The Catalan Countries (in Catalan: Països Catalans, abbreviated to PPCC) are a cultural territory of southwestern Europe where Catalan is the native language and where Catalan culture is autochthonous. Some activists promote the name Catalonia (Catalunya in Catalan) as a desirable synonym for "Catalan Countries" but this is not unanimously accepted, since Catalonia is also the name of one constituent region within the Catalan Countries.
The Catalan Countries are split into several states: Spain, France, Andorra and possibly Italy. They include approximately the following territories:
- In the Spanish state:
- Catalonia in the narrow sense, also called unofficially the Principality (Catalunya, el Principat), an autonomous region whose capital is Barcelona.
- The Western Strip or simply the Strip (la Franja de Ponent, la Franja) in the autonomous region of Aragon.
- The Valencian Country (el País Valencià), an autonomous region whose capital is València.
- The Balearic Islands (les Illes Balears, les Illes), an archipelago and an autonomous region comprising Menorca, Mallorca and Eivissa/Ibiza and whose capital is Palma.
- The Carche (el Carxe), a small area in the autonomous region of Murcia.
- In the French state:
- North Catalonia (Catalunya Nord), that is, the greatest part of the department of the Pyrénées-Orientales, around Perpignan.
- Andorra (Andorra), a sovereign state.
- In the Italian state:
The exact definition of the Catalan Countries varies according to the criteria followed.
According to a strict linguistic criterion, some non-Catalan-speaking areas should not be included in the Catalan Countries. These are:
- Two areas where Occitan is the traditional language instead of Catalan: the Fenouillèdes (in the Pyrénées-Orientales) and Aran Valley (in the official region of Catalonia),
- A large arera where Spanish is the only language, located in the west and the far south of the Valencian Country.
However, according to an administrative criterion, some Catalan activists think that those Occitan- and Spanish-speaking areas should be seen as parts of the Catalan Countries, but not the enclave of Alghero which they consider too remote.
Area and population
The Catalan Countries size 59 671 km² and have 13 422 117 inhabitants according to the strictly linguistic criterion (Catalan-speaking area). They would size 69 823 km² and have 14 157 638 inhabitants if Occitan and Spanish-speaking peripheries were included.
- ↑ The second capital letter in Catalan Countries reflects the native, original form, Països Catalans, which is considered as a proper name in the Catalan language (see Enciclopèdia Catalana, article "Països Catalans"). Standard English does not use a capital on common nouns such as country except when they are included in proper names.
- ↑ Pronounced [pəˈizus kətəˈlans] or regionally [paˈizos kataˈlans].
- ↑ For instance, in Josep Guia's book: És molt senzill, digueu-li Catalunya (1985, Llibres del segle, Collection "Què us diré" 22).
- ↑ In Spain, autonomous regions are officially called "autonomous comunities".
- ↑ Such a view is supported, for instance, by Pol Sureda in the website El Talp.
- ↑ Such a view is supported by the Enciclopèdia Catalana.
- ↑ See Enciclopèdia Catalana, article "Països Catalans".
- ↑ Demographic data of 2008 and 2009.