Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya, Spanish: Catalu?a, French: Catalogne) is the core region of the area where Catalan is spoken, delimited by the Spanish autonomous region (comunitat aut?noma) of the same name in the north-east of Spain. It covers an area of 31,950 sq. km. with a population of 6.3 million, and its capital is Barcelona.
See comarques of Catalonia for administrative division in comarques (sort of counties).
It constitutes the original nucleus and the most important and extensive territory of Catalan language and culture. The historic region of Catalonia also includes North Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya Nord), a province of France since 1659. The neighbouring Valencia region (Catalan: Val?ncia), the Balearic Islands (Catalan: Illes Balears), Andorra, and an adjacent area of Aragon (informally referred to as la Franja de Ponent) are closely associated with Catalonia historically and linguistically. The whole area is usually referred to as Catalan Countries (Catalan: "Pa?sos Catalans").
The term Catalonia is, however, sometimes used by Catalans to refer to the whole Catalan-speaking area. Then Catalonia is usualy called the Principality (Catalan: "el Principat") or the strict Catalonia (Catalan: "la Catalunya estricta"). This terminology, though, is only used marginaly.
Catalonia's festivals and traditions unify Catalan society and help to give it its particular character. Amongst the most striking of festive events are the correfocs, in which devils play with fire and with the people. These devils are not the incarnation of evil; they are sprightly and festive, dancing to the sound of the tambourine and the traditional oboe, while they set off their fireworks.
But perhaps the most spectacular of the Catalan festivals are those of the colles castelleres, groups of enthusiasts who form impressive human towers (up to nine people high towers). This is an old tradition of the Tarragona region, which has now spread to many parts of Catalonia, and has become a real spectacle, or sport, that attracts thousands of Catalans. Amongst other important festivities are the carnival in Vilanova i la Geltr?[?] and the Patum in Berga.
Then, there is the very special music of the cobles, the wind bands that play sardanes. The sardana[?] is a circular, open dance, that originated in the Empord?[?] region (north of the country by the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees (Catalan Pirineus), and is now danced in many squares and streets. Anyone can join in.
The anthem of Catalonia is "Els Segadors" (The Reapers).