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Difference between Spain and Catalonia

Difference between Spain and Catalonia

Flag of Spain and Catalonia

Spain – officially the Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España) is a sovereign state in the South-West of Europe. It is one of the members of the European Union and NATO. Spain occupies the largest part (80%) of the Iberian Peninsula as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands with a total area of 504,782 km² (together with small sovereign territories on the African coast: the two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla). Spain is the fourth largest country in Europe (after Russia, Ukraine and France). It is a polyethnic country. The territory is divided into 17 autonomous communities.

Capital city – Madrid.

Population – 45.9 million people (2016)

Language: The official language is Spanish (Castilian). In the autonomous regions, along with the official Spanish,  there are other languages such as:

  • Catalan, Valencian and Balearic in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands
  • Basque in the Basque Country and Navarre
  • Galician in Galicia

Languages in Spain without official status:

  • Aragonese
  • Extremadura
  • Occitan (Aranese)
  • dialect of Fala

During the Franco regime, the ethnic minorities were subjected to violent assimilation. But despite of the violence, the languages of these minorities have not disappeared and nowadays they are experiencing the real revival.

Religious composition: Spain is a secular state. Its Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Most of the population are Christians and belong to the Roman Catholic Church (75%).

There are also other influential religious groups in Spain, such as

  • Muslims (The predominant direction is Sunnism, approx. 1 million)
  • Religious Jews (15 thousand)
  • Buddhists (47 thousand)
  • Hindus (45 thousand)
  • Supporters of the Chinese people’s religion and Afro-Brazilian religion “Makumba”

In the last decade, the number of non-religious people has increased noticeably. In a poll conducted by the Center for Sociological Research in June 2015, 25.4% of respondents stated their non-religiosity (including 9.5% – convinced atheists and 15.9% – non-believers).

National holiday: The National Day of Spain is celebrated annually on October 12 (the date of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus).

Government structure: Spain is a constitutional monarchy. The fundamental law of the state is the Constitution adopted in 1978. The head of state is the king, now – Philip VI. Executive power is headed by the Prime Minister – leader of the party with the most votes in parliamentary elections.

Catalonia (Comunitat Autònoma de Catalunya) is an autonomous community of Spain, and it is located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula between the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees.

Area – 32,114 km2.

Capital city – Barcelona.

Population – 7 512 381 people

Official languages:  Catalan, Spanish, Occitan (Aranese). Most of the inhabitants of Catalonia speak both Spanish and Catalan. Catalan is an independent language belonging to the languages of the Romance group. Although it has much in common with Spanish,  its closest relative is Provencal language of southern France.

National holiday:  the National Day of Catalonia (Cat. Diada Nacional de Catalunya) is celebrated Every year on September 11 as a commemoration of the anniversary of the end of the siege of Barcelona (1714). Each city annually celebrates the holiday festa major – the day of its patron saints. It is their tradition to build high “human castles” during the holidays by the teams of “castellers”.

Separatist movement: In recent years, the separatist movements in Catalonia have been greatly developed. Historically, having a strong national identity, Catalonia at various times tried to proclaim (restore) its independence from Spain. Its struggle brought the following results: autonomy, official status of the Catalan language and recognition of the Catalans as  nationals.

 Independence referendum: The holding of a referendum on separation was banned by the Spanish Parliament on April 13, 2014. A poll of citizens on this topic was held on November 9, 2014 (BBC News). More than 80% of citizens voted for independence with a turnout of 2.25 million people. On October 1, 2017, authorities unilaterally held a referendum on independence, in which 90% of the participants voted in favor of the secession of Catalonia (Minder, 2017).

There is a big difference between Spain and Catalonia especially culture, language, work ethics, and social activities. Spanish and Catalan cuisine also have some minor variations. Catalan cuisine differs from Spanish due to the influence of French cuisine and the proximity to the ocean.

What are the differences between  Spain  and  Catalonia?  Recent Spain Catalonia Conflict:

  • Spain is a sovereign state while Catalonia is its autonomous community.
  • Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, while Madrid is the capital of Spain.
  • The main difference between the two cities is in their styles and architecture: traditional Style (Barcelona) and modern style (Madrid).
  • Catalan refers to the Romance languages, as well as Spanish, but is not a dialect of Spanish.
  • Catalan is more like French and Italian than Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Spain is famous for its chorizo sausages (smoked sausages made from pork) and paella while Catalonia is best known for “butifarra” (pork sausages with cinnamon) and “fideua” (noodles with green onions).
  • The Catalans are usually considered hardworking, striving for success, people with business thinking while the Spaniards are considered cheerful, responsive people, entertainment seekers. Although it is considered this way, but cannot be true in all cases.
political status Capital city First official language Famous dishes National holiday Tradition/festival
Spain Sovereign state Madrid Spanish chorizo sausages, paella, etc. The National Day of Spain (October 12) Bullfighting (corrida de toros)
Catalonia Autonomous  community Barcelona Catalan Butifarra, fideua National Day of Catalonia (September 11) Building the “human castle”, the figure of  “Caganer “

Thus, the main difference lies in their cultural perception. This can be seen when comparing two events of a national scale that shed light on the cultural differences between them. Bullfighting is still highly valued in Spain as a pattern of concentration. It shows the Power and Struggle. Catalans have strong tradition of building “human castles” and it shows the importance of teamwork.

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  1. It’s like asking what’s the difference between California and the USA. Catalonia is a part of Spain like any other region. It has its unique features but so do all of Spain’s regions. There are as many Catalans against independence as for it and there is no majority supporting independence. Catalonia is bitterly divided on this issue.

    • Another big difference: Spain, unlike Catalonia and the Basque country, has strong north african, muslim influences.
      Moreover, Spain has a colonial past; millions of Latin Americans moved to Spain!
      Is Spain after all a european country??!!

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References :

[0]BBC NEWS (2014 ) Catalonia vote: 80% back independence – officials http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29982960

[1]Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (2015) BARÓMETRO DE JUNIO 2015. Estudio N. 3101 CIS http://datos.cis.es/pdf/Es3101mar_A.pdf

[2]Minder, R. (2017) Catalonia Leaders Seek to Make Independence Referendum Binding https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/world/europe/catalonia-spain-independence-referendum.html

[3]Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Spain_and_Catalonia.png

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