I ♥ CATALONIA ®

Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya; Spanish: Cataluña; French: Catalogne) is a nation without own State from 1714 when lost his own institutions and govern rules. The Spanish and the French army finished violently the freedom of the Catalan country rights. Few years after the king of France decided with the full permission of the King of Spain (a French one too) to take one part of the country. Today Catalonia is an occupied country, in the North of the Pyrenées by the French Republic and in the Shout by the Spanish State. Isn't been too much different between the democratic and the dictator ship methodology rules of the occupation and colonization in the both sides. We could even said that the old French democracy is been more repressive, offensive, and effective against the Catalan language, culture, and the Catalan dignity that the non-ending Spanish dictator ships in the Catalan Spanish side or Shout Catalonia.

The side of Catalonia occupied by Spain is delimited by the Spanish autonomous region (comunitat autònoma) of the same name in the north-east of the Spanish state. It covers an area of 31,950 sq. km. with a population of 13,422,117 million, and its capital is Barcelona.It constitutes the original nucleus and the most important and extensive territory of Catalan language and culture.

The historic region of Catalonia also includes North Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya Nord), a province of France since 1659. The neighbouring Valencia region (Catalan: València), the Balearic Islands (Catalan: Illes Balears), Andorra, and an adjacent area of Aragon (informally referred to as la Franja de Ponent) are closely associated with Catalonia historically and linguistically. The whole area is usually referred to as Catalan Countries (Catalan: "Països Catalans").

The term Catalonia is, however, sometimes used by Catalans to refer to the whole Catalan-speaking area. Then Catalonia is usually called the Principality (Catalan: "el Principat") or the strict Catalonia (Catalan: "la Catalunya estricta"). This terminology, though, is only used marginally.

The official name of the Government of Catalonia (including the Council, the Parliament and the President) is Generalitat de Catalunya. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the Council, as if it was the same as Cabinet - however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the (autonomous) Catalan system of government, just like the Portuguese Republic is the (independent) Portuguese system of government.

The region has widespread autonomy and for example its own police force Mossos d'Esquadra, coexisting with the Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional, ruled by the Spanish government.

Unlike the autonomous communities of Navarre and the Basque Country, it lacks its own fiscal system, thus the economic sustainment of the regional administration depends almost entirely on the Spanish government budgets.

See comarques of Catalonia for the administrative division in comarques (roughly equivalent to counties).

The Spanish administrative division includes these 4 provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona.

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Politics of Catalonia

A Catalan nationalist movement arose in the nineteenth century, and when the Spanish Republic was declared in 1931, Catalonia became an autonomous region. In 1939 Francisco Franco came to power and suppressed Catalan autonomy, and tried also to suppress the Catalan language and Catalan culture. During the last decade of Franco's rule renewed nationalist sentiment built up in Catalonia.

In 1975 Franco died and democracy was restored soon after. Once again Catalonia became an autonomous region within Spain. The Catalan nationalist leader Jordi Pujol came to power in the first regional elections in 1980, and his party, Convergence and Unity (Convergència i Unió or CiU), held power for 23 years.

Despite his radical background, Pujol became increasingly conservative in office, and supported Jose Maria Aznar's conservative People's Party (PP) government in Madrid. Nationalist sentiment became increasingly dissatisfied with his rule. At the same time, the Catalan Socialists' Party (Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya, PSC), based in the industrial heartland of Barcelona, regained its strength.

One of the keys to Catalan politics is the fact that Barcelona, because it attracts migrants from all over Spain and from Latin America, is a majority Spanish-speaking city, particularly in working-class areas, while the rural regions remain solidly Catalan-speaking. The Socialists have become the party of those who resent the dominance of middle-class Catalan nationalists over Barcelona.

At the regional elections held on November 16 2003, at which Pujol retired, the combined parties of the left defeated the CiU for the first time, and Pasqual Maragall i Mira became President of the Generalitat. Maragall's Socialists, however, actually lost seats: the big winners were the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya or ERC), which favours full Catalan independence, and the Greens. Carod-Rovira, ERC's leader, is the conseller en cap (prime minister) of the Catalan Government.

Maragall's government will thus be an uncomfortable alliance between the PSC and the ERC, because the ERC favours more left-wing policies and progress towards Catalan independence, both of which the PSC opposes.

Parties

* CiU - Convergència i Unió (Convergence and Unity)
* ERC - Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia)
* IV-EA - Iniciativa Verds-Esquerra Alternativa (Green Initiative-Left Alternative)
* PP - Partit Popular (People's Party)
* PSC - Partit Socialista de Catalunya (Socialist Party of Catalonia)
* CUP - Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (Popular Unity Candidature)
*RCat - Reagrupament Independentista( independentist party)


Geography

The Spanish autonomous comunity of Catalonia borders on Valencia to the south, Aragon to the west, France and Andorra to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east and southeast.

Mountains:

* Catalan Pyrenees: Val d'Aran in the north face, Pica d'Estats 3141 m., Puigmal 2911 m., Cerdanya depression, Perthus pass (near the ancient Roman road).
* Catalan Litoral mountains: Montseny, Montserrat, Montsant.
* Iberic system: Maestrat.

Major rivers:

* Fluvià
* Ter
* Llobregat
* Foix
* Francolí
* Gaià
* Ebre and its tributaries: Noguera, Segre, Valira.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Catalonia

* Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, Tarragona
* Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
* Parc Güell, Barcelona
* Palau Güell, Barcelona
* Casa Milà, Barcelona
* Poblet Monastery, Poblet, Tarragona province
* Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona
* Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

See also:

* Famous Catalan People
* Cuisine of Catalonia

Traditions

Catalonia's festivals and traditions unify Catalan society and help to give it its particular character. Amongst the most striking of festive events are the correfocs, in which "devils" play with fire and with the people. These devils are not the incarnation of evil; they are sprightly and festive, dancing to the sound of the tambourine and the traditional oboe, while they set off their fireworks.

But perhaps the most spectacular of the Catalan festivals are those of the colles castelleres, groups of enthusiasts who form impressive human towers (up to nine people high towers). This is an old tradition of the Tarragona region, which has now spread to many parts of Catalonia, and has become a real spectacle, or sport, that attracts thousands of Catalans. Amongst other important festivities are the carnival in Vilanova i la Geltrú and the Patum in Berga.

Then, there is the very special music of the cobles, the wind bands that play sardanes. The sardana is a circular, open dance, that originated in the Empordà region (north of the country by the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees (Catalan Pirineus), and is now danced in many squares and streets. Anyone can join in.

The anthem of Catalonia is "Els Segadors" (The Reapers). National day is September 11, after the defeat and surrender of Barcelona to the French-Castilian army of Philip V of Spain.

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