With a surface area of 32,107 square metres, Catalonia has a very diverse and divided orography, with extensive mountain ranges mirroring the coastline, inland depressions, mountain peaks reaching 3,000 metres high in the Pyrenees, and just 240 metres to the south is a delta that collects the sediments from one of the most abundant rivers of the Iberian peninsula: the Ebro.
The orography itself is notably responsible for the climate. While it can be said that the winters are mild and the summers are hot and dry, the temperatures themselves vary considerably between the coastline and the inland plains and the Pyrenees.
Catalonia has 7,565,603 inhabitants, according to the population census of 2012, after some years of constant growth particularly as a result of foreign immigration. Since the beginning of this century, the population has increased by a million people, situating Catalonia with a growth of 3.4 per thousand, above the average Spanish and European rate. The growth corresponds nearly exactly to the number of foreigners currently living in Catalonia: close to a million.
Migration has made a particular impact on the metropolitan area of Barcelona, which has a population of nearly five million people, over 67% of the population of Catalonia.
Geography has played a favourable role with regard to the economy. Its location in the Peninsula and the Mediterranean has made it a top rank strategic position as a port in the south of Europe, by road transport, motorways and rail transport; by sea, due to port that are constantly growing, and by air, taking advantage of the platform that constitutes the new Terminal T1 in Barcelona airport. The industrial activity has grown particularly in the Barcelona conurbation, but it has also developed in many industrial estates that have grown all over the country.
This set of circumstances has led to strong growth and it has enabled Catalonia to historically become the industrial avant-garde of Spain. Industrial activity is very important for the overall economy of Catalonia, particularly in the chemical, food, energy, metal and transport material sectors. Nevertheless, in recent years, special attention has been paid to logistics and the knowledge economy, an activity that is growing all over Europe. The commitment to new technologies and the audio-visual industry is already giving a distinct personality to the Catalan economy. Another field for which is Barcelona is noted is its business schools, a point of reference all over the world.
In line with this diversification of economic initiatives, the great debate is the reinforcement of infrastructures, particularly with regard to the one known as the Mediterranean Axis, which coming from Algeciras communicates with Europe after passing by the whole Eastern coast of Spain. The Mediterranean Axis will be reinforced with a high speed train, in line with the AVE line that connects with France. The ports of Barcelona and Tarragona are key points of an economic growth strategy that is considered fundamental to guarantee its competitiveness.
In recent years, tourism has increased in such as way that it has become one of the most notable economic activities of Catalonia. This phenomenon has had a particular impact on the consolidation and expansion of commercial activity. The tourist demand has positioned Barcelona port as the leading one in Europe with regard to cruises and over two million people have arrived in Catalonia by this mode.
Catalan culture has developed its own unique and universal identity over the centuries. The innovative flair, creativity, capacity to absorb different influences, co-existence and tolerance values have shaped a culture that is both national and cosmopolitan. Traditionally, art and thought trends seep into Catalonia as a result of the country's geographic location, open to the Mediterranean and European countries, and also due to the leading spirit and attraction created by Barcelona.
Source: Government of Catalonia
- Capital: Barcelona
- Population: 7,448,000 inhabitants (16% of Spain) (2015)
- Population density: 232.0 inh/km2 [89,3 inh/sq mi] (2015)
- Area: 32,107 km2 [12,399 sq mi] (6.2% of Spain)
- GDP: 214,927 million euros (19.9% of Spain) (2016)
- GDP per capita: 28,929 euros (2016)
- GDP growth: +3,4% annually (2016)
- Immigration rate: 14.5% (2014)
- National holiday: Eleventh of September
- Official languages: Catalan, Spanish, and Occitan
- Currency: Euro
- Internet domain: .cat
Last updated: 13 November 2015