- History & Culture
Why Spain’s wealthiest region wants independence
Catalonia has its own cultural identity and a robust separatist movement, despite crackdowns from Madrid.
An autonomous region in northeastern Spain with its own linguistic and cultural identity, Catalonia is a popular tourist destination and economic powerhouse. But its recent struggle for an independent nation of its own reflects its distinctive history within Spain.
People have lived in what is now Catalonia since prehistory, when a society of chieftain-led Iberian tribes emerged. In the sixth century B.C., Greek colonists arrived; around 220 B.C., the Romans took over. Roman rule brought advances in agriculture and infrastructure, the Latin language flourished, and Romans founded Barcino, which became the region’s largest city and current capital, Barcelona. Tarraco (now known as Tarragona) became one of the Roman Empire’s richest cities during this time.
As the Roman Empire foundered in the