Catalonia, which makes up one-fifth of the Spanish economy, is deciding soon if it really wants to say good-bye to Spain for good.
Tensions in Spain are higher than they’ve been in decades, as the region that’s home to one of the country’s largest cities is considering breaking away.
Catalonia, in Spain's northeastern corner, has been living with relative autonomy for the last nearly half a century. But now, there's a real chance that it will declare it's time to split with Spain — and take Barcelona with it.
Chris Mcgrath / Getty Images
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
By the time King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella married in 1469, uniting the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon into what would become modern Spain, Catalonia had been a part of Aragon for over three hundred years.
But the Catalans had their own language, own customs, and own history, and their union with Aragon afforded them a degree of separation from the rest of Spain. But as the Spanish kingdom consolidated, and after a bit of messy drama involving the Habsburg dynasty and the now-ruling Bourbon dynasty, Aragon's autonomy — including that of Barcelona and Catalonia more broadly — was negated.
Catalan culture and independence would decline until an upswell of nationalism became all the rage in Europe during the nineteenth century. In 1922, the Estat Catal party became the first nationalist movement in modern Spanish politics.