Nation profile

Catalan Countries
Països Catalans

General information
Population
14,475,000 inhabitants (est 2019)
Area
68,151 km²
Institutions
Autonomous governments of Catalonia, Valencian Country, Balearic Islands and Government of Andorra
Major cities
Barcelona, València, Palma, Perpinyà
State administration
Kingdom of Spain (Catalonia, Valencian Country, Balearic Islands and Franja), French Republic (Northern Catalonia) and Principality of Andorra
Territorial languages
Catalan, Occitan (Aran, Fenolheda), Spanish (western counties of the Valencian Country)
Official languages
Catalan (Catalonia, Valencian Country, Balearic Islands, Andorra), Spanish (Catalonia, Valencian Country, Balearic Islands), French (Northern Catalonia)
Major religion
Christianity (Catholicism)

Presentation

The Catalan Countries
are those territories that either are Catalan-speaking or are included in larger political units where Catalan is spoken. Based on political, historical or identity-related features, several main territorial units can be distinguished within the Catalan Countries
typically they are Catalonia, the Valencian Country, each one of the four Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera), the Franja, Andorra and Northern Catalonia. According to some conceptions, El Carxe and L'Alguer can also be added to the list.

Based on the idea of a common linguistic, cultural and historical heritage and an ongoing nation-building process, some sectors of Catalan nationalism argue that the Catalan Countries, as a whole, form one single nation. Other sectors, on the contrary, counter that the Catalan Countries are a linguistic and cultural domain but not one common nation, and advocate instead that at least some of their territories are different nations on their own.

Institutional history

The territorial and institutional formation of the three largest of the Catalan Countries —the Principality of Catalonia, the Kingdom of Valencia and the Kingdom of Mallorca— took place during the Middle Ages. The Principality of Catalonia was established in 1162, after the County of Barcelona had been putting under its control the rest of Catalan counties starting from the 9th century. Military progress of Catalonia and neighboring Kingdom of Aragon —both territories being federated under the Crown of Aragon since 1162— southwards and towards the Mediterranean made it possible to create the Kingdom of Mallorca (1231, corresponding in essence to the Balearic Islands) and the Kingdom of Valencia (1239, approximately the territory of present-day Valencian Country).

As of 1516, the three countries came under Castilian-led Hispanic Monarchy, while maintaining their own institutions even though the new realm initiated a gradual process of centralization.

The Principality of Catalonia briefly seceded from the Hispanic Monarchy, proclaiming itself a republic under French protection, between 1641 and 1652. Catalonia lost its northernmost territories —currently known as Northern Catalonia— to France in 1659. Since 1790 Northern Catalonia constitutes the French Republic’s department of Eastern Pyrenees.


The Spanish War of Succession resulted in the abolition of the Kingdom of Valencia (1707), the Principality of Catalonia (1714) and the Kingdom of Mallorca (1715), all three countries being annexed by the Crown of Castile to form the unitary Kingdom of Spain.

During the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) Catalonia enjoyed a regime of political autonomy (the Generalitat) while the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands drafted preliminary autonomy projects that were not passed because of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

With the start of Francoist dictatorship, the Generalitat moved to exile (France). It was not restored until 1979, four years after Franco died, when a new Catalan Statute of Autonomy was implemented. In 1982, autonomy was also granted to the Valencian Country; in 1983, it was the case for the Balearic Islands.

For its part, the Principality of Andorra was gradually formed during the Middle Ages and eventually became a sovereign state, with the peculiarity that its two heads of state are the president of the French Republic and the bishop of Urgell. In 1993 Andorra approved its own Constitution and became a UN member.

The government of Catalonia held an independence referendum, without the agreement of the Spanish authorities, on 1 October 2017. The vote was marred by Spanish police violence against voters. According to Catalan government official data, turnout stood at 43%, with 92% of voters supporting independence from Spain. Following the vote, the Catalan Parliament proclaimed the Catalan Republic on 27 October, which nevertheless was not implemented. On the same day the Spanish government imposed direct rule on Catalonia, which was enforced until 2 June 2018.

Language

Catalan (traditionally called "Valencian" in Valencia) is the language of most of the territories that make up the Catalan Countries. It is spoken by 9.7 million people within its traditional linguistic domain, and an additional 0.3 million in the rest of the world (2018 estimate). Of these, 4.1 million are first-language speakers (Ethnologue, 2012).

Catalan is the only official language in Andorra, and has co-official status alongside Spanish in Catalonia, the Valencian Country, and the Balearic Islands, where it is one of the languages used as a medium of instruction in schools. Catalan is recognised, but has no official status, in Northern Catalonia, Alghero, and the Franja. It is also one of the co-official languages of the Working Community of the Pyrenees and the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion.

In Catalonia, Occitan is also recognised as a co-official language. It is the language of the Aran Valley, where it is popularly known as “Aranese” and is also used in public education, as well as in the Fenolheda comarca of Northern Catalonia, where it is not official.

In the western regions of the Valencian Country, Spanish is the language traditionally spoken, with different dialectal varieties, some of which show influence from Valencian.

Politics and government

Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands have legislative and executive autonomy within Spain in areas such as education, culture, transport, health, agriculture, industry, environment, tourism, heritage, and civil law. In the case of Catalonia, it also has its own police force. These powers are exercised by the Generalitat de Catalunya (via the Parliament of Catalonia, the Catalan Government and the President, with some executive powers transferred to the General Council of Aran in that Occitan valley), the Generalitat Valenciana (via the Valencian Parliament or Corts Valencianes, the Government or Consell, and the President) and the Government of the Balearic Islands (via the Parliament of the Balearic Islands, the Government, the President, and the Insular Councils of Mallorca, Menorca, Eivissa, and Formentera).

The Franja does not have any institution of its own that brings all its territories together, but five county councils exist with a few supramunicipal executive powers: Ribagorça, Llitera, Baix Cinca, Baix Aragó-Casp, and Matarranya.

The Northern Catalan territory makes up the French department of the Pyrénées-Orientales, governed by a Departmental Council with 34 members, also elected by universal suffrage every six years. It is governed by the Standing Committee, headed by a president. Departments in France have executive powers over matters of social welfare, jobs, libraries and archives, culture and education, urban planning, tourism, and environment, among others.

Andorra has all the powers of an independent state. Its legislative body is the General Council, the executive body is the Government of Andorra, and the judicial body is made up by several courts whose governing body is the Higher Council of Justice.


Territory: CATALONIA
Population: 7,727,029 habitants (2020)
Area: 31,895 km2
Capital: Barcelona
Territorial languages: Catalan on the whole territory except for Occitan-speaking Aran
Official languages: Catalan, Occitan, Spanish
Government: JxCat and ERC
President of the Generalitat: Pere Aragonès, ERC, acting (since 2020)
Political system: autononomous community in the Kingdom of Spain; republic proclaimed in 2017, not implemented
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2017 election), 135 members:
  • Citizens' Party (Ciutadans, C's, pro-autonomy/centralist; centre-right36
  • Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalunya, JxCat, pro-independence, centre to centre-right34
  • Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC, pro-independence, centre-left32
  • Party of the Socialists of Catalonia (Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya, PSC-PSOE, pro-autonomy/federalist, centre to centre-left17
  • Catalunya en Comú-Podemos (CEC-P, federalist/pro-Catalan sovereignty, centre-left to left, greens8
  • Popular Unity Candidacy (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, CUP, pro-independence, left4
  • Popular Party (Partido Popular, PP, pro-autonomy/centralist; centre-right to right4
Electoral system: proportional
Holiday: National Day of Catalonia (11 September)
 
Territory: VALENCIAN COUNTRY
Population5,003,769 (2019)
Area: 23,255 km2
Capital: Valencia
Territorial languagesCatalan (common and popular name "Valencian") in most territory; Spanish in 8 western and southern comarques (counties).
Official languages: Catalan, Spanish
Government: PSPV and Compromís
President of the Generalitat: Ximo Puig, PSPV (since 2015)
Political system: autonomous community in the Kingdom of Spain
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2019 election), 99 members:
  • Socialist Party of the Valencian Country (Partit Socialista del País Valencià, PSPV-PSOE,  pro-autonomy/federalist, centre to  centre-left28
  • Popular Party (Partido Popular, PP, pro-autonomy/centralist; centre-right to right19
  • Compromís (federalist and pro-Valencian sovereignty, centre-left, greens17
  • Citizens' Party (Ciutadans, C's,  pro-autonomy/centralist; centre-right18
  • Vox (centralist/anti-autonomy, far-right) 10
  • Podemos (federalist, centre-left to left8
Electoral system: proportional
Holiday9 October and 25 April
 
Territory: BALEARIC ISLANDS
Population1,149,460 (2019)
Area: 4,492 km² 
Capital: Palma
Territorial language: Catalan
Official languages: Catalan, Spanish
GovernmentPSIB-PSOE, Podem and MÉS
President of the government of the Balearic Islands: Francina Armengol, PSIB (since 2015)
Political system: autonomous community in the Kingdom of Spain
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2019 election), 59 members:
  • Partit Socialista de les Illes Balears (PSIB-PSOE,  pro-autonomy/federalist, centre to centre-left19
  • Popular Party (Partido Popular, PP, pro-autonomy/centralist; centre-right to right16
  • Podem (federalist, centre-left and left6
  • Més per Mallorca i Més per Menorca (MÉS/MpM, pro-islands' sovereignty, centre-left to left6
  • Vox (centralist anti-autonomist, far-right) 3
  • El Pi (pro-autonomy, centre to centre-right) 3
  • Gent per Formentera (GxF, pro-island sovereignty, centre-left1
Electoral system: proportional 
HolidayDay of Mallorca (31 December); Day of Menorca (17 d January); Day of Eivissa (8 August); Day of Formentera (25 July).
 
Territory: NORTHERN CATALONIA
Population: 474,452, including Fenolheda (2017)
Area: 4,116 km² (including Fenolheda)
Capital: Perpinyà
Territorial language: Catalan on the whole territory except for Occitan-speaking Fenolheda
Official languageFrench
Political system: French department of Pyrénées Orientales in the region of Occitania, with no legislative autonomy.
HolidayDay of Northern Catalonia (7 November)
 
Territory: ANDORRA
Population: 76,177 (2018)
Area: 468 km²
Capital: Andorra la Vella
Territorial language: Catalan
Official languageCatalan
GovernmentDA, L'A and CC coalition
President of the government: Xavier Espot, DA (since 2019)
Political system: independent state
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2019 election): 
Democrats for Andorra (Demòcrates per Andorra, DA, centre-right liberal11
Social Democratic Party (Partit Socialdemòcrata, PS, social democrat7
Liberals of Andorra (Liberals d'Andorra, L'A,  centre-right liberal) 4
​Third Way + Lauredian Union (Tercera Via + Unió Laurediana, right-wing conservative) 4
Committed Citizens (Ciutadans Compromesos, CC, centre social-liberal2
Electoral system: combination of proportional and majority
Degree of self-government


(Last updated November 2020.)