Catalonia (; Catalan: Catalunya [kətəˈluɲə]; Aranese: Catalonha [kataˈluɲɔ]; Spanish: Cataluña [kataˈluɲa]) is an autonomous community on the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia (with the remainder Roussillon now part of France's Pyrénées-Orientales, Occitanie). It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.
In the late 8th century, the counties of the March of Gothia and the Hispanic March were established by the Frankish kingdom as feudal vassals across and near the eastern Pyrenees as a defensive barrier against Muslim invasions. The eastern counties of these marches were united under the rule of the Frankish vassal, the count of Barcelona, and were later called Catalonia. In the 10th century the County of Barcelona became independent de facto. In 1137, Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon were united by marriage under the Crown of Aragon. The de jure end of Frankish rule was ratified by French and Aragonese monarchs in the Treaty of Corbeil in 1258. The Principality of Catalonia developed its own institutional system, such as courts (parliament), and constitutions, becoming the base for the Crown of Aragon's naval power, trade and expansionism in the Mediterranean. In the later Middle Ages, Catalan literature flourished. During the last Medieval centuries natural disasters, social turmoils and military conflicts affected the Principality. Between 1469 and 1516, the king of Aragon and the queen of Castile married and ruled their realms together, retaining all of their distinct institutions and legislation.
During the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659), Catalonia revolted (1640–1652) against a large and burdensome presence of the royal army in its territory, being briefly proclaimed a republic under French protection. Within a brief period France took full control of Catalonia, until it was largely reconquered by the Spanish army. Under the terms of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the Spanish Crown ceded the northern parts of Catalonia, mostly the County of Roussillon, to France. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), the Crown of Aragon sided against the Bourbon Philip V of Spain; following Catalan defeat on 11 September 1714, Philip V, inspired by the model of France imposed a unifying administration across Spain, enacting the Nueva Planta decrees, suppressing the main Catalan institutions and rights like in the other realms of the Crown of Aragon. This led to the eclipse of Catalan as a language of government and literature, replaced by Spanish. Along the 18th century, Catalonia experienced economic growth, reinforced in the late quarter of the century when the Castile's trade monopoly with American colonies ended.
In the 19th century, Catalonia was severely affected by the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars. In the second third of the century, Catalonia experienced significant industrialisation. As wealth from the industrial expansion grew, Catalonia saw a cultural renaissance coupled with incipient nationalism while several workers movements appeared. In 1914, the four Catalan provinces formed a commonwealth, and with the return of democracy during the Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939), the Generalitat of Catalonia was restored as an autonomous government. After the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist dictatorship enacted repressive measures, abolishing Catalan self-government and banning the official use of the Catalan language again. After a first period of autarky, from the late 1950s through to the 1970s Catalonia saw rapid economic growth, drawing many workers from across Spain, making Barcelona one of Europe's largest industrial metropolitan areas and turning Catalonia into a major tourist destination. Since the Spanish transition to democracy (1975–1982), Catalonia has regained considerable autonomy in political, educational, environmental, and cultural affairs and is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. In the 2010s there has been growing support for Catalan independence.
On 27 October 2017, the Catalan Parliament declared independence from Spain following a disputed referendum. The Spanish Senate voted in favour of enforcing direct rule by removing the entire Catalan government and calling a snap regional election for 21 December. On 2 November of the same year, the Spanish Supreme Court imprisoned seven former ministers of the Catalan government on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds, while several others—including then-President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont—fled to other European countries (such as Belgium, in Puidgemont’s case).