|Official languages||Catalan and Spanish|
In Vall d'Aran, also Aranese.
- % of Spain
32 114 km²
- Total (2003)
- % of Spain
6 506 440
|Statute of Autonomy||December 22, 1979|
|President||Jordi Pujol i Soley (CU)|
|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.
Diferently from the Spanish Basque Country (autonomous communities of Navarra and Pais Vasco), it lacks of an own fiscal system, thus the economic sustainment of the regional administration depends nearly totally on the Spanish government budgets.
See comarques of Catalonia for the administrative division in comarques (roughly equivalent to counties).
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2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia
- Catalan Pyrenees: Val d'Aran in the north face, Pica d'Estats 3141 m., Puigmal 2911 m., Cerdanya depression, Perthus pass (near the ancient Roman road).
- Catalan Litoral mountains: Montseny, Montserrat, Montsant.
- Iberic system: Maestrat.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia
- Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, Tarragona
- Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
- Parc Güell, Barcelona
- Palau Güell, Barcelona
- Casa Milà, Barcelona
- Poblet Monastery, Poblet, Tarragona province
- Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona
- Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
TraditionsCatalonia'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.