Catalonia was an independent region of the Iberian Peninsula – modern day Spain and Portugal – with its own language, laws and customs.
In 1150, the marriage of Petronilia, Queen of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona formed a dynasty leaving their son to inherit all territories concerning the region of Aragon and Catalonia.
This lasted until the reign of King Philip V. The War of the Spanish Succession ended with the defeat of Valencia in 1707, of Catalonia in 1714, and finally with the last of the islands in 1715 – resulting in the birth of modern-day Spain.
Subsequent kings tried to impose the Spanish language and laws on the region, but they abandoned their attempts in 1931 and restored the Generalitat (the national Catalan government).
General Francisco Franco, however, set out to destroy Catalan separatism and with his victory at the Battle of Ebro in 1938 he took control of the region, killing 3,500 people and forcing many more into exile.
The region was granted a degree of autonomy once more in 1977, when democracy returned to the country.
Why Independence from Spain:
1. Calls for complete independence grew steadily until July 2010, when the Constitutional Court in Madrid overruled part of the 2006 autonomy statute, stating that there is no legal basis for recognising Catalonia as a nation within Spain.
2. The economic crisis in Spain magnify calls for Catalan independence – as the wealthy Barcelona region is seen as propping up the poorer rest of Spain.
3. The conservative Popular Party of Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, is only the fifth-largest party in Catalonia, and is strongly opposed to any moves for independence for the region.
4. The Catalan region has long been the industrial heartland of Spain – first for its maritime power and trade in goods such as textiles, but recently for finance, services and hi-tech companies.
5. It is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain - it accounts for 19 per cent of Spain’s GDP,
6. Catalonia's contribution to the Spanish economy is twice that of Scotland’s to the UK.
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