Catalonia is situated in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The Pyrenees mark its northern border, the eastern border is the Mediterranean Sea, the west borders with Aragon and the south with Valencia.
Catalonia identifies itself as a nation, with this word meaning a geographical and historical area whose inhabitants share a common language and a common culture.
Catalonia used to be a country in its own right. Its history, former political strength and independence are all factors that have contributed to a culture that is quite distinct from others in Spain. Catalan culture is a Mediterranean one, influenced more by the Greek and Roman settlements than by the Moorish heritage in the rest of Spain.
As an autonomous community in the modern political structure of Spain, Catalonia has its own governmental institution, the Generalitat, which is comprised of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat and the Executive Council or Government.
There are two official languages in Catalonia: Catalan, a Romance language derived from Latin, and Castillian or Spanish. With knowledge of French, Italian or Spanish any visitor should find it easy to understand Catalan.
It is well known that Catalonia is of outstanding economic importance to the rest of Spain. With a surface area of 32,000 km2 (an area similar to Belgium), which is equivalent to only 6.3% of the whole of Spain, it nevertheless has 15% of the population (about 6 million inhabitants) and 25% of its industry. In European terms, the economy of Catalonia is larger than that of Portugal or Ireland, and is comparable to the Greek economy. Catalonia is considered to be the "economic motor of Spain" because it played a leading role in the Spanish industrial revolution. Together with Rhone-Alps, Lombardy and Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia is also one of the so-called Four Motors of Europe.
Girona is one of the four provinces that, together with Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida, make up the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. Each province, in turn, is divided into counties. The counties in the province of Girona are: El Gironès, La Selva, El Pla de l'Estany, L'Alt and El Baix Empordà, La Garrotxa, El Ripollès and La Cerdanya. They contain world famous sites.
The Girona coast, extending down through L'Alt and El Baix Empordà, is universally known as the Costa Brava, one of the preferred holiday destinations for tourists from all over the world. Stretching more than two hundred kilometres, its untouched natural areas and botanical gardens alternate with fishing villages and cosmopolitan housing developments. In L'Alt Empordà the Dalí Museum in Figueres is one of Spain's most visited museums, and ancient times are present in Empúries, the site of Roman and Greek remains. Inland there are extremely varied and forested mountains (La Cerdanya), where you can ski in winter, protected natural parks, one of the most important volcanic areas in Europe (La Garrotxa) and a lake that hosted the rowing events of the 1992 Olympic Games (Banyoles, El Pla de l'Estany).
The city of Girona is the capital of the province. It is located in El Gironès, on the banks of the Ter and Onyar rivers. With a population of about 87,000 inhabitants, it is a small city that still conserves the quality of life that has been lost in some larger ones. It is a bustling administrative and university centre, a pole of commercial and cultural attraction, with the highest quality of life in Catalonia and almost all of Spain. It is located in a privileged place, hardly an hour from Barcelona or the French border and about two from the Pyrenees. Founded by the Romans, it is one of the oldest cities in Catalonia with more than 2,000 years of history. European history! Even the Seat of Carlemany (Charlemagne, Karl de Große, Karel de Grote…) is in the Cathedral. But that's not the only treasure in the city. Its exceptional old part is one continuous monument of temples, belfries, houses, palaces and walls, and it contains one of the best-preserved medieval Jewries in Europe.
And those are only some of the reasons that make Girona a great place to be! You will discover the others.
More information (in English and Catalan) about Catalonia in general and the city of Girona can be found at the following URLs: