Catalonia is an area along the eastern-most region in Spain, housing 7.5 million residents, and accounts for 19% of Spain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). You may have heard a passing mention of Catalonia, but you definitely know its capital: Barcelona. Catalonia was, at one point, its own nation, with its own culture. Starting with the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, a handful of battles, wars, revolts, revolutions, even momentary annexation from Napoleon, Catalonia began integrating with Spain.
Throughout most of its association with Madrid, Catalonia was given autonomy, with the exception of the tyrant dictator General Francisco Franco, who murdered thousands and terrified millions of Catalans during his reign. “Catalonia was treated little differently during the Spanish civil war when Barcelona was bombed by Franco’s rebel air force, killing 1,300,” writes Geoff Cowling. “Catalonia’s elected President Lluís Companys was forced to flee into France. He was extradited by Franco and shot in 1940 at Montjuic Castle overlooking Barcelona.” After Franco died in 1975, Catalonia adopted the Spanish Constitution in 1978, integrating with Spain while maintaining cultural individualism.