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State

Capital

Catalonia*

Barcelona

Catalunya

Currency unit

euro

Connections

Andorra

EU

Spain

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

The reconquest of Spain from the Arab and Berber Muslims took place from a number of small Christian kingdoms and entities. One of these was the County of Barcelona (headed by the Count) and the kingdom of Aragon where the king also had the title of Count.

As in most of post-Roman Europe a number of dialects grew out of Latin. Some of these gained the status of official languages; others remained peasant dialects. Catalan (and its extension in France, Provençal) became an important literary language and the vehicle of Troubador poetry, from which stemmed the western tradition of romantic love (itself deriving from contemporary Arabic literature). The Kingdom and County developed into the kingdom of Aragon. This conquered the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, Minorca) from the Arab rulers and parts of southern Italy including Sicily from the Norman kingdom. To the west the other kingdoms coalesced into the kingdom of Castile based on Toledo.

By 1479 there were three main Iberian kingdoms: Portugal, Castile and Aragon (and Navarre and Andorra). In that year the two kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united when Fernando of Aragon became king of Castile, being already married to Queen Isabella of Castile. Thus to many Catalans it is by no means inevitable that there should be a single Spanish state. It would have been just as logical to have continued with the three state structure. Many Catalans would prefer to revive the pre-1479 situation. The union of the kingdoms perhaps happened too late to be permanent. Catalan did not decline to a local dialect (as Scots may have done) but remains a literary language. Castilian remains the language of Spain and of Spanish America. Some Catalan nationalists hope that in the foreseeable future they may have a direct relationship with Brussels and the European Union, thus effectively dissolving the unity of Spain. Do they have a majority? It is not clear that they do, and perhaps the majority will be content with the local autonomy now achieved.

During the Franco dictatorship the use of Catalan for official purposes was forbidden as Franco wished only Castilian to be used in Spain.

The main cultural difference between Aragon and Castile had been that Aragon looked to the sea and was open to foreign influences through its merchants, while Castile had grown from the mountains of the north and had expanded into the harsh interior and relied on the military qualities. It was the Castilians who dominated Spain, and imposed dictatorship of one kind or another for most of its history.

The detailed history of Aragon and Catalonia can be seen in Norman Davies - Vanished Kingdoms (click on Index).

Languages

Catalan (close to Provençal)

Castilian

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

After years of suppression the area has its own devolved government, the Generalitat based in Barcelona.

How much autonomy has this government? In the past royal and dictatorial Spanish states enforced central power by means of the army. Now the regions appear to be developing genuine autonomy.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Barcelona is the center of one of Spain's most industrially developed areas and has been since the late 19th century. Catalonia trades as much with France as it does with the rest of Spain. There are proposals to build a direct High Speed rail link to France built to the standard European gauge (Spanish railways use a wider gauge than the world standard). It would link with the line already built from Madrid.

Some Catalans believe they could function economically if they separate from Spain (within the Single European Market).

George Orwell - Homage to Catalonia
His experiences in the country during the Spanish Civil War


Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia


Mein Katalonien: Bericht über den Spanischen Bürgerkrieg


Hommage à la Catalogne : 1936-1937

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Bullfighting is to be banned from 2012.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Climate effects

The area is likely to become hotter and drier.

Last revised 21/01/12


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