What Is Catalonia? A Brief Overview

(Last Updated On: November 25, 2019)
What Is Catalonia?

Someone who has never been to Spain before or who has not studied a lot about this European country may be under the influence that every part of it is controlled by the same government. This happens to be simultaneously true and not true. Sounds weird, right? 

While it is an accurate statement to say that Spain’s government, which is run out of the capital of Madrid, does control some aspects of the entire country, there are many things that they are not in control of. This is because the entire country of Spain consists of semi-autonomous communities. 

What this means is that the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain are all run by their individual governments, laws, and police, and are simply overseen by the federal government of Spain. Each of these communities consists of several smaller areas that are known as provinces, giving Spain a total of 50 different provinces. 

Although there are many different autonomous communities throughout Spain, there is one in particular that is extremely interesting. Here is a brief overview of what Catalonia is and what makes it so significant. 

Where Is Catalonia?

Located in the northeast corner of the country is the autonomous community of Catalonia. Within this community are the smaller provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, and Lleida. As a section of Spain that borders the Mediterranean Sea and contains the immensely popular city of Barcelona, Catalonia is one of the richest areas in the entire country. 

It also happens to be one of the most populated communities in Spain with a population of over 7.5 million people–a number expected to keep growing steadily. The majority of this population is located within only a few miles of the Mediterranean coastline. This is where the larger cities are located and as a result, the coast provinces look quite a bit different from the interior of Catalonia. 

Catalonia on a Map.

What Does Catalonia Look Like?

As you get further away from the Mediterranean shoreline, you begin to enter what is called the Hinterlands. This area is largely made up of various agricultural settlements. Within these agricultural settlements, you can expect to find a lot of wine, olive oil, almonds, potatoes, corn, and rice being produced. Any of the agricultural areas that raise animals instead of growing crops likely contain a combination of pigs and cows since these are the dominant animals in the area. 

While agriculture is certainly an important part of Catalonia’s business sector, it has long been diversified in other industries as well. In fact, dating as far back as the late 13th century, Catalonia has had a major investment in the textile industry. To this day, textiles remain a major component of business done in Catalonia, but it has also been slightly overshadowed by the newer food processing, metalworking, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. 

Two of the community’s biggest claims to fame are the fact that it is the producer of electric vehicles for Nissan as well as being home to one of the largest tourism industries in the entire country. 

What Is Life In Catalonia Like?

For the most part, Catalonia is a very peaceful and prosperous community that contains a large portion of Spain’s wealth. Unfortunately, for all of the success that the autonomous community has, it also suffers from several issues, one of which is its fairly high unemployment. 

Even worse than this rampant unemployment is the amount of political trouble that Catalonia has been experiencing for the last few centuries. In fact, one of the earliest examples of political rebellion to occur in Catalonia dates all the way back to 1462, when the residents of this community decided to try and oppose their leader John II

Since then, Catalonia has been through many political troubles, including the one that is currently underway. Although Catalonia has long been governed by its own executive council and president, which are known as the Generalitat, as well as a unicameral parliament, it has frequently expressed interest in obtaining complete independence from the rest of Spain. A large part of this is due to the belief that Catalonia distributes too much wealth to the rest of Spain, considering the fact that it is solely responsible for almost 20 percent of Spain’s entire GDP. 

On October 1st, 2017, the government of Catalonia conducted a referendum for seeking independence from Spain. As a response, the Spanish government arrested several Catalonia politicians and completely dissolved its parliament. In mid 2018, Catalonia once again took control over its autonomous community by establishing a new government. Currently, Catalonia is still dealing with a lot of internal conflict regarding whether or not they should remain a part of Spain or become a separate country. 

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