|Salvador Dalí · Pau Casals · Antoni Gaudí · Jacint Verdaguer|
|Over 7.8 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Catalans are the people from, or with origins in Catalonia, an Autonomous Community in Spain. The inhabitants of the adjacent portion of southern France –known in Catalonia proper as Catalunya Nord, and in France as the Pays Catalan– are often included in this definition.
The other Catalan-speaking peoples, namely Andorrans, Valencians, Balearics and some Aragonese are rarely mentioned by some sources as being part of a so-called Catalan ethnic group. These sources are typically related to Catalan nationalism, including reference works such as a widespread Catalan encyclopedia.
In the mentioned territories (often designed as Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries" by Catalan nationalism), this extended concept is unpopular. Even within Catalan nationalism, or within Catalonia in general, the usage of such extended concept is marginal; even those associations working for closing ties between the various Catalan speakers often do not support or even refuse explicitly that the Catalan speakers from outside Catalonia proper should be called Catalans.
The earliest reference to Catalans (Catalanenses), treated as a people group, is found in the Latin Liber maiolichinus, an Italian epic poem of c.1120. This also contains the earliest reference to Catalonia (Catalania) as the name for their homeland.
The area that is now Catalonia was invaded in 1500 BCE by Proto-Celtic Urnfield people who brought the rite of burning the dead. These Indo-European people were replaced by the Iberians beginning in 600 BCE in a process that would not complete until the fourth century BCE. These groups came under the rule of various invading groups starting with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, who set up colonies along the coast, including Barcino (present-day Barcelona) itself. Following the Punic Wars, the Romans replaced the Carthaginians as the dominant power in Catalonia by 206 BCE. Rome established Latin as the official language and imparted a distinctly Roman culture upon the local population, which merged with Roman colonists from the Italian peninsula. An early precursor to the Catalan language began to develop from a local form of popular Latin before and during the collapse of the Roman Empire. Various Germanic tribes arrived following nearly six centuries of Roman rule, which had completely transformed the area into the Roman province of Tarraconensis. The Visigoths established themselves in the 5th century CE and would rule the area until 718 when Muslim Arabs and Berbers conquered the region and held it for close to a century. The Franks held back small Muslim raiding parties which had penetrated virtually unchallenged as far as central France; Frankish suzerainty extended over much of present-day Catalonia. Larger wars with the Muslims began with the Spanish March which led to the beginnings of the reconquista (reconquest) by Catalonian forces over most of Catalonia by the year 801. It was during this period that a Catalan national identity fully emerged as Barcelona became an important center for Christian forces in the Iberian peninsula.
Catalonia emerged from the conflicts in Muslim Spain as a regional power, as Christian rulers entrenched themselves in the region during the Carolingian period. Rulers such as Wilfred the Hairy became masters of a larger territory encompassing Catalonia. The Crown of Aragon included Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. The marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon and the conquest of the last Muslim kingdom of Granada in 1492 tied Catalonia politically to the fate of the new Spanish kingdom, while a regional culture continued to survive and thrive.
Some sporadic regional unrest led to conflicts such as the Revolt of the Germanies in Valencia and Majorca, and the 1640 revolt in Catalonia known as the Reapers' War. This latter conflict embroiled Spain in a larger war with France as many Catalan nobles allied themselves with Louis XIII. The war continued until 1659 and ended with the Peace of the Pyrenees which effectively partitioned Catalonia as the northern strip of the March came under French rule, while the rest remained under Spanish hegemony. Still restive under Spanish rule, most Catalans took sides for the Habsburg pretender against the Bourbon one during the War of the Spanish Succession that started in 1705 and ended in 1714. The Catalan failure to defend the perpetuation of Habsburg dynasty in Spain culminated in the surrender of Barcelona on September 11, 1714, which came to be commemorated as Catalonia's national day.
During the Napoleonic Wars, much of Catalonia was seized by French forces by 1808 as France ruled the entire region briefly until Napoleon's surrender to Allied Armies. In France, strong assimilationist policies integrated many Catalans into French society, while in Spain a Catalan identity was increasingly suppressed in favor of a national identity. The Catalans regained autonomy during the Spanish Second Republic from 1932 until Francisco Franco's nationalist forces retook Catalonia by 1939. It was not until 1975 and the death of Franco that the Catalans began to fully regain their right to their cultural expression, which was established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Since this period, a balance between a sense of local identity versus the broader Spanish one has emerged as the dominant political force in Catalonia. The former tends to advocate for even greater autonomy and/or independence; the latter tends to argue for maintaining the status quo. As a result, there tends to be much fluctuation depending on regional and national politics during a given election cycle. Given the stronger centralist tendencies in France, however, French Catalans display a much less dynamic sense of uniqueness, having been integrated more consistently into the unitary French national identity.
The vast majority of Catalans reside in the autonomous community of Catalonia, within Spain. At least 100,000 Catalan speakers live in the pays catalan in France. An indeterminate number of Catalans emigrated to the Americas during the Spanish colonial period and in the years following the Spanish Civil War. The largest concentration of Catalans established themselves in Argentina, Chile, Cuba and Puerto Rico, as well as pockets of settlements throughout Latin America.
Described by author Walter Starkie in The Road to Santiago as a subtle people, he sums up their national character with a local term seny (pronounced [ˈseɲ]) meaning common sense or a pragmatic attitude towards life. The masia or mas is a defining characteristic of the Catalonian countryside and includes a large house, land, cattle, and an extended family, but this tradition is in decline as the nuclear family has largely replaced the extended family, as in the rest of western Europe. Catalans in Spain are recognised as a "nationality" and enjoy a high degree of political autonomy, leading to reinforcement of a Catalan identity.
The Catalan language is a Romance language of the Gallo-Iberian group. It is the language closest to Occitan, as well as sharing many features with other Italo-Western languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Aragonese. There are a number of linguistic varieties that are considered dialects of Catalan; among them, the dialect group with more speakers is the one called Central Catalan.
The number of Catalan speakers is over 7 million, but very few Catalan monoglots exist; basically, virtually all of the Catalan speakers in Spain are bilingual speakers of Catalan and Spanish, with a sizeable population of Spanish-only speakers of immigrant origin (typically born outside Catalonia or with both parents born outside Catalonia) existing in the major Catalan urban areas as well. In the Roussillon, nowadays only a minority of the French Catalans do speak Catalan, being French the majority language after a continued process of language shift.
In September 2005, the .cat TLD, the first Internet language-based top-level domain, was approved for all webpages intending to serve the needs of the Catalan linguistic and cultural community on the Internet. This community is made up of those who use the Catalan language for their online communications or promote the different aspects of Catalan culture online.
The traditional clothes (now, practically only used in folkloric celebrations) included the barretina and the faixa among men and ret among women. The traditional footwear was the espardenya.
The Catalan diet is part of the Mediterranean diet. They fry with olive oil, and milk is widely consumed. Catalan people eat more poultry than red meat, and like to eat veal (vedella) and mutton (xai).
There are three main daily meals:
In Catalan gastronomy, embotits (a wide variety of Catalan sausages) are very important; these are pork sausages such as botifarra or fuet. In the past, bread (similar to French bread) figured heavily in the Catalan diet; now it is used mainly in the morning (second breakfast, especially among young students and some workers) and supplements the noon meal, at home and in restaurants. Bread is still popular among Catalans; some Catalan fast-food restaurants don't serve hamburgers but offer a wide variety of sandwiches.
One type of Catalan dish is escudella soup which contains chick peas, potatoes, and vegetables such as green cabbage, celery, carrots, turnips, and meats like botifarra (a Catalan sausage), pork feet, salted ham, chicken, and veal. In Northern Catalonia, it's sometimes called ollada.
Catalan music has one of the oldest documented musical traditions in Europe.
Catalonia is one of the richest and most well developed regions in Southern Europe. Barcelona is among the most industrialized metropolises and is both a regional capital and a magnet for various migrants from other regions in Spain as well as from foreign countries.
Catalan people have made numerous cultural contributions, from art and architecture to film and science.
Still, for a majority of Catalans, Catalan identity is not viewed as necessarily being mutually exclusive with the Spanish one; a large majority of people feel both Catalan and Spanish. Comparable examples exist in other large European states with strong regional identities, such as Bavaria within Germany or Sicily within Italy. In contrast, the situation in France has been sharply different as French policies have completed a more through assimilation of the French Catalans into de French Republic. This has reduced the number of citizens who identify themselves as Catalans within France.