History of Catalonia
Catalonia is a distinct region in north-eastern Spain that was originally known as the county of Barcelona in the 11th century.
It came under the control of the kingdom of Aragon in the 12th century. It was included in the territory of Spain when Queen Isabella of Castile married King Francis of Aragon in the 15th century. Thereafter there was a phase of greater integration with Spain, with Castilian the dominant language in Spain also gaining importance over the local language Catalan.
In the 19th century there was a reawakening of Catalan identity and when Spain became a republic in 1931 Catalonia received more autonomy. Catalonia was a region that supported the Republicansduring the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) until General Francisco Franco’s right-wing troops overran the city of Barcelona, defeating the resistance to his rule. During General Franco’s regime Catalonia’s autonomy was done away with, the nationalist sentiment of the region actively suppressed, and the then Catalan President LluísCompanys executed. Around 200,000 Catalans went into exile during Franco’s rule.
After General Franco died, JosepTarradellas, who had been elected Catalan President in exile, returned to Spain. An autonomous government was established which had limited powers according to the 1979 Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia. In the latter half of the 20th century and in the 21st century, movements for greater autonomy and even independence for Catalonia have become more strident.
Relations between Catalonia and Spain
Relations between Catalonia and Spain are not at their best at present.Catalonia is the richest and most highly industrialized region in Spain.Catalonia has its own executive and parliament – collectively known as the “Generalitat” and a good deal of autonomy under the Spanish constitution. However, the economic crisis in Spain has led many Catalans to believe that their region sends more money to the Spanish capital than it receives from the Spanish government.
Reasons for the Referendum on Independence vote:
Catalonia as a region has always had a distinctive language, culture, identity and an urge to govern itself. While the region has some autonomy under the present Spanish constitution, it has attempted to gain greater autonomy in the past. Earlier in 2006, a referendum was held in Catalonia about modifying the present statue of autonomy. The referendum was agreed upon in Catalonia and even passed by the Spanish government, but was changed by a disputed court ruling in 2010. Many Catalans feel the power equation between Spain and their region needs to be reset. As many as 80% of Catalans have expressed the view in opinion polls that a referendum on self-determination needs to be held.
The economic implications for Spain:
Catalonia is the richest and most highly industrialized region in Spain. Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia attracts numerous tourists year-round and is a cultural hub in Europe.
Catalonia has a vibrant manufacturing sector with textiles, food processing, chemicals, and metalwork contributing significantly to the Spanish economy. Tourism is a major part of the Catalonian economy with popular beach destinations on the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, as well as hiking and camping options in the Pyrenees. The loss of revenue from these sectorsas well as the services sector will have a negative impact on Spain’s already struggling economy.
Economic: Should Catalonia be successful in gaining independence, it may be able to survive economically, however Spain would be negatively affected.
Political: Other separatist movements across Europe and in other parts of the world would be in interested in following Catalonia’s example of seeking independence via the referendum route.
Catalonia Independence Referendum
On October 1, 2017, millions of Catalans took part in a referendum on the independence of Catalonia from Spain. The referendum, which was opposed by the government of Spain, witnessed violence as the Spanish police attacked the voters trying to take part in the referendum. Still, the referendum witnessed a 42.3 percent turnout with with around 2.26 million out of the 5.34 million voters taking part in the referendum. Of those who took part in the referendum, around 90 percent voted to breakaway from Spain. While Carles Puigdemont, President of Catalonia, stated that Catalonia had earned the right to become an independent state, Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, blamed the government of Catalonia for the unrest.
Facts about Catalonia
|Official Languages||Catalan, Spanish, and Aranese|
|Flag||Also called la Senyera, the flag has been an official symbol since 1932|
|National Day (La Diada)||Eleventh of September. It commemorates the defeat during the War of the Spanish Succession at the Siege of Barcelona in 1714|
|Anthem||ElsSegadors written by EmiliGuanyavents|
|Administrative divisions||Four provinces – Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona|
|Lat Long||41°49′N 1°28′E|
|Area||12,399 sq mi (32,114 km²)|
|Official languages||Spanish, Catalan and Aranese|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)
Summer (DST- CEST (UTC+2)
|Area code||+34 97- (Catalonia); +34 93 (Barcelona)|
List of Administrative Divisions of Catalonia
|Name||Population Est. 2017||Area (Miles)|