Catalunya (Spain)

Location of Catalonia (dark green)

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green)
– in Spain (dark & medium green)

Map of Catalonia in Europe

Location of Catalonia (red) in Spain

Map of Catalonia in Spain

FlagSenyera

Capital
and largest city
Barcelona
41°23′N 2°11′E
Provinces BarcelonaGironaLleidaTarragona
Area
 • Total 32,108 km2 (12,397 sq mi)
Area rank 6th in Spain
Population (2012)
 • Total 7,565,603
 • Rank 2nd in Spain (16%)
 • Density 240/km2 (610/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Area code +34 93 (Barcelona area)
+34 97- (rest of Catalonia)
Website gencat.cat

Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain, located on the northeastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula. It is 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 seventh-most populous urban area in the European Union.

Catalonia comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia, with the remainder now part of France’s Pyrénées-Orientales. It is bordered by France 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.


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. The inland part (including the Lleida province and the inner part of Barcelona province) show a mostly Mediterranean climate. The Pyrenean peaks have a continental or even Alpine climate at the highest summits, while the valleys have a maritime or oceanic climate sub-type.
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 (record from −36 °C), along the Segre and in other river valleys.


Topography

Catalonia has a marked geographical diversity, if we consider 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 Ebre.

Flora and fauna

Catalonia is a showcase of European landscapes on a small scale. Just over 30,000 square kilometers 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 consists broadly of a combination of a minority of animals endemic from thid land and the majority of animals which are also present in other places. 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.


Transport

Airports

Ports

The ports of Barcelona and Tarragona are the two main commercial and passenger ports in Catalonia, both owned and operated by Puertos del Estado (a Spanish Government entity).

Roads

There are 12,000 kilometres (7,500 mi) of roads throughout Catalonia.

The principal highways are  AP-7  Spain traffic signal r200.svg (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  Spain traffic signal r200.svg (Autopista del Nord-est) and  A-2  (Autovia del Nord-est) connect inland and onward to Madrid.

Railways


Culture

Art and architecture

Catalonia has given the world many important figures in the area of the art. Catalan painters internationally known are 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 Ramon Casas, Josep Maria Subirachs and Marià Fortuny.
In the area 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. There are some examples of Renaissance architecture, Baroque and Neoclassical. Modernism (Art Nouveau) in the late nineteenth century appears as the national art. The world-renowned Catalan architects of this style are Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. In the field of architectural rationalism, highlighting Josep Lluís Sert and Torres Clavé.
There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia:

Literature

There are two historical moments of splendor of Catalan literature. The first begins with the historiography chronicles of the thirteenth century and the subsequent Golden Age of the fourteenth century. The second moment of splendor began in the nineteenth century with the cultural and political Renaixença (Renaissance) represented by writers and poets such as Jacint VerdaguerNarcís OllerJoan Maragall and Àngel Guimerà. During the twentieth century were developed the avant-garde movements represented by Josep CarnerCarles RibaJ.V. Foix and others. During the Civil War and the Francoist period the most prominent authors were Josep PlaMercè Rodoreda and Salvador Espriu.

After the transition to democracy (1975–1978) and the restoration of the Generalitat (1980), 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 BrossaAgustí BartraManuel de PedroloPere Calders or Quim Monzó.

Music and dance

The sardana is considered the most characteristic Catalan popular dance, other groups also practice Ball de bastonsmoixigangagalops or 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. Other music styles born during the 20th century are Catalan rumbaCatalan rock and Nova Cançó.

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.

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 the southern part of Catalonia, mainly on the regions of Penedès and 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.

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.

Cuisine

Catalan gastronomy has a long culinary tradition. Its culinary processes are described in documents since the fifteenth century. As all the cuisines of the Mediterranean, makes abundant use of fish, seafood, olive oil, bread and vegetables. The specialties are numerous and include the pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), which consists of bread, sometimes toasted, with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt and usually served accompanied with any sorts of sausages (cured botifarres, fuet, iberic ham, etc.), ham or cheeses. Others are the calçotadaescudella i carn d’ollasuquet de peix (fish stew) and, as dessert, the Catalan cream.

Wine land, the Catalan vineyard has several Denominacions d’Origen such as Priorat, Montsant, Penedès and Empordà, and also found there a sparkling, the cava.

Catalonia is also internationally recognized for its high cuisine, including restaurants like El Bulli or Can Roca, who regularly dominate international rankings.