Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya; Spanish: Cataluña) is an autonomous community of Spain, designated a “nationality” by its Statute of Autonomy. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, and the centre of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia, with the remainder now part of France. Catalonia borders France and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish regions of Aragon and the Valencian Community to west and south respectively. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish and Aranese (an Occitan dialect).
Despite the repression and the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars, Catalonia experienced economic growth and industrialization. During the second half of the 19th century, the region saw a cultural renaissance coupled with incipient nationalism, while several workers movements appeared. In 1913, the four Catalan provinces formed a Commonwealth, and with the advent of democracy during the Second Spanish Republic39), the Generalitat of Catalonia was restored. During the 1950s and 1960s, Catalonia saw significant economic growth and became an important tourist destination, drawing many workers from across Spain.
Since the Spanish transition to democracy (1975–82) Catalonia has recovered political and cultural autonomy and is now one of the most economically dynamic regions of Spain. The Catalan government has announced its intention to hold a referendum on possible independence from Spain in 2014.
The Costa Brava (“Wild” or “Rough Coast”) is a coastal region of northeastern Spain, consisting of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva, in the province of Girona. The Costa Brava stretches from Blanes, 60 km (37 mi) northeast of Barcelona, to the French border.
In the 1950s, the Costa Brava was identified by the Spanish government and local entrepreneurs as being suitable for substantial development as a holiday destination. The combination of a very good summer climate, nature, excellent beaches and a favourable foreign exchange rate, which made Spain a relatively inexpensive tourist destination. Tourism rapidly took over from fishing as the principal business of the area.