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Comunitat Autònoma de Catalunya
Comunidad Autónoma de Cataluña
Official languagesCatalan and Spanish
In Vall d'Aran, also Aranese.
 - total
 - % of Spain
Ranked 6th
32 114 km²
 - Total (2003)
 - % of Spain
 - Density
Ranked 2nd
6 506 440

 - English
 - Catalan
 - Spanish

Statute of Autonomy December 22, 1979
ISO 3166-2CT

 Congress seats
 Senate seats

PresidentPasqual Maragall i Mira (PSC)
Generalitat de Catalunya

Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya, Spanish: Cataluña, French: Catalogne) is the core region of the area where Catalan is spoken, delimited by the Spanish autonomous region (comunitat autònoma) of the same name in the north-east of the Spanish state. It covers an area of 31,950 sq. km. with a population of 6.3 million, and its capital is Barcelona.

It constitutes the original nucleus and the most important and extensive territory of Catalan language and culture. The historic region of Catalonia also includes North Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya Nord), a province of France since 1659. The neighbouring Valencia region (Catalan: València), the Balearic Islands (Catalan: Illes Balears), Andorra, and an adjacent area of Aragon (informally referred to as la Franja de Ponent) are closely associated with Catalonia historically and linguistically. The whole area is usually referred to as Catalan Countries (Catalan: "Països Catalans").

The term Catalonia is, however, sometimes used by Catalans to refer to the whole Catalan-speaking area. Then Catalonia is usually called the Principality (Catalan: "el Principat") or the strict Catalonia (Catalan: "la Catalunya estricta"). This terminology, though, is only used marginally.

The official name of the Government of Catalonia (including the Council, the Parliament and the President) is Generalitat de Catalunya. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the Council, as if it was the same as Cabinet - however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the (autonomous) Catalan system of government, just like the Portuguese Republic is the (independent) Portuguese system of government.

The region has widespread autonomy and for example its own police force Mossos d'Esquadra, coexisting with the Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional, ruled by the Spanish government.

Unlike the autonomous communities of Navarre and the Basque Country, it lacks its own fiscal system, thus the economic sustainment of the regional administration depends almost entirely on the Spanish government budgets.

See comarques of Catalonia for the administrative division in comarques (roughly equivalent to counties).

The Spanish administrative division includes these 4 provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona.

See History of Catalonia, Catalan Countries

Table of contents
1 Politics of Catalonia
2 Geography
3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia
4 Traditions
5 External Links

Politics of Catalonia

A Catalan nationalist movement arose in the nineteenth century, and when the Spanish Republic was declared in 1931, Catalonia became an autonomous region. In 1939 Francisco Franco came to power and supressed Catalan autonomy, and tried also to suppress the Catalan language and Catalan culture. During the last decade of Franco's rule renewed nationalist sentiment built up in Catalonia.

In 1975 Franco died and democracy was restored soon after. Once again Catalonia became an autonomous region within Spain. The Catalan nationalist leader Jordi Pujol came to power in the first regional elections in 1980, and his party, Convergence and Unity (Convergència i Unió or CiU), held power for 23 years.

Despite his radical background, Pujol became increasingly conservative in office, and supported Jose Maria Aznar's conservative People's Party (PP) government in Madrid. Nationalist sentiment became increasingly dissatisfied with his rule. At the same time, the Catalan Socialists' Party (Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya, PSC), based in the industrial heartland of Barcelona, regained its strength.

One of the keys to Catalan politics is the fact that Barcelona, because it attracts migrants from all over Spain and from Latin America, is a majority Spanish-speaking city, particularly in working-class areas, while the rural regions remain solidly Catalan-speaking. The Socialists have become the party of those who resent the dominance of middle-class Catalan nationalists over Barcelona.

At the regional elections held on November 16 2003, at which Pujol retired, the combined parties of the left defeated the CiU for the first time, and Pasqual Maragall i Mira became President of the Generalitat. Maragall's Socialists, however, actually lost seats: the big winners were the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya or ERC), which favours full Catalan independence, and the Greens. Carod-Rovira, ERC's leader, is the conseller en cap (prime minister) of the Catalan Government.

Maragall's government will thus be an uncomfortable alliance between the PSC and the ERC, because the ERC favours more left-wing policies and progress towards Catalan independence, both of which the PSC opposes.


'Summary of votes and seats

Votes and seats are compared with those won at the 1999 election.

Voters:                               5,307,837
Voting:                               3,319,276   62.5%
Invalid votes:                            8,793   00.3%
Valid votes:                          3,310,483   99.7%
Party                                 Votes       %               Seats
Convergència i Unió                   1,024,425   30.9  (-06.8)    46  (-10) 
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya       544,324   16.4  (+07.7)    23  (+11) 
Iniciativa Verds-Esquerra Alternativa   241,163   07.3  (+04.8)     9  (+06) 
Partit Popular                          393,499   11.9  (+02.4)    15  (+03) 
Partit Socialista de Catalunya        1,031,454   31.2  (-06.6)    42  (-10) 
Others                                   75,618   02.3              -
Total                                 3,310,483                   135


The Spanish autonomous comunity of Catalonia borders on Valencia to the south, Aragon to the west, France and Andorra to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east and southeast.


Major rivers:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia

See also:


Catalonia's festivals and traditions unify Catalan society and help to give it its particular character. Amongst the most striking of festive events are the correfocs, in which "devils" play with fire and with the people. These devils are not the incarnation of evil; they are sprightly and festive, dancing to the sound of the tambourine and the traditional oboe, while they set off their fireworks.

But perhaps the most spectacular of the Catalan festivals are those of the colles castelleres, groups of enthusiasts who form impressive human towers (up to nine people high towers). This is an old tradition of the Tarragona region, which has now spread to many parts of Catalonia, and has become a real spectacle, or sport, that attracts thousands of Catalans. Amongst other important festivities are the carnival in Vilanova i la Geltrú and the Patum in Berga.

Then, there is the very special music of the cobles, the wind bands that play sardanes. The sardana is a circular, open dance, that originated in the Empordà region (north of the country by the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees (Catalan Pirineus), and is now danced in many squares and streets. Anyone can join in.

The anthem of Catalonia is "Els Segadors" (The Reapers). National day is September 11, after the defeat and surrender of Barcelona to the French-Castilian army of Philip V of Spain.

Autonomous Communities of Spain
Basque Country
Balearic Is
Canary Is
Castile-La Mancha
La Rioja
Plazas de soberanía

External Links