. Spring and autumn are typically the rainiest seasons,
except for the Pyrenean valleys, where summer is typically stormy.
The inland part of Catalonia is hotter and drier in summer. Temperature may reach 35
°C (95 °F), some days even 40 °C (104 °F). Nights are cooler there than at the coast,
with the temperature of around 14–17 °C (57–63 °F). Fog is not uncommon in valleys
and plains; it can be especially persistent, with freezing drizzle episodes and subzero
temperatures during winter, mainly along the Ebro and Segre valleys and in Plain of Vic.===Topography===Catalonia has a marked geographical diversity,
considering the relatively small size of its territory. The geography is conditioned by
the Mediterranean coast, with 580 kilometres (360 miles) of coastline, and large relief
units of the Pyrenees to the north. The Catalan territory is divided into three main geomorphological
units: The Pyrenees: mountainous formation that connects
the Iberian Peninsula with the European continental territory, and located in the north of Catalonia;
The Catalan Coastal mountain ranges or the Catalan Mediterranean System: an alternating
delevacions and planes parallel to the Mediterranean coast;
The Catalan Central Depression: structural unit which forms the eastern sector of the
Valley of the Ebro. The Catalan Pyrenees represent almost half
in length of the Pyrenees, as it extends more than 200 kilometres (120 miles). Traditionally
differentiated the Axial Pyrenees (the main part) and the Pre-Pyrenees (southern from
the Axial) which are mountainous formations parallel to the main mountain ranges but with
lower altitudes, less steep and a different geological formation. The highest mountain
of Catalonia, located north of the comarca of Pallars Sobirà is the Pica d’Estats (3,143
m), followed by the Puigpedrós (2,914 m). On the Pre-Pyrenees is located the Serra del
Cadí, that separates the valley of Cerdanya from the Central Depression.
Central Catalan Depression is a plain located between the Pyrenees and Pre-Coastal Mountains.
The Depression lands are located between 200 and 600 metres (660 and 1,970 feet). The plains
and the water that descend from the Pyrenees have made it fertile territory for agriculture
and there are built numerous irrigation canals. Other important plain is the Empordà, located
on the northeast. The Catalan Mediterranean system is based
on two (more or less) parallel ranges to the coast, in a Northwest direction towards the
Southwest. These two mountain ranges are the Coastal and the Pre-Coastal. The Coastal Range
is minor extent and it has lower altitudes, while the Pre-Coastal is larger in both length
and height. The most relevant mountains of this area are Montserrat, Montseny and Ports.
Within the ranges are a series of plains, the entities over which form the Coastal and
the Pre-Coastal Depressions. The Coastal Depression is located on the East of the Coastal Range
towards the coast. The Pre-Coastal, on the other hand, is located in the interior, between
the two mountain ranges, and constitutes the basis of the plains of Vallès and Penedès.===Flora and fauna===Catalonia is a showcase of European landscapes
on a small scale. Just over 30,000 square kilometres (12,000 square miles) hosting a
variety of substrates, soils, climates, directions, altitudes and distances to the sea. The area
is of great ecological diversity and a remarkable wealth of landscapes, habitats and species.
The fauna of Catalonia comprises a minority of animals endemic to the region and a majority
of non-native animals. Much of Catalonia enjoys a Mediterranean climate (except mountain areas),
which makes many of the animals that live there adapted to Mediterranean ecosystems.
Of mammals, there are plentiful wild boar, red foxes, as well as roe deer and in the
Pyrenees, the Pyrenean chamois. Other large species such as the bear have been recently
reintroduced. Waters of Balearic Sea are rich in biodiversity,
and even the megafaunas of ocean; various type of whales (such as fin, sperm, and pilot)
and dolphins live within the area.===Hydrography===Most of Catalonia belongs to the Mediterranean
Basin. The Catalan hydrographic network consists of two important basins, the one of the Ebro
and the one that comprises the internal basins of Catalonia (respectively covering 46.84%
and 51.43% of the territory), all of them flow to the Mediterranean. Furthermore, there
is the Garona river basin that flows to the Atlantic Ocean, but it only covers 1.73% of
the Catalan territory. The hydrographic network can be divided in
two sectors, an occidental slope or Ebro river slope and one oriental slope constituted by
minor rivers that flow to the Mediterranean along the Catalan coast. The first slope provides
an average of 18,700 cubic hectometres (4.5 cubic miles) per year, while the second only
provides an average of 2,020 hm3 (0.48 cu mi)/year. The difference is due to the big
contribution of the Ebro river, from which the Segre is an important tributary. Moreover,
in Catalonia there is a relative wealth of groundwaters, although there is inequality
between comarques, given the complex geological structure of the territory. In the Pyrenees
there are many small lakes, remnants of the ice age. The biggest are the lake of Banyoles
and the recently recovered lake of Ivars. The Catalan coast is almost rectilinear, with
a length of 580 kilometres (360 mi) and few landforms—the most relevant are the Cap
de Creus and the Gulf of Roses to the north and the Ebro Delta to the south. The Catalan
Coastal Range hugs the coastline, and it is split into two segments, one between L’Estartit
and the town of Blanes (the Costa Brava), and the other at the south, at the Costes
del Garraf. The principal rivers in Catalonia are the
Ter, Llobregat, and the Ebro (Catalan: Ebre), all of which run into the Mediterranean.===Anthropic pressure and protection of nature
===The majority of Catalan population is concentrated
in 30% of the territory, mainly in the coastal plains. Intensive agriculture, livestock farming
and industrial activities have been accompanied by a massive tourist influx (more than 20
million annual visitors), a rate of urbanization and even of major metropolisation which has
led to a strong urban sprawl: a third of Catalans live in the urban area of Barcelona, while
the proportion of urbanized soils increased from 4.2% in 1993 to 6.2% in 2009, a growth
of 48.6% in sixteen years, complemented with a dense network of transport infrastructure.
This is accompanied by a certain agricultural abandonment (decrease of 15% of all areas
cultivated in Catalonia between 1993 and 2009) and a global threat to natural environment.
Human activities have also put some animal species at risk, or even led to their disappearance
from the territory, like the gray wolf and probably the brown bear of the Pyrenees. The
pressure created by this model of life means that the country’s ecological footprint exceeds
its administrative area.Faced with this problems, Catalan authorities initiated several measures
whose purpose is to protect natural ecosystems. Thus, in 1990, the Catalan government created
the Nature Conservation Council (Catalan: Consell de Protecció de la Natura), an advisory
body with the aim to study, protect and manage the natural environments and landscapes of
Catalonia. In addition, the Generalitat has carried out the Plan of Spaces of Natural
Interest (Pla d’Espais d’Interès Natural or PEIN) in 1992 while eighteen Natural Spaces
of Special Protection (Espais Naturals de Protecció Especial or ENPE) have been instituted.
There’s a National Park, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici; fourteen Natural Parks, Alt
Pirineu, Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Cadí-Moixeró, Cap de Creus, Sources of Ter and Freser, Collserola,
Ebro Delta, Ports, Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter, Montseny, Montserrat, Sant Llorenç
del Munt and l’Obac, Serra de Montsant and the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone; as well as three
Natural Places of National Interest (Paratge Natural d’Interes Nacional or PNIN), the Pedraforca,
the Poblet Forest and the Albères.==Politics==After Franco’s death in 1975 and the adoption
of a democratic constitution in Spain in 1978, Catalonia recovered and extended the powers
that it had gained in the Statute of Autonomy of 1932 but lost with the fall of the Second
Spanish Republic at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
This autonomous community has gradually achieved more autonomy since the approval of the Spanish
Constitution of 1978. The Generalitat holds exclusive jurisdiction in culture, environment,
communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local government, and shares
jurisdiction with the Spanish government in education, health and justice. In all, some
analysts argue that formally the current system grants Catalonia with “more self-government
than almost any other corner in Europe”.The support for Catalan nationalism ranges from
a demand for further autonomy and the federalisation of Spain to the desire for independence from
the rest of Spain, expressed by Catalan independentists. The first survey following the Constitutional
Court ruling that cut back elements of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, published by La
Vanguardia on 18 July 2010, found that 46% of the voters would support independence in
a referendum. In February of the same year, a poll by the Open University of Catalonia
gave more or less the same results. Other polls have shown lower support for independence,
ranging from 40 to 49%. Although it is established in the whole of the territory, support for
independence is significantly higher in the hinterland and the northeast, away from the
more populated coastal areas such as Barcelona.Since 2011 when the question started to be regularly
surveyed by the governmental Center for Public Opinion Studies (CEO), support for Catalan
independence has been on the rise. According to the CEO opinion poll from July 2016, 47.7%
of Catalans would vote for independence and 42.4% against it while, about the question
of preferences, according to the CEO opinion poll from March 2016, a 57.2 claim to be “absolutely”
or “fairly” in favour of independence. Other polls have shown lower support for independence,
ranging from 40 to 49%. Other polls show more variable results, according with the Spanish
CIS, as of December 2016, 47% of Catalans rejected independence and 45% supported it.In
hundreds of non-binding local referendums on independence, organised across Catalonia
from 13 September 2009, a large majority voted for independence, although critics argued
that the polls were mostly held in pro-independence areas. In December 2009, 94% of those voting
backed independence from Spain, on a turn-out of 25%. The final local referendum was held
in Barcelona, in April 2011. On 11 September 2012, a pro-independence march pulled in a
crowd of between 600,000 (according to the Spanish Government), 1.5 million (according
to the Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona), and 2 million (according to its promoters); whereas
poll results revealed that half the population of Catalonia supported secession from Spain. Two major factors were Spain’s Constitutional
Court’s 2010 decision to declare part of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia unconstitutional,
as well as the fact that Catalonia contributes 19.49% of the central government’s tax revenue,
but only receives 14.03% of central government’s spending.Parties that consider themselves
either Catalan nationalist or independentist have been present in all Catalan governments
since 1980. The largest Catalan nationalist party, Convergence and Union, ruled Catalonia
from 1980 to 2003, and returned to power in the 2010 election. Between 2003 and 2010,
a leftist coalition, composed by the Catalan Socialists’ Party, the pro-independence Republican
Left of Catalonia and the leftist-environmentalist Initiative for Catalonia-Greens, implemented
policies that widened Catalan autonomy.In the 25 November 2012 Catalan parliamentary
election, sovereigntist parties supporting a secession referendum gathered 59.01% of
the votes and held 87 of the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament. Parties supporting
independence from the rest of Spain obtained 49.12% of the votes and a majority of 74 seats.
Artur Mas, then the president of Catalonia, organised early elections that took place
on 27 September 2015. In these elections, Convergència and Esquerra Republicana decided
to join, and they presented themselves under the coalition named “Junts pel Sí” (in Catalan,
“Together for Yes”). “Junts pel Sí” won 62 seats and was the most voted party, and CUP
(Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, a far-left and independentist party) won another 10,
so the sum of all the independentist forces/parties was 72 seats, reaching an absolute majority,
but not in number of individual votes, comprising 47,74% of the total.===Statute of Autonomy===The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia is the
fundamental organic law, second only to the Spanish Constitution from which the Statute
originates. In the Spanish Constitution of 1978 Catalonia,
along with the Basque Country and Galicia, was defined as a “nationality”. The same constitution
gave Catalonia the automatic right to autonomy, which resulted in the Statute of Autonomy
of Catalonia of 1979. Both the 1979 Statute of Autonomy and the
current one, approved in 2006, state that “Catalonia, as a nationality, exercises its
self-government constituted as an Autonomous Community in accordance with the Constitution
and with the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, which is its basic institutional law, always
under the law in Spain”.The Preamble of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia states
that the Parliament of Catalonia has defined Catalonia as a nation, but that “the Spanish
Constitution recognizes Catalonia’s national reality as a nationality”. While the Statute
was approved by and sanctioned by both the Catalan and Spanish parliaments, and later
by referendum in Catalonia, it has been subject to a legal challenge by the surrounding autonomous
communities of Aragon, Balearic Islands and Valencia, as well as by the conservative People’s
Party. The objections are based on various issues such as disputed cultural heritage
but, especially, on the Statute’s alleged breaches of the principle of “solidarity between
regions” in fiscal and educational matters enshrined by the Constitution.Spain’s Constitutional
Court assessed the disputed articles and on 28 June 2010, issued its judgment on the principal
allegation of unconstitutionality presented by the People’s Party in 2006. The judgment
granted clear passage to 182 articles of the 223 that make up the fundamental text. The
court approved 73 of the 114 articles that the People’s Party had contested, while declaring
14 articles unconstitutional in whole or in part and imposing a restrictive interpretation
on 27 others. The court accepted the specific provision that described Catalonia as a “nation”,
however ruled that it was a historical and cultural term with no legal weight, and that
Spain remained the only nation recognised by the constitution.===Government and law===The Catalan Statute of Autonomy establishes
that Catalonia is organised politically through the Generalitat of Catalonia (in Catalan:
Generalitat de Catalunya), conformed by the Parliament, the Presidency of the Generalitat,
the Government or Executive Council and the other institutions created by the Parliament,
among them the Ombudsman (Síndic de Greuges), the Office of Auditors (Sindicatura de Comptes)
or the Council for Statutory Guarantees (Consell de Garanties Estatutàries)====Legislature====
The Parliament of Catalonia (in Catalan: Parlament de Catalunya) is the legislative body of the
Generalitat and represents the citizens of Catalonia. It is elected every four years
by universal suffrage, and it has powers to legislate in different matters such as education,
health, culture, internal institutional and territorial organization, election and control
of the president of the Generalitat and the Government, budget and other affairs, according
with the Statute of Autonomy. The last Catalan election was held on 21 December 2017, and
its current president is Roger Torrent, incumbent since January 2018.====Presidency====
The president of the Generalitat of Catalonia (in Catalan: president de la Generalitat de
Catalunya) is the highest representative of Catalonia, and is also responsible of leading
the government’s action. Since the restoration of the Generalitat on the return of democracy
in Spain, the presidents of Catalonia have been Josep Tarradellas (1977–1980, president
in exile since 1954), Jordi Pujol (1980–2003), Pasqual Maragall (2003–2006), José Montilla
(2006–2010), Artur Mas (2010–2016), Carles Puigdemont (2016–2017) and, after the imposition
of direct rule from Madrid, Quim Torra (2018–).====Executive====
The Executive Council (in Catalan: Consell Executiu) or Government (Govern), is the body
responsible of the government of the Generalitat, it holds executive and regulatory power. It
comprises the president of the Generalitat, the First Minister (or the Vice President)
and the Ministers (consellers). Its seat is the Palau de la Generalitat, in Barcelona.===Security forces and Justice===Catalonia has its own police force, the Mossos
d’Esquadra (officially called Mossos d’Esquadra-Policia de la Generalitat de Catalunya), whose origins
date back to the 18th century. Since 1980 they have been under the command of the Generalitat,
and since 1994 they have expanded in number in order to replace the national Civil Guard
and National Police Corps, which report directly to the Homeland Department of Spain. The national
bodies retain personnel within Catalonia to exercise functions of national scope such
as overseeing ports, airports, coasts, international borders, custom offices, the identification
of documents and arms control, immigration control, terrorism prevention, arms trafficking
prevention, amongst others. Most of the justice system is administered
by national judicial institutions, the highest body and last judicial instance in the Catalan
jurisdiction, integrating the Spanish judiciary, is the High Court of Justice of Catalonia.
The criminal justice system is uniform throughout Spain, while civil law is administered separately
within Catalonia. The civil laws that are subject to autonomous legislation have been
codified in the Civil Code of Catalonia (Codi civil de Catalunya) since 2002.Navarre, the
Basque Country and Catalonia are the Spanish communities with the highest degree of autonomy
in terms of law enforcement.===Administrative divisions===Catalonia is organised territorially into
provinces, further subdivided into comarques and municipalities. The 2006 Statute of Autonomy
of Catalonia establishes the administrative organisation of three local authorities: vegueries,
comarques, and municipalities.====Provinces====Catalonia is divided administratively into
four provinces, the governing body of which is the Provincial Deputation (Catalan: Diputació
Provincial, Spanish: Diputación Provincial). The four provinces and their populations are:
Province of Barcelona: 5,507,813 population Province of Girona: 752,026 population
Province of Lleida: 439,253 population Province of Tarragona: 805,789 population====
Comarques====Comarques (singular: “comarca”) are entities
composed by the municipalities to manage their responsibilities and services. The current
regional division has its roots in a decree of the Generalitat de Catalunya of 1936, in
effect until 1939, when it was suppressed by Franco. In 1987 the Government adopted
the territorial division again and in 1988 three new comarques were added (Alta Ribagorça,
Pla d’Urgell and Pla de l’Estany), and in 2015 was created another comarca, the Moianès.
At present there are 41. Every comarca is administered by a comarcal council (consell
comarcal). The Val d’Aran (Aran Valley), until 2015 considered
as a comarca, is officially defined today as “unique territorial entity”, has a special
status and its autonomous government is named Conselh Generau d’Aran.====Municipalities====There are at present 948 municipalities (municipis)
in Catalonia. Each municipality is run by a council (ajuntament) elected every four
years by the residents in local elections. The council consists of a number of members
(regidors) depending on population, who elect the mayor (alcalde or batlle). Its seat is
the town hall (ajuntament, casa de la ciutat or casa de la vila). Catalan capital cities====Vegueries====The vegueria is a new type of division defined
as a specific territorial area for the exercise of government and inter-local cooperation
with legal personality. The current Statute of Autonomy states vegueries are intended
to supersede provinces in Catalonia, and take over many of functions of the comarques.
The territorial plan of Catalonia (Pla territorial general de Catalunya) provided six general
functional areas, but was amended by Law 24/2001, of 31 December, recognizing the Alt Pirineu
i Aran as a new functional area differentiated of Ponent. On 14 July 2010 the Catalan Parliament
approved the creation of the functional area of the Penedès.
Alt Pirineu i Aran: Alta Ribagorça, Alt Urgell, Cerdanya, Pallars Jussà, Pallars Sobirà
and Val d’Aran. Àmbit Metropolità de Barcelona: Baix Llobregat,
Barcelonès, Garraf, Maresme, Vallès Oriental and Vallès Occidental.
Camp de Tarragona: Tarragonès, Alt Camp, Baix Camp, Conca de Barberà and Priorat.
Comarques gironines: Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Garrotxa, Gironès, Pla de l’Estany, La Selva
and Ripollès. Comarques centrals: Anoia (8 municipalities
of 33), Bages, Berguedà, Osona and Solsonès. Penedès: Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès, Anoia
(25 municipalities of 33) and Garraf. Ponent: Garrigues, Noguera, Segarra, Segrià,
Pla d’Urgell and Urgell. Terres de l’Ebre: Baix Ebre, Montsià, Ribera
d’Ebre and Terra Alta.==Economy==A highly industrialized land, the nominal
GDP of Catalonia in 2014 was €200 billion (usually the highest in Spain) and the per
capita GDP was €27,000 ($30,000), behind Madrid (€31,000), the Basque Country (€30,000),
and Navarre (€28,000). In that year, the GDP growth was 1.4%. In recent years there
has been a negative net relocation rate of companies based in Catalonia moving to other
autonomous communities of Spain. In 2014, for example, Catalonia lost 987 companies
to other parts of Spain (mainly Madrid), gaining 602 new ones from the rest of the country.Catalonia’s
long-term credit rating is BB (Non-Investment Grade) according to Standard & Poor’s, Ba2
(Non-Investment Grade) according to Moody’s, and BBB- (Low Investment Grade) according
to Fitch Ratings. Catalonia’s rating is tied for worst with between 1 and 5 other autonomous
communities of Spain, depending on the rating agency.In the context of the 2008 financial
crisis, Catalonia was expected to suffer a recession amounting to almost a 2% contraction
of its regional GDP in 2009. Catalonia’s debt in 2012 was the highest of all Spain’s autonomous
communities, reaching €13,476 million, i.e. 38% of the total debt of the 17 autonomous
communities, but in recent years its economy recovered a positive evolution and the GDP
grew a 3.3% in 2015. Catalonia is amongst country subdivisions
with a GDP over US$100 billion and is a member of the Four Motors for Europe organisation.
The distribution of sectors is as follows: Primary sector: 3%. The amount of land devoted
to agricultural use is 33%. Secondary sector: 37% (compared to Spain’s
29%) Tertiary sector: 60% (compared to Spain’s
67%)The main tourist destinations in Catalonia are the city of Barcelona, the beaches of
the Costa Brava in Girona, the beaches of the Costa del Maresme and Costa del Garraf
from Malgrat de Mar to Vilanova i la Geltrú and the Costa Daurada in Tarragona. In the
High Pyrenees there are several ski resorts, near Lleida. On 1 November 2012, Catalonia
started charging a tourist tax. The revenue is used to promote tourism, and to maintain
and upgrade tourism-related infrastructure. Many savings banks are based in Catalonia,
with 10 of the 46 Spanish savings banks having headquarters in the region. This list includes
Europe’s premier savings bank, La Caixa. The first private bank in Catalonia is Banc Sabadell,
ranked fourth among all Spanish private banks.The stock market of Barcelona, which in 2016 had
a volume of around €152 billion, is the second largest of Spain after Madrid, and
Fira de Barcelona organizes international exhibitions and congresses to do with different
sectors of the economy.The main economic cost for the Catalan families is the purchase of
a home. According to data from the Society of Appraisal on 31 December 2005 Catalonia
is, after Madrid, the second most expensive region in Spain for housing: 3,397 €/m²
on average (see Spanish property bubble).===Unemployment===
The unemployment rate stood at 11.5% in 2018 and was lower than the national average.===Transport=======
Airports====Airports in Catalonia are owned and operated
by Aena (a Spanish Government entity) except two airports in Lleida which are operated
by Aeroports de Catalunya (an entity belonging to the Government of Catalonia). Barcelona El Prat Airport (Aena)
Girona-Costa Brava Airport (Aena) Reus Airport (Aena)
Lleida-Alguaire Airport (Aeroports de Catalunya) Sabadell Airport (Aena)
La Seu d’Urgell Airport (Aeroports de Catalunya)====Ports====Since the Middle Ages, Catalonia has been
well integrated into international maritime networks. The port of Barcelona (owned and
operated by Puertos del Estado, a Spanish Government entity) is an industrial, commercial
and tourist port of worldwide importance. With 1,950,000 TEUs in 2015, it is the first
container port in Catalonia, the third in Spain after Valencia and Algeciras in Andalusia,
the 9th in the Mediterranean Sea, the 14th in Europe and the 68th in the world. It is
sixth largest cruise port in the world, the first in Europe and the Mediterranean with
2,364,292 passengers in 2014. The ports of Tarragona (owned and operated by Puertos del
Estado) in the southwest and Palamós near Girona at northeast are much more modest.
The port of Palamós and the other ports in Catalonia (26) are operated and administered
by Ports de la Generalitat, a Catalan Government entity.
The development of these infrastructures, resulting from the topography and history
of the Catalan territory, responds strongly to the administrative and political organization
of this autonomous community.====Roads====There are 12,000 kilometres (7,500 mi) of
roads throughout Catalonia. The principal highways are AP-7 (Autopista
de la Mediterrània) and A-7 (Autovia de la Mediterrània). They follow the coast from
the French border to Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia. The main roads generally radiate
from Barcelona. The AP-2 (Autopista del Nord-est) and A-2 (Autovia del Nord-est) connect inland
and onward to Madrid. Other major roads are: Public-own roads in Catalonia are either managed
by the autonomous government of Catalonia (e.g., C- roads) or the Spanish government
(e.g., AP- , A- , N- roads).====Railways====Catalonia saw the first railway construction
in the Iberian Peninsula in 1848, linking Barcelona with Mataró. Given the topography
most lines radiate from Barcelona. The city has both suburban and inter-city services.
The main east coast line runs through the province connecting with the SNCF (French
Railways) at Portbou on the coast. There are two publicly owned railway companies
operating in Catalonia: the Catalan FGC that operates commuter and regional services, and
the Spanish national RENFE that operates long-distance and high-speed rail services (AVE and Avant)
and the main commuter and regional service Rodalies de Catalunya, administered by the
Catalan government since 2010. High-speed rail (AVE) services from Madrid
currently reach Lleida, Tarragona and Barcelona. The official opening between Barcelona and
Madrid took place 20 February 2008. The journey between Barcelona and Madrid now takes about
two-and-a-half hours. A connection to the French high-speed TGV network has been completed
(called the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line) and the Spanish AVE service began
commercial services on the line 9 January 2013, later offering services to Marseille
on their high speed network. This was shortly followed by the commencement of commercial
service by the French TGV on 17 January 2013, leading to an average travel time on the Paris-Barcelona
TGV route of 7h 42m. This new line passes through Girona and Figueres with a tunnel
through the Pyrenees.==Demographics==As of 2017, the official population of Catalonia
was 7,522,596. 1,194,947 residents had non-Spanish nationalities representing about 16% of the
population.The Urban Region of Barcelona includes 5,217,864 people and covers an area of 2,268
km2 (876 sq mi). The metropolitan area of the Urban Region includes cities such as L’Hospitalet
de Llobregat, Sabadell, Terrassa, Badalona, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Cornellà de
Llobregat. In 1900, the population of Catalonia was 1,966,382
people and in 1970 it was 5,122,567. The sizeable increase of the population was due to the
demographic boom in Spain during the 60s and early 70s as well as in consequence of large-scale
internal migration from the rural economically weak regions to its more prospering industrial
cities. In Catalonia that wave of internal migration arrived from several regions of
Spain, especially from Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura.Immigrants from other countries
settled in Catalonia since the 1990s; a large percentage comes from Africa, Latin America
and Eastern Europe, and smaller numbers from Asia and Southern Europe, often settling in
urban centers such as Barcelona and industrial areas. In 2017, Catalonia had 1,194,497 foreign
residents (15.9% of the total population) with non-Spanish ID cards, without including
those who acquired the Spanish citizenship.===Religion===Historically, all the Catalan population was
Christian, specifically Catholic, but since the 1980s there has been a trend of decline
of Christianity and parallel growth of irreligion (including stances of atheism and agnosticism)
and other religions. According to the most recent study sponsored by the government of
Catalonia, as of 2016, 61.9% of the Catalans identify as Christians, up from 56.5% in 2014,
of whom 58.0% Catholics, 3.0% Protestants and Evangelicals, 0.9% Orthodox Christians
and 0.6% Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the same time, 16.0% of the population identify as
atheists, 11.9% as agnostics, 4.8% as Muslims, 1.3% as Buddhists, and a further 2.4% as being
of other religions.===Languages===According to the linguistic census held by
the Government of Catalonia in 2013, Spanish is the most spoken language in Catalonia (46.53%
claim Spanish as “their own language”), followed by Catalan (37.26% claim Catalan as “their
own language”). In everyday use, 11.95% of the population claim to use both languages
equally, whereas 45.92% mainly use Spanish and 35.54% mainly use Catalan. There is a
significant difference between the Barcelona metropolitan area (and, to a lesser extent,
the Tarragona area), where Spanish is more spoken than Catalan, and the more rural Catalonia,
where Catalan clearly prevails over Spanish.Originating in the historic territory of Catalonia, Catalan
has enjoyed special status since the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of 1979 which declares
it to be “Catalonia’s own language”, a term which signifies a language given special legal
status within a Spanish territory, or which is historically spoken within a given region.
The other languages with official status are Spanish, which has official status throughout
Spain, and Aranese Occitan, which enjoys co-official status with Catalan and Spanish in the Val
d’Aran. Since the Statute of Autonomy of 1979, Aranese
(a dialect of Gascon Occitan) has also been official and subject to special protection
in Val d’Aran. This small area of 7,000 inhabitants was the only place where a dialect of Occitan
has received full official status. Then, on 9 August 2006, when the new Statute came into
force, Occitan became official throughout Catalonia. Occitan is the mother tongue of
22.4% of the population of Val d’Aran. Catalan Sign Language is also officially recognised.Although
not considered an “official language” in the same way as Catalan, Spanish, and Aranese,
Catalan Sign Language, with about 18,000 users in Catalonia, is granted official recognition
and support: “The public authorities shall guarantee the use of Catalan sign language
and conditions of equality for deaf people who choose to use this language, which shall
be the subject of education, protection and respect.”
Under Francoist Spain, Catalan was excluded from the public education system and all other
official use, so that for example families were not allowed to officially register children
with Catalan names. Although never completely banned, Catalan language publishing was severely
restricted during the early 1940s, with only religious texts and small-run self-published
texts being released. Some books were published clandestinely or circumvented the restrictions
by showing publishing dates prior to 1936. This policy was changed in 1946, when restricted
publishing in Catalan resumed.Rural–urban migration originating in other parts of Spain
also reduced the social use of Catalan in urban areas and increased the use of Spanish.
Lately, a similar sociolinguistic phenomenon has occurred with foreign immigration. Catalan
cultural activity increased in the 1960s and Catalan classes began thanks to the initiative
of associations such as Òmnium Cultural. After the end of Francoist Spain, the newly
established self-governing democratic institutions in Catalonia embarked on a long-term language
policy to recover the use of Catalan and has, since 1983, enforced laws which attempt to
protect and extend the use of Catalan. This policy, known as the “linguistic normalisation”
(normalització lingüística in Catalan, normalización lingüística in Spanish) has
been supported by the vast majority of Catalan political parties through the last thirty
years. Some groups consider these efforts a way to discourage the use of Spanish, whereas
some others, including the Catalan government and the European Union consider the policies
respectful, or even as an example which “should be disseminated throughout the Union”.
Today, Catalan is the main language of the Catalan autonomous government and the other
public institutions that fall under its jurisdiction. Basic public education is given basically
in Catalan, but also there are some hours per week of Spanish medium instruction. Businesses
are required to display all information (e.g. menus, posters) at least in Catalan, under
penalty of fines. There is no obligation to display this information in either Occitan
or Spanish, although there is no restriction on doing so in these or other languages. The
use of fines was introduced in a 1997 linguistic law that aims to increase the public use of
Catalan and defend the rights of Catalan speakers. In the other hand, the constitution of Spain
obligates every citizen to know Spanish. The law ensures that both Catalan and Spanish
– being official languages – can be used by the citizens without prejudice in all public
and private activities,. The Generalitat uses Catalan in its communications and notifications
addressed to the general population, but citizens can also receive information from the Generalitat
in Spanish if they so desire. Debates in the Catalan Parliament take place almost exclusively
in Catalan and the Catalan public television broadcasts programs basically in Catalan.
Due to the intense immigration which Spain in general and Catalonia in particular experienced
in the first decade of the 21st century, many foreign languages are spoken in various cultural
communities in Catalonia, of which Rif-Berber, Moroccan Arabic, Romanian and Urdu are the
most common ones.In Catalonia, there is a high social and political consensus on the
language policies favoring Catalan, also among Spanish speakers and speakers of other languages.
However, some of these policies have been criticised for trying to promote Catalan by
imposing fines on businesses. For example, following the passage of the law on Catalan
cinema in March 2010, which established that half of the movies shown in Catalan cinemas
had to be in Catalan, a general strike of 75% of the cinemas took place. The Catalan
government gave in and dropped the clause that forced 50% of the movies to be dubbed
or subtitled in Catalan before the law came to effect. On the other hand, organisations
such as Plataforma per la Llengua reported different violations of the linguistic rights
of the Catalan speakers in Catalonia and the other Catalan-speaking territories in Spain,
most of them caused by the institutions of the Spanish government in these territories.The
Catalan language policy has been challenged by some political parties in the Catalan Parliament.
Citizens, currently the main opposition party, has been one of the most consistent critics
of the Catalan language policy within Catalonia. The Catalan branch of the People’s Party has
a more ambiguous position on the issue: on one hand, it demands a bilingual Catalan–Spanish
education and a more balanced language policy that would defend Catalan without favoring
it over Spanish, whereas on the other hand, a few local PP politicians have supported
in their municipalities measures privileging Catalan over Spanish and it has defended some
aspects of the official language policies, sometimes against the positions of its colleagues
from other parts of Spain.==Culture=====
Art and architecture===Catalonia has given to the world many important
figures in the area of the art. Catalan painters internationally known are, among others, Salvador
Dalí, Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies. Closely linked with the Catalan pictorial atmosphere,
Pablo Picasso lived in Barcelona during his youth, training them as an artist and creating
the movement of cubism. Other important artists are Claudi Lorenzale for the medieval Romanticism
that marked the artistic Renaixença, Marià Fortuny for the Romanticism and Catalan Orientalism
of the nineteenth century, Ramon Casas or Santiago Rusiñol, main representatives of
the pictorial current of Catalan modernism from the end of the nineteenth century to
the beginning of the twentieth century, Josep Maria Sert for early 20th-century Noucentisme,
or Josep Maria Subirachs for expressionist or abstract sculpture and painting of the
late twentieth century. The most important painting museums of Catalonia
are the Teatre-Museu Dalí in Figueres, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), Picasso
Museum, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró Foundation, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary
Art (MACBA), the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) and the CaixaForum.
In the field of architecture were developed and adapted to Catalonia different artistic
styles prevalent in Europe, leaving footprints in many churches, monasteries and cathedrals,
of Romanesque (the best examples of which are located in the northern half of the territory)
and Gothic styles. The Gothic developed in Barcelona and its area of influence is known
as Catalan Gothic, with some particular characteristics. The church of Santa Maria del Mar is an example
of this kind of style. During the Middle Ages, many fortified castles were built by feudal
nobles to mark their powers. There are some examples of Renaissance (such
as the Palau de la Generalitat), Baroque and Neoclassical architectures. In the late nineteenth
century Modernism (Art Nouveau) appeared as the national art. The world-renowned Catalan
architects of this style are Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig
i Cadafalch. Thanks to the urban expansion of Barcelona during the last decades of the
century and the first ones of the next, many buildings of the Eixample are modernists.
In the field of architectural rationalism, which turned especially relevant in Catalonia
during the Republican era (1931-1939) highlighting Josep Lluís Sert and Josep Torres i Clavé,
members of the GATCPAC and, in contemporany architecture, Ricardo Bofill and Enric Miralles.====Monuments and World Heritage Sites====There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites
in Catalonia: Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, Tarragona
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí, Lleida province
Poblet Monastery, Poblet, Tarragona province Works of Lluís Domènech i Montaner:
Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
Works of Antoni Gaudí: Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Parc Güell, Barcelona Palau Güell, Barcelona
Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Barcelona Casa Vicens, Barcelona
Casa Batlló, Barcelona The Church of Colònia Güell, Santa Coloma
de Cervelló, Barcelona province===
Literature===Literary use of the Catalan language is considered
to have started with the religious text known as Homilies d’Organyà, written either in
late 11th or early 12th century. There are two historical moments of splendor
of Catalan literature. The first begins with the historiography chronicles of the 13th
century (chronicles written between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries narrating the deeds
of the monarchs and leading figures of the Crown of Aragon) and the subsequent Golden
Age of the 14th and 15th centuries. After that period, between the 16th and 19th centuries
the Romantic historiography defined this era as the Decadència, considered as the “decadent”
period in Catalan literature because of a general falling into disuse of the vernacular
language in cultural contexts and lack of patronage among the nobility. The second moment of splendor began in the
19th century with the cultural and political Renaixença (Renaissance) represented by writers
and poets such as Jacint Verdaguer, Narcís Oller, Joan Maragall and Àngel Guimerà.
During the 20th century were developed the avant-garde movements initiated by the Generation
of ’14 (called Noucentisme in Catalonia), represented by Eugeni d’Ors, Joan Salvat-Papasseit,
Josep Carner, Carles Riba, J.V. Foix and others. During the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera,
the Civil War (Generation of ’36) and the Francoist period, Catalan literature is maintained
despite the repression against the Catalan language, being often produced in exile. The
most outstanding authors of this period are Salvador Espriu, Josep Pla, Josep Maria de
Sagarra (the latter three being considered as the main responsible of the renewal of
Catalan prose), Mercè Rodoreda, Joan Oliver Sallarès or “Pere Quart”, Pere Calders, Gabriel
Ferrater, Manuel de Pedrolo, Agustí Bartra or Miquel Martí i Pol. In addition, several
foreign writers who fought in the framework of the International Brigades then recount
their experiences of fighting in their works, historical or fictional, with for example
Homage to Catalonia of the British George Orwell in 1938 or Le Palace in 1962 and The
Georgics in 1981 by Frenchman Claude Simon. After the transition to democracy (1975–1978)
and the restoration of the Generalitat (1977), literary life and the editorial market have
returned to normality and literary production in Catalan is being bolstered with a number
of language policies intended to protect Catalan culture. Besides the aforementioned authors,
other relevant 20th-century writers of the Francoist and democracy periods include Joan
Brossa, Agustí Bartra, Manuel de Pedrolo, Pere Calders or Quim Monzó.
Ana María Matute, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and Juan Goytisolo are
among the most prominent Catalan writers in the Spanish language since the democratic
restoration in Spain.===Festivals and public holidays===Castells are one of the main manifestations
of Catalan popular culture. The activity consists in constructing human towers by competing
colles castelleres (teams). This practice originated in Valls, on the region of the
Camp de Tarragona, during the 18th century, and later it was extended along the next two
centuries to the rest of the territory. The tradition of els Castells i els Castellers
was declared Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.
In the greater celebrations other elements of the Catalan popular culture are usually
present: the parades of gegants (giants) and correfocs of devils and firecrackers. Another
traditional celebration in Catalonia is La Patum de Berga, declared Masterpiece of the
Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on 25 November 2005. There are some local Christmas traditions;
one of them is the popular figure of the Tió de Nadal, consisting in a hollow log which
after few days taking care of it, during Christmas Day or on Christmas Eve one orders it to defecate
presents and, in order to make this, children beats the tió with sticks, while they singing
various traditional songs. Another custom is to make a pessebre (Nativity scene), and
usually includes the caganer, a figurine depicted in the act of defecation.In addition to traditional
local Catalan culture, traditions from other parts of Spain can be found as a result of
migration from other regions, for instance the celebration of the Andalusian Feria de
Abril in Catalonia. On 28 July 2010, second only after the Canary
Islands, Catalonia became another Spanish territory to forbid bullfighting. The ban,
which went into effect on 1 January 2012, had originated in a popular petition supported
by over 180,000 signatures.===Music and dance===The sardana is considered to be the most characteristic
Catalan folk dance, interpreted to the rhythm of tamborí, tible and tenora (from the oboe
family), trumpet, trombó (trombone), fiscorn (family of bugles) and contrabaix with three
strings played by a cobla, and are danced in a circle dance. Other tunes and dances
of the traditional music are the contrapàs (obsolete today), ball de bastons (the “dance
of sticks”), the moixiganga, the goigs (popular songs), the galops or the jota in the southern
part. The havaneres are characteristic in some marine localities of the Costa Brava,
especially during the summer months when these songs are sung outdoors accompanied by a cremat
of burned rum. Art music was first developed, up to the nineteenth
century and, as in much of Europe, in a liturgical setting, particularly marked by the Escolania
de Montserrat. The main Western musical trends have marked these productions, medieval monodies
or polyphonies, with the work of Abbot Oliba in the eleventh century or the compilation
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (“Red Book of Montserrat”) from the fourteenth century.
Through the Renaissance there were authors such as Pere Albert Vila, Joan Brudieu or
the two Mateu Fletxa (“The Old” and “The Young”). Baroque had composers like Joan Cererols.
The Romantic music was represented by composers such as Fernando Sor, Josep Anselm Clavé
(father of choir movement in Catalonia and responsible of the music folk reviving) or
Felip Pedrell. Modernisme also expressed in musical terms
from the end of the 19th century onwards, mixing folkloric and post-romantic influences,
through the works of Isaac Albéniz and Enric Granados. The avant-garde spirit initiated
by the modernists is prolonged throughout the twentieth century, thanks to the activities
of the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891, with its monumental concert hall,
the Palau de la Música Catalana in Catalan, built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner from
1905 to 1908, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra created in 1944 and composers, conductors
and musicians engaged against the Francoism like Robert Gerhard, Eduard Toldrà and Pau
Casals. Performances of opera, mostly imported from
Italy, began in the 18th century, but some native operas were written as well, including
the ones by Domènec Terradellas, Carles Baguer, Ramon Carles, Isaac Albéniz and Enric Granados.
The Barcelona main opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu (opened in 1847), remains one of
the most important in Spain, hosting one of the most prestigious music schools in Barcelona,
the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. Several lyrical artists trained by this institution
gained international renown during the 20th century, such as Victoria de los Ángeles,
Montserrat Caballé, Giacomo Aragall and Josep Carreras.
Cellist Pau Casals is admired as an outstanding player. Other popular musical styles were
born in the second half of the 20th century such as Nova Cançó from the 1960s with Lluís
Llach and the group Els Setze Jutges, the Catalan rumba in the 1960s with Peret, Catalan
Rock from the late 1970s with La Banda Trapera del Río and Decibelios for Punk Rock, Sau,
Els Pets, Sopa de Cabra or Lax’n’Busto for Pop Rock or Sangtraït for hard rock, electropop
since the 1990s with OBK and indie pop from the 1990s.===Media and cinema===Catalonia is the autonomous community, along
with Madrid, that has the most media (TV, Magazines, Newspapers etc.). In Catalonia
there is a wide variety of local and comarcal media. With the restoration of democracy,
many newspapers and magazines, until then in the hands of the Franco government, were
recovered in order to convert them into free and democratic media, while local radios and
televisions were implemented. Televisió de Catalunya, which broadcasts
entirely in the Catalan language, is the main Catalan public TV. It has five channels: TV3,
El 33/Super3, 3/24, Esport3 and TV3CAT. In 2018, TV3 became the first television channel
to be the most viewed one for nine consecutive years in Catalonia. State televisions that
broadcast in Catalonia in Spanish language include Televisión Española (with few emissions
in Catalan), Antena 3, Cuatro, Telecinco, and La Sexta. Other smaller Catalan television
channels include; 8TV (owned by Grup Godó), El Punt Avui TV, Barça TV and the local televisions,
the greatest exponent of which is betevé, the TV channel of Barcelona, which also broadcasts
in Catalan. The two main Catalan newspapers of general
information are El Periódico de Catalunya and La Vanguardia, both with editions in Catalan
and Spanish. Catalan only published newspapers include Ara and El Punt Avui (from the fusion
of El Punt and Avui in 2011), as well as most part of the local press. The Spanish newspapers,
such as El País, El Mundo or La Razón, can be also acquired.
Catalonia has a long tradition of use of radio, the first regular regular radio broadcast
in the country was from Ràdio Barcelona in 1924. Today, the public Catalunya Ràdio (owned
by Catalan Media Corporation) and the private RAC 1 (belonging to Grup Godó) are the two
main radios of Catalonia, both in Catalan. Regarding the cinema, after the democratic
transition, three styles have dominated since then. First, auteur cinema, in the continuity
of the Barcelona School, emphasizes experimentation and form, while focusing on developing social
and political themes. Worn first by Josep Maria Forn or Bigas Luna, then by Marc Recha,
Jaime Rosales and Albert Serra, this genre has achieved some international recognition.
Then, the documentary became another genre particularly representative of contemporary
Catalan cinema, boosted by Joaquim Jordà i Català and José Luis Guerín. Later, horror
films and thrillers have also emerged as a specialty of the Catalan film industry, thanks
in particular to the vitality of the Sitges Film Festival, created in 1968. Several directors
have gained worldwide renown thanks to this genre, starting with Jaume Balagueró and
his series REC (co-directed with Valencian Paco Plaza), Juan Antonio Bayona and El Orfanato
or Jaume Collet-Serra with Orphan, Unknown and Non-Stop.
Catalan actors have shot for Spanish and international productions, such as Sergi López.
The Museum of Cinema – Tomàs Mallol Collection (Museu del Cinema – Col.lecció Tomàs Mallol
in Catalan) of Girona is home of important permanent exhibitions of cinema and pre-cinema
objects. Other important institutions for the promotion of cinema are the Gaudí Awards
(Premis Gaudí in Catalan, which replaced from 2009 Barcelona Film Awards themselves
created in 2002), serving as equivalent for Catalonia to the Spanish Goya or French César.===Philosophy===Seny is a form of ancestral Catalan wisdom
or sensibleness. It involves well-pondered perception of situations, level-headedness,
awareness, integrity, and right action. Many Catalans consider seny something unique to
their culture, is based on a set of ancestral local customs stemming from the scale of values
and social norms of their society.===Sport===Sport has an important incidence in Catalan
life and culture since the beginning of the 20th century and, as a result, it has a well
developed sport infraestructure. The main sports are football, basketball, handball,
rink hockey, tennis and motorsport. Despite the fact that the most popular sports
are represented outside by the Spanish national teams, Catalonia can officially play as itself
in some others, like korfball, futsal or rugby league. Most of Catalan Sports Federations
have a long tradition and some of them participated in the foundation of international sports
federations, as the Catalan Federation of Rugby, that was one of the founder members
of the Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) in 1934. The majority of Catalan
sport federations are part of the Sports Federation Union of Catalonia (Catalan: Unió de Federacions
Esportives de Catalunya), founded in 1933. The Catalan Football Federation also periodically
fields a national team against international opposition, organizing friendly matches. In
the recent years they have played with Bulgaria, Argentina, Brazil, Basque Country, Colombia,
Nigeria, Cape Verde and Tunisia. The biggest football clubs are FC Barcelona (also known
as Barça), who have won five European Cups (UEFA Champions League), and RCD Espanyol,
who have twice been runner-up of the UEFA Cup. Both play in La Liga.
The Catalan waterpolo is one of the main powers of the Iberian Peninsula. The Catalans won
triumphs in waterpolo competitions at European and world level by club (the Barcelona was
champion of Europe in 1981/82 and the Catalonia in 1994/95) and national team (one gold and
one silver in Olympic Games and World Championships). It also has many international synchronized
swimming champions. Motorsport has a long tradition in Catalonia,
which involving many people, with some world champions and several competitions organized
since the beginning of the 20th century. The Circuit de Catalunya, built in 1991, is one
of the main motorsport venues, holding the Catalan motorcycle Grand Prix, the Spanish
F1 Grand Prix, a DTM race, and several other races.
Catalonia hosted many relevant international sport events, such as the 1992 Summer Olympics
in Barcelona, and also the 1955 Mediterranean Games, the 2013 World Aquatics Championships
or the 2018 Mediterranean Games. It held annually the fourth-oldest still-existing cycling stage
race in the world, the Volta a Catalunya (Tour of Catalonia).===Symbols===Catalonia has its own representative and distinctive
national symbols such as: The flag of Catalonia, called the Senyera,
is a vexillological symbol based on the heraldic emblem of Counts of Barcelona and the coat
of arms of the Crown of Aragon, which consists of four red stripes on a golden background.
It has been an official symbol since the Statute of Catalonia of 1932.
The National Day of Catalonia is on 11 September, and it is commonly called la Diada. It commemorates
the 1714 Siege of Barcelona defeat during the War of the Spanish Succession.
The national anthem of Catalonia is Els Segadors and was written in its present form by Emili
Guanyavents in 1899. The song is official by law from 25 February 1993. It is based
on the events of 1639 and 1640 during the Catalan Revolt.
St George’s Day (Diada de Sant Jordi) is widely celebrated in all the towns of Catalonia on
23 April, and includes an exchange of books and roses between couples or family members.===Cuisine===Catalan gastronomy has a long culinary tradition.
Various local food recipes have been described in documents dating from the fifteenth century.
As with all the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Catatonian dishes make abundant use of fish,
seafood, olive oil, bread and vegetables. Regional specialties include the pa amb tomàquet
(bread with tomato), which consists of bread (sometimes toasted), and tomato seasoned with
olive oil and salt. Often the dish is accompanied with any number of sausages (cured botifarres,
fuet, iberic ham, etc.), ham or cheeses. Others dishes include the calçotada, escudella i
carn d’olla, suquet de peix (fish stew), and a dessert, Catalan cream.
Catalan vineyards also have several Denominacions d’Origen wines, such as: Priorat, Montsant,
Penedès and Empordà. There is also a sparkling wine, the cava.Catalonia is internationally
recognized for its fine dining. Three of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants are in Catalonia,
and four restaurants have three Michelin stars, including restaurants like El Bulli or El
Celler de Can Roca, both of which regularly dominate international rankings of restaurants.==Image gallery==
Catalonia gallery==
Twinning and covenants==Nuevo León, Mexico
California, United States Quebec, Canada==See also==Outline of Catalonia
List of people from Catalonia Catalan Countries
List of European regions by GDP Catalan Company==Notes

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