73.2% (5,350,000 people) of the Catalan population aged 2 or more can speak Catalan, and 55.8% can write it. Data from the 2011 census that has been today released by the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat) also show that 95.2% of the Catalan population say they understand Catalan. If compared to the 2001 census, the speakers percentage has suffered a slight decline of one point, down from 74.5%.
Age groups data reveal significant differences. Among those under 25, only 3% do not speak Catalan. Those who can speak the language are 84%, while the remaining 13% understand but are not able to speak it. Meanwhile, among those aged 75 or more, 60% speak Catalan, 30% understand but do not speak it, and the remaining 10% do not understand it.
Nationality also makes notable differences. People who do not have Spanish nationality how less knowledge of Catalan than those holding Spanish citizenship. But data also show a trend towards a greater knowledge of Catalan among foreigners. Thus, in 2001, 61.1% of non-Spanish citizens living in Catalonia said they understood the language, and 27.1% claimed to be able to speak it. In 2011, the figures have gone up to 82.1% and 36.3%, respectively.
Different sources, different figures
Figures published today by Idescat differ from those contained in the Catalan Language Observatory's Report on the situation of Catalan 2012, which was released a few days ago. The Observatory estimates that the inhabitants of Catalonia who can speak Catalan in 2013 are 6,155,000, that is 84.2% of the total population aged 2 and more. This is 800,000 people and eleven percentage points more than the data from Idescat.
According to the Observatory, the number of people who speak the language across the whole Catalan-speaking area is approximately 10.1 million. Those able to understand it reach 12.8 million. In addition to the 6,155,000 Catalan speakers in Catalonia, there are 2,895,000 in the Valencian Country, 777,000 in the Balearic Islands, 142,000 in Northern Catalonia (Catalan territory within the French Republic), 61,000 in Andorra, 42,000 in the Franja (easternmost area of Aragon) and 24,000 in the Sardinian town of Alghero.