Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Catalonia (Sp. Cataluna), an old province of Spain and principality of the kingdom of Aragon, occupies the N.E. angle of the Peninsula, being bounded on the north by the Pyrenees, on the east by the Mediterranean, on the west by Aragon, and on the south by Valencia, and having an area of 12,483 square miles, with a coast-line of 240 miles. Much of the surface is occupied by offshoots of the Pyrenees, and the Sierra Llena cuts the district in two. The chief rivers are the Ebro, the Ter, and the Llobregat. Though the soil is light, the climate moist, hot, and variable, and the differences of altitude very great, vegetation is luxuriant, nuts, oranges, wine, figs, almonds, olive oil, cork, and esparto being exported largely. Meadows are rare, and therefore few cattle are reared, but numbers of sheep find pasturage on the mountains. Cereals are not sufficient for home consumption. The coast, though deficient in harbours, abounds with fish. The mineral resources are but imperfectly developed. There are manufactories of cotton, silk, and woollen goods, cordage, brandy, paper, and fire-arms. Barcelona, the capital, does a great trade with England, France, Italy, and the Spanish colonies, and distributes imports all over Spain. Catalonia is now divided into the provinces of Barcelona, Tarragona, Lerida, and Gerona. The chief towns are Tortosa, Gerona, Figueras, Lerida, Manresa, Rosas, Matara, and Tarragona, the three last being ports. The province, under the name of Hispania Tarraconensis, was the earliest Roman conquest in Spain. The Goths became its masters in the fifth century, and were succeeded by the Moors 300 years later. In 788 a dynasty of French counts under Charlemagne was established and soon became independent. By the marriage of Raymond with Petronilla of Aragon in 1137 the province was united to the latter kingdom. It was not till 1714 that, after many struggles, Catalonia was finally incorporated with Spain.

The inhabitants of Catalonia belong almost more to the Provencal (South French), than to the Castilian (Central Spanish), group of Latin peoples. They are of a vivacious, sanguine temperament, more refined and less cruel than the average Spaniard, although charged with a certain rough and even haughty bearing, due doubtless to the long enjoyment of civic rights and self-government. They are rather below the middle height (5 feet 4 or 5 inches), of bronze or swarthy complexion, with black, brown, or chestnut hair, bright deep-set eyes, large but not aquiline nose, broad prominent brow, and fine teeth. Their restless enterprising spirit, even at an early date, impelling them to distant voyages beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, is, so to say, recorded in the famous Catalan map of 1375, one of the oldest and best charts of the then known world preserved from medieeval times. Even still the Catalonians are great emigrants, not only to Madrid and other parts of the peninsula, but also to Algeria and Spanish America. The vigorous and poetic Catalonian language stands quite apart from the other Spanish idioms, and betrays many direct relations with the Langue d'Oc of Southern France. It is current not only in Catalonia but throughout Valencia and the Balearic Isles, and in parts of Roussillon and Sardinia. Although now vielding to the standard Spanish, it is still the speech of about 3,000,000 inhabitants of the peninsula, forming the important Catalan section of the Spanish nation. Like "Welsh, it has its periodical literature, religious publications, and "eisteddfods."