Catalonia, Catalan Catalunya [kətə lu ɲ ə], Spanish Cataluña [kata lu ɲ a], an autonomous region in northeastern Spain, includes the province of Girona, including the Spanish enclave of Llívia in the Pyrenees, Lleida, Barcelona and Tarragona with a total of 32,113 km 2 and (2020) 7.8 million residents; The capital is Barcelona.

Historically and linguistically (Catalan language and literature), Catalonia goes beyond its present-day borders. The residents are the Catalans.

Catalonia is part of the eastern Pyrenees (Puigmal 2,913 m above sea level, Pica d’Estats 3 143 m above sea level), the Ebro basin in the Segre river area, the Catalan foothills, and the long Catalan valley, which is divided into basins, into a higher one Inland chain (Montseny 1 741 m above sea level, Montserrat 1 241 m above sea level, Montsant 1 071 m above sea level) and a lower coastal chain is divided, as well as on the Mediterranean coast (Costa Brava, Costa Dorada).

The Catalan foothills are among other things. broken through by the rivers Ter, Llobregat and Ebro in partly narrow rocky valleys; Stone and cork oak forests, in the basins cultivation of grain and new potatoes. The Catalan part of the Ebro Basin is dry (400 mm annual rainfall) and partly steppe-like, in the rest of Catalonia higher rainfall (800–1 200 mm).


Small and medium-sized holdings are predominant; Viticulture, tree and shrub cultures (olives, almonds, hazelnuts, figs) and irrigation cultures (vegetables, flowers) are widespread on the rivers and in the coastal plain; pig, cattle and poultry farming are pronounced. Potash salts are the main sources of mineral resources.

The relatively highly developed economy of the oldest industrial area on the Iberian Peninsula developed from the 2nd half of the 18th century with cotton and sheep wool processing (based on the English model), local entrepreneurship and brisk merchant shipping. Today it is concentrated around Barcelona, ​​which is also the intellectual and cultural center of Catalonia, with a focus on the textile, chemical / pharmaceutical, printing / paper, electrical industry, machine and vehicle construction, metal processing (import of raw materials) and the processing of agricultural products.

With the economic opening of Spain since 1959, foreign capital and workers from all parts of the country poured into Catalonia. As a result of the international economic and financial crisis, however, the region’s debt increased dramatically from 2008 and the unemployment rate rose to 23.4% (2013), but was reduced again to 17.5% by 2016. In 2014, 1.5% of employees were employed in the primary, 24.4% in the secondary and 74.1% in the tertiary sector. Tourism plays an important role with 17.3 million foreign visitors per year (2015). The most popular destinations are Barcelona and the Costa Brava.


The Phoenicians already had trade relations with the area around the mouth of the Ebro, which was then populated by Iberians; later the coastal area was in the sphere of influence of Carthage. In the course of the 2nd Punic War, towards the end of the 3rd century BC. BC Rome dominated, in AD 19 the country came to the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis, of which it formed northeast. During the Migration Period, the area was occupied by the Alans in 409 and the Visigoths in 415. From 711 the Arabs conquered the southern part of Catalonia. Charlemagne created here from 785 (801 conquest of Barcelona) a number of counties (later called “Spanish Mark”) as a bulwark against the Arabs, which became more and more independent in the 9th and 10th centuries, despite formally existing feudal ties to the Frankish kings At the end of the 10th century, the counts of the House of Barcelona, ​​who had been largely independent since the late 9th century, de facto broke away from the West Franconian kingship. In 1137 the county of Barcelona was united with the Kingdom of Aragon through marriage. The Catalan-Aragonese dual state (“Crown of Catalonia-Aragon”) expanded considerably in the following centuries (Aragon, Story); it was dynastically linked to Castile for the first time from 1479 (until 1504), from 1516 in personal union. The Catalan political institutions were retained. In the middle of the 17th century there was considerable unrest which, after French interference with the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659), resulted in the loss of Catalan territories to France (Roussillon, parts of Cerdagne). In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), the Catalans relied on the Austrian (Habsburg) pretender to the throne, Karl, but the European political situation brought the Bourbon Philip V to Madrid . to the throne, who conquered Barcelona on September 11, 1714, abolished the independent Catalan institutions and introduced a centralized regime. In the 19th century, in the course of the industrial and economic boom, a new cultural and political self-confidence (»Catalan renaissance«) awoke, and efforts to achieve autonomy or full independence increased, especially as the heavily industrialized area also had an economic and commercial policy Contrasted with the rest of Spain.

In the course of the transformation of Spain into a republic, Catalonia received its own (initially provisional) government (“Generalitat de Catalunya”) on April 21, 1931 and a statute of autonomy on September 9, 1932. After the victory of the “Esquerra Republicana” (left), its leader, Francesc Macià, became president of the “Generalitat”. He was followed at the end of 1933 by Lluís Companys, who on October 6, 1934, after the electoral victory of the Spanish right, proclaimed the independence of Catalonia and was then arrested. The statute of autonomy, which had been temporarily suspended (since December 1934), came into force again with the renewed election victory of the left (February 1936) and Companysbecame president again. In the Spanish Civil War the Generalitat stood on the side of the republic. After the victory of the anti-republican forces under General F. Franco, the latter repealed the Statute of Autonomy on April 5, 1939.

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