Catalonia: The History and Legacy of Spain's Most Famous Autonomous Community
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1 Hours 48 Minutes
Charles River Editors
Audio Book Summary
Set in the northeastern corner of Spain and nestled next to France is the autonomous region of Catalonia. The name Catalonia is thought to mean the Land of Castellans (castlan means the governor of a castle), while another version of the story suggests that the name actually comes from Gothalanda, or Land of the Goths, who occupied it in the 5th century. More than seeing themselves as Spaniards, Catalonian people see themselves as Catalan first and foremost, and they all are natively fluent in the language, Catalan. This fiercely guarded sense of identity no doubt comes from having been squeezed between the two major empires of France and Spain, as well as having been at the crossroads of those two powers’ violent struggles for centuries.
Shaped like an uneven triangle, Catalonia is comprised of four provinces that occupy an area of 12,390 square miles: Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida. Catalonia also has a variety of different kinds of communities surrounding it, as its northern neighbors include the powerful country of France and the tiny nation of Andorra. To the south it has the autonomous community of Valencia, to the west is the autonomous community of Aragon, and on the east, it borders the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, there are natural boundaries that serve to divide Catalonia from its neighbors, namely the Pyrenees mountains, which separate it from France, and the pre-Pyrenees and the Ebro River basin, which mark its border with Aragon. It is home to several main rivers, including the Ter, Llobregat, and the Ebro, all of which end in the Mediterranean Sea.
After a tumultuous history during which it bounced back and forth in terms of its political status and relationship to Spain’s central government, Catalonia was granted its autonomy on December 18, 1979. In 2006, it came close to acquiring its total independence, but that status is still being hotly contested.