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Welcome to Catalonia!

Catalonia (or Catalunya) is a nation that covers an area of 32,000 km² in the northeast of Spain. It has borders with France and Andorra to the north, Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south, while its eastern side is delimited by the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to almost 580 kilometres of coastline, Catalonia has extensive mountainous areas, such as the Pyrenees, the Pyrenean foothills, the Transversal range and the central depression. Its climate consequently varies, depending on the terrain. The coastal area has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Further inland, the climate is more continental, with cold winters and very hot summers. Snowy winters and mild temperatures in summer are features of the climate high in the mountains to the north.

Catalonia currently has more than seven million inhabitants, distributed among 946 municipalities. In terms of administration, the territory is divided up in two ways. Firstly, there are the divisions established by the Catalan authorities, consisting of 41 regions (called comarques in Catalan, the local language). Secondly, there are the administrative divisions established by the Spanish government, consisting of 4 provinces, namely Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. The city of Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia.

Catalan society and culture have developed on the basis of exchanges of ideas, customs and people, due to a long history of migrations and trade with other cultures and nations, a consequence of its location in the Mediterranean. Catalan society has a deep-rooted regard for its institutions, its culture, its language (Catalan) and its traditions. The Catalan language is a fundamental element of the Catalan identity and has been vital as regards social cohesion. It is for that reason that it is important for all newcomers to learn Catalan, so as to be able to communicate in the authentic language of their host country, as well as to make it easier to get to know their new surroundings and to become independent in different aspects of life, such as work, relationships and citizen participation.

The people of Catalonia have a great tradition of forming and belonging to associations, something that is one of the cornerstones of our civil society. There are recreational associations, associations that advocate human and social rights, associations of neighbours, cultural and sports associations, etc. The Generalitat de Catalunya (a term often used to refer to just the Catalan government) is the system under which Catalan self-government is politically organised. It comprises the Parliament, which has 135 members, the president and the government, all of whom are elected by universal suffrage every four years.

Catalonia has a prosperous economy. Its primary sector is somewhat insignificant, although it has very strong subsectors that compete throughout the world, such as cava, wine, livestock, meat products and sweet fruits. The Catalan economy also boasts a significant level of industrial activity in sectors such as automobiles and accessories, chemicals, food and the manufacture of electrical household appliances and state-of-the-art computer and office IT equipment. The publishing industry and construction are also of crucial importance. Tourism and its associated business areas are a particularly notable element of the tertiary sector.

Catalonia is a country with a clear international outlook. The majority of its work in other countries takes place in Europe, where, as a member of the Committee of the Regions and other European bodies, it contributes to strengthening the role of local and regional organisations. Additionally, Catalan civil society is highly involved in international cooperation with the most disadvantaged countries.

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Video: © Agencia Catalana de Turisme

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