Over 7 Million.
|Regions with significant populations
|Spain: 6,858,000 
France: 100,000 
Andorra: 31,000 
Italy: 20,000 
Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, other parts of Latin America and some parts of USA like Miami and California.
|Catalan, Castilian; French, Occitan, Italian, Sardinian.
|Roman Catholicism, Atheism, Agnosticism.
|Related ethnic groups
|Other Spanish peoples, other Latin peoples.
The Catalans are an ethnic group or nation whose homeland is Catalonia, or the Principality of Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya, or Principat de Catalunya), which is a historical region in southern Europe, embracing a territory situated in the north-east of Spain and an adjoining portion of southern France. It is divided between the autonomous communities of Catalonia and Aragon (in a borderland called La Franja) in Spain, and Northern Catalonia in France (due to the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659). In addition, there are other adjacent and nearby Mediterranean areas which are home to the Catalans. These areas include: Andorra, a small historical country in the Pyrenees, the Land of Valencia, the Balearic Islands and El Carxe (a Catalan-speaking region of Murcia) in Spain as a result of the Reconquista and the city of L'Alguer in the Italian island of Sardinia due to the Catalan rule of the Mediterranean during the ages of the Crown of Aragon. All these territories make up what is known as the Catalan Countries. Most are Catalan language speakers, and today virtually all of them also speak the official language of their respective states.
 Historical background
The history of Catalonia entails major events that have shaped the western Mediterranean and local histories that often overlap with those of modern Spain and France. The area that is now Catalonia was inhabited by early Iberian peoples and later Celts who morphed into a localized variant known as Celtiberians by the 8th 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 and established Latin as the official language and imparted a distinctly Roman culture upon the local population that merged with Roman colonists from the Italian peninsula. An early precursor to the Catalan language began to develop from a local vulgarized form of 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 Arab-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 and Frankish suzerainty became established 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 of 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 as with the 1640 revolt by the Catalans known as the Reapers' War. This 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 tip of the March came under French rule, while the rest remained under Spanish hegemony. Still restive under Spanish rule, the Catalans rebelled against Bourbon rule during the War of the Spanish Succession that started in 1705 and ended in 1714. The Catalan failure to defend the perpetuation of Habsburgian 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 1813 as France ruled the entire region briefly until driven out by British and Spanish armies in 1814. Catalan uprisings continued throughout the 19th century to no avail. 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 a national identity, which was established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Since this period, Catalan nationalism has emerged as a political force mainly in Spain that seeks to attain ever greater autonomy and/or independence for Catalans in Spain and France and total political control of the principality of Andorra.
The vast majority of Catalans reside in Spain, where they number over 6,500,000. At least 100,000 Catalan speakers live in France, while over 31,000 live in Andorra and 20,000 in Italy (principally in Sardinia). An indeterminate number of Catalans emigrated to the Americas during the height of the Spanish Empire with important colonies establishing themselves in Chile, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, as well as throughout mainland Latin America. 
 Culture and society
The Catalans continue to exhibit a distinct culture shaped by a history often set apart from their neighbors and due to their interaction with both France and the rest of Spain. 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 senh) 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 begun to replace the old ways. While Catalans in Spain have attained the right to speak their ancestral language and declare themselves a distinct people, the situation in France has been drastically different as French policies have favored assimilating the Catalans which has reduced the number of citizens who still identify themselves as such within the French Republic. The tiny state of Andorra is the only country where Catalan is the only official language (although Spanish and/or French is also universally spoken).
The Catalan language is a Romance language of the Iberian group. It shares many features with other Iberian languages such as Castilian and Portuguese and some with French and Italian, and is the language nearest to Occitan. Apart from the most spoken dialect, Central Catalan, there are some other varieties (which some, under political motivations, have considered separate languages) notably: Valencian, North-Western Catalan and Balearic. The number of Catalan speakers is well over 7 million, but exact figures are difficult to obtain - especially for those in France who speak Catalan only as their second language. Catalan is the official language of Andorra. It is co-official in the Spanish Autonomous Communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia, in the latter under the name of Valencian. It has no official status in Northern Catalonia, La Franja and El Carxe.
 Traditional clothes
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.
 Traditional diet
The Catalan diet is part of the Mediterranean diet. They fry with olive oil. Milk is widely consumed, especially cows' milk. Catalan people eat fowl more than the red meat of the English diet, and like to eat young cows (vedella), sheep (xai) and no bulls. The digestion of the English diet used to be considered hard by the Catalan people.
There are three main daily meals:
- In the morning: a very light breakfast, consisting of fruit or fruit juice, milk, coffee or pa amb tomàquet "bread with tomato". Although it's considered less consistent than the British breakfast, Catalan breakfast are also important; people tend to divide its breakfast into two parts: one early in the mornig, before going to work or study (first breakfast), and the other one between 10:00 and 12:00 (second breakfast).
- After noon (roughly from 13:00 to 14:30): the main meal of the day. Usually three dishes: the first consisting of pasta or vegetables, the second of meat or fish and the third of fruit or yogurt. It is usual to drink moderate quantities of wine.
- In the evening (roughly from 21:00 to 22:30): more food than in the morning but less than at lunch. Very often only a single big dish and fruit.
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 a wide variety of sandwiches.
In the past, the poor ate soup each day and rice on Thursday and Sunday.
The taboo of not eating meat during Lent was once very strong but has practically disappeared in the 20th century.
Spicy food is rare in the Catalan diet but there are quite spicy sauces such as allioli or romesco.
 Traditional dishes
One type of Catalan dish is escudella soup, which contains chick peas, potatoes, and vegetables such as green cabbage, celery, carrot and turnip, and meats like botifarra (a Catalan sausage), pork feet, salted ham, chicken and veal, among others. In Northern Catalonia it's sometimes called ollada.
Other Catalan dishes are: calçots (similar to leeks, and often eaten with a romesco sauce), and escalivada.
The majority of Catalans are of Roman Catholic tradition, while significant numbers of Catalans profess either no religion or appear to be atheists and agnostics.
 Social conditions
Catalonia has traditionally been one of the richest and most well developed regions of Spain. Barcelona is the most industrialized metropolis and is both a regional capital and a magnet for various migrants from other regions in Spain as well as foreign immigrants. Catalan people have made numerous contributions from art and architecture to film and science.
 Identity and nationalism
Due to the continued identification with a distinct national identity, many support Catalan nationalism or Catalan independentism in Spain and, to a lesser extent, in France.
 See also
- Balcells, Albert et. al. Catalan Nationalism : Past and Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 1995).
- Collier, Basil. Catalan France (J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1939).
- Conversi, Daniele. The Basques, the Catalans and Spain: Alternative Routes to Nationalist Mobilization (University of Nevada Press, 1997).
- Guibernau, Montserrat. Catalan Nationalism: Francoism, Transition and Democracy (Routledge, 2004).
- Hargreaves, John. Freedom for Catalonia?: Catalan Nationalism, Spanish Identity and the Barcelona Olympic Games (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
- Simonis, Damien. Lonely Planet Catalunya & the Costa Brava (Lonely Planet Publications, 2003).
- Starkie, Walter. The Road to Santiago (John Murray, 2003).
- Michelin THE GREEN GUIDE France (Michelin Travel Publications, 2000).
 Online references