Països Catalans

Països Catalans

The Catalan term "Països Catalans" (often translated into English as "Catalan Countries") refers to the territories of Catalan language. [" [ The Catalan Countries] ". "Grup Enciclopèdia Catalana". Accessed: 13 February 2008]

There is no universal territorial definition of the "Països Catalans". It may refer strictly to the territories in which the varieties of Catalan are traditionally spoken, or the entire political entities in which Catalan has some official status, in spite of the fact that those entities include areas where Catalan is not actually spoken (the map to the right covers this latter usage).

Different meanings

"Països Catalans" is a polysemic expression and so it has different meanings depending on the context. These can be roughly classified in two groups: linguistic or political, the political definition of the concept being the widest, since it also encompasses the linguistic side of it.

As a linguistic term, "Països Catalans" is used in a similar fashion to the English Anglosphere, the French Francophonie, the Portuguese Lusofonia or the Spanish Hispanophonie.

As a political term it refers to a number of political projects [ [ The Catalan Countries Project] ] as advocated by Catalan independentism. These, based on the linguistic fact, argue for the existence of a common national identity that would surpass the limits of each territory covered by this concept and would apply also to the remaining ones. These movements advocate for "political collaboration" [ [ Statutes of Valencian Nationalist Bloc] ] amongst these territories. This often stands for their union and political independence [ [ Political project of Republican Left of Catalonia] ] . As a consequence of the opposition these political projects have received –notably in some of the territories described by this concept [ [ El Gobierno valenciano, indignado por la pancarta de 'països catalans' exhibida en el Camp Nou - españa - ] ] – some cultural institutions avoid the usage of "Països Catalans" in some contexts, as a means to prevent any political interpretation; in these cases, equivalent expressions (such as "Catalan-speaking countries") or others (such as "the linguistic domain of Catalan language") are used instead. [ [ Ramon Llull Institute official web page] ]

Component Regions

Catalan is spoken in:
* the Spanish autonomous communities of
**Catalonia —even though in the "comarca" of Val d'Aran Occitan is considered the language proper to that territory—
***"La Franja de Ponent" ("The Western Strip") a Catalan-speaking area in the Spanish autonomous community of Aragon;
**the Balearic Islands and
**as Valencian, in the Valencian Community, with the exception of some western "comarcas" where Spanish is the only language spoken;
***El Carxe, a small Valencian-speaking area in the Spanish autonomous community of Murcia;
*Andorra, a European microstate;
* most of the French department of the Pyrénées-Orientales, also called "le Pays Catalan" ("Catalan Country") in French or "Catalunya (del) Nord" ("Northern Catalonia") in Catalan;
* the Italian city of Alghero, in the island of Sardinia, where a variant of Catalan is spoken.

Catalan is the official language of Andorra, co-official with Spanish and Occitan in Catalonia, co-official with Spanish in the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community —with the denomination of Valencian in the latter— and co-official with Italian in the city of Alghero. It is also part of the recognized minority languages of Italy along with Sardinian, also spoken in Alghero. It is not official in Aragon, Murcia or the Pyrénées-Orientales, even though, recently, the General Council of Pyrénées-Orientales officially recognized Catalan, along with French, as language of the department, on December 10, 2007 [ [ Charte en faveur du Catalan] ] .

Trans-regional cultural collaboration

There are several endeavors and collaborations amongst some of the diverse government and cultural institutions involved. One such case is the Ramon Llull Institute, founded in 2002 by the Government of the Balearic Islands and the government of Catalonia. Its main objective is to promote Catalan language and culture abroad in all its variants, as well as the works of writers, artists, scientists and researchers of the regions which are part of it. While having participated with the government of Andorra—most notably in the Frankfurt Book Fair of 2007—the Institute is nowadays undergoing a process of restructuring in order to formally incorporate it in the organization. [ [ Press note on the agreement between the governments of Andorra, Balears and Catalonia] ] . Another relevant example is the Joan Lluís Vives Institute, a collaborative network constituted by universities in the Catalan linguistic domain.


The term is controversial because many non-Catalans see the concept of the "Països Catalans" as regional exceptionalism, counterpoised to a centralizing Spanish and French national identity. Others see it as an attempt by a Catalonia proper centered nationalism to lay a hegemonic claim to Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and the historically Catalan regions in southern France.

In large areas included in the territories designated by some as "Països Catalans", Catalan nationalist sentiment is uncommon or nonexistent. In the case of the Valencian Community, "Esquerra Repúblicana del País Valencià" (ERPV) is the most relevant party explicitly supportive of the idea but, despite participating in elections in a number of Valencian cities, its representation is limited to a total of five city councilors in the municipalities of Sueca, Vall de Laguar, Simat de la Valldigna and Xixona; at the regional level, it has run twice (2003 and 2007) in the regional Parliament election, receiving less than 0.50% of the total votes [ [ Results of the 2007 elections to the Valencian regional Parliament] ] (other minor political parties supportive of the concept have achieved so far well below results than those of ERPV). This notwithstanding, some of the most vocal defenders or promoters of the Catalan Countries concept (such as Joan Fuster, Josep Guia or Vicent Partal) were Valencian.

The subject became very controversial during the politically agitated Spanish Transition in what was to become the Valencian Community, especially in and around the city of Valencia, by the late 70s and early 80s when the Spanish Autonomous Communities system was taking shape, the controversy had reached its height. Various Valencian right wing politicians (originally from Unión de Centro Democrático) fearing what was seen as an annexation attempt from Catalonia, fueled a violent Anti-Catalanist campaign against local supporters of the concept of the "Països Catalans", which even included a handful of unsuccessful attacks with explosives against authors perceived as flagships of the concept, such as Joan Fuster or Manuel Sanchis i Guarner. The concept's revival during this period was behind the formation of the fiercely opposed and staunch anti-Catalan blaverist movement, led by Unió Valenciana, which, in turn, significantly diminished during the 90s and the 2000s as the "Països Catalans" controversy slowly disappeared from the Valencian political arena.

This confrontation between politicians from Catalonia and Valencia very much diminished in severity during the course of the late 1980s and, especially, the 1990s as the Valencian Community's regional government became consolidated. Since then, the topic has lost most of its controversial potential, even though occasional clashes may appear from time to time, such as controversies regarding the broadcasting of Catalan television in Valencia —and vice versa— or the usage by Catalan official institutions of terms which are perceived in Valencia as Catalan nationalistic, such as "Països Catalans" or "País Valencià" ("Valencian Country").

:"See also political issue surrounding Valencian"

Legal frame

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 contains a clause forbidding the formation of federations amongst Autonomous Communities [ [ the Spanish Constitution of 1978 in English] ] . Therefore, if the case was that the "Països Catalans" idea gained a majority democratic support in future elections, a constitutional amendment would still be needed for those parts of the "Països Catalans" lying in Spain to create a common legal representative body.

Nonetheless, in the addenda to the Constitution there is a clause allowing an exception to this rule in the case of Navarre, which can join the Autonomous community of the Basque Country should the people choose to do so.

History and evolution of the name. Alternate names

The term "Països Catalans" was first documented in "Historia del Derecho en Cataluña, Mallorca y Valencia. Código de las Costumbres de Tortosa, I" (History of the Law in Catalonia, Majorca and Valencia. Code of the Customs of Tortosa , I) written by the Valencian Law historian Bienvenido Oliver i Esteller.

The term was both challenged and reinforced by the use of the term "Occitan Countries" from the Oficina de Relacions Meridionals (Office of Southern relationships) in Barcelona by 1933. Another proposal which enjoyed some popularity during the Renaixença was "Pàtria llemosina" (Llemosine Motherland), proposed by Victor Balaguer as a federation of Catalan-speaking provinces; both these coinages were based on the theory that Catalan is a dialect of Occitan.

None of these names reached widespread cultural usage and the term nearly vanished until it was rediscovered, redefined and put in the center of the identitary cultural debate by Valencian writer Joan Fuster. In his book "Nosaltres els valencians" ("We, the Valencians", published in 1962) a new political interpretation of the concept was introduced; from the original, meaning roughly "Catalan speaking territories", Fuster developed a political inference closely associated to Catalan nationalism. This new approach would refer to the Catalan Countries as a more or less unitary nation with a shared culture which had been divided by the course of history, but which should logically be politically reunited. Fuster's preference for "Països Catalans" gained popularity, and previous unsuccessful proposals such as "Comunitat Catalànica" ("Catalanic Community") or "Bacàvia" [ [ Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua ] ] (after Balearics-Catalonia-Valencia) diminished in use.

Today the term is politically charged, and tends to be closely associated with Catalan nationalism and Catalan independentism. The idea of uniting these territories in an independent state is supported by a number of political parties, being the most important in terms of representation ERC. Other groups with no representation in the relative regional parliaments, such as ERPV, PSAN, Estat Català, CUP also support this idea to a greater or lesser extent.

:"See also Catalan language history"

ee also

* Gate of the Catalan Countries
* Military history of Catalonia
* Muixeranga, proposed hymnFact|date=December 2007 for the Catalan Countries.
* Nationalities in Spain


*Pere Grau, "El panoccitanisme dels anys trenta: l’intent de construir un projecte comú entre Catalans i occitans". "El contemporani", 14 (gener-maig 1998), p. 29-35.
*Francesc Pérez Moragón, "El valencianisme i el fet dels Països Catalans (1930–1936)", "L'Espill", núm. 18 (tardor 1983), p. 57-82.
*Jordi Ventura, "Sobre els precedents del terme "Països Catalans", dins "Debat sobre els Països Catalans", Barcelona: Curial…, 1977. p.347-359.
*Enric Prat de la Riba, Greater Catalonia. ( [ Online in Catalan] )
*Joan Fuster, Qüestió de noms. ( [ Online in Catalan] )
*Josep Guia, "És molt senzill, digueu-li "Catalunya", Llibres del segle. Col·lecció "Què us diré", 22. ISBN 978-84-920952-8-5 ( [ Online in Catalan - PDF] )

Footnotes and External links

* "Catalan Countries" in the English version of the "Catalan [ Hiperencyclopedia] ".
* [ Lletra. Catalan Literature Online]
* [ The Spirit of Catalonia] . 1946 book by Oxford Professor Dr. Josep Trueta

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