Catalonia – An Introduction

Catalonia is home to 7.5 million citizens and has its own regional government, the Generalitat. It also has its own language, Catalonia, cultural traditions and the country’s second-biggest city, Barcelona. But it pays tax to Madrid, and pro-independence politicians argue that complex mechanisms for redistributing tax revenue are unfair on wealthier areas.

Here are some statistics:

7.5 mil: The population of Catalonia makes up 16.1% of Spain’s 46.6 million


7.5 mil:    The population of Catalonia makes up 16.1% of Spain’s 46.6 million
95 %:         Proportion of the population that understand Catalan, the region’s primary language. An estimated 10 million speak Catalan worldwide – primarily in Catalonia, the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands and France
9th:            Catalan’s ranking on the list of the most widely spoken languages in Europe. It is not, however, on the EU’s list of 24 official languages
€209bn:  GDP of Catalonia in 2014. Spain’s was €1 trillion
€65.1bn:  Annual exports of Catalonia to other countries (double that of any other Spanish region)
13.2 %:      Unemployment rate of Catalonia in June 2017 is below the national average of 17.2 %
8 %:            Amount of GDP the Catalan Government has said it would claw back if it didn’t have to hand over its taxes to the Spanish Government


Prior to the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 39) the region was given broad autonomy, but this was rolled back under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Catalonia had regained autonomy after General Franco’s death in 1975, then secured enhanced judiciary and taxation powers following a landmark vote in 2006 However, in July 2010 Spain’s constitutional court ruled that references to Catalonia as a nation had “no legal validity”