Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, the most northeasterly corner of Spain, neighboring France. The region is divided into four provinces, named after their provincial capitals: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona.
POLITICS AND SOCIETY
Catalonia is governed by the Generalitat, housed in the Palau de la Generalitat in the centre of the Old Town and on the site of the Roman forum. The region’s parliament is located in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The city of Barcelona has a independent administration, and its town hall, the Casa de la Ciutat, faces the Generalitat across the Plaça de Sant Jaume.
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
Catalan is Catalonia’s official language, spoken by some eight million people. It has always been a household language and it continues to be spoken in the home. All public signs and official documents in Catalonia are in Spanish and Catalan. Catalans are conservative and, as in many other countries, people in countryside areas are more conservative than those in the cities.
FAMILY AND CULTURE
Catalans stay true to their ethnicity and their families. Sunday lunch is a time to get together, although even during the week, most people who can do so return home for lunch. This creates a rush hour four times a day, with a lull in the early afternoon.