Northern Catalonia

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The Canigou (2785 m) seen from near Perpignan

Northern Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya Nord, French: Catalogne Nord) is a name that sometimes is used, mainly in Catalan writings, to refer to the territory given to France by Spain in 1659. The area corresponds approximately to the modern French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The French name, Catalogne Nord, is used nowadays, although less often than the more politically neutral Roussillon (in reference to the pre-Revolutionary province). Sometimes French Catalonia is also used.

Geography[change | change source]

Northern Catalonia forms a triangle between the Pyrenees to the south, the Corbières to the north-west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. The Plain of Roussillon in the east, by far the area where more people live, is formed by the floodplains of the Tech, Têt and Agly rivers (Catalan: Tec, Tet, Aglí). The districts of Vallespir and Conflent cover the upper valleys of the Tech and the Têt respectively. The mountain Le Canigou (Catalan: Canigó), 2,784 m (9,134 ft), dominates much of the territory.

The climate is of the Mediterranean type, with hot, dry summers and winters which are relatively mild, at least on the Roussillon plain where snow is rare.[1]

More of a quarter of the population of Northern Catalonia is in the city of Perpignan (Catalan: Perpinyà).[2] Perpignan is the only important administrative and service centre. Roads and trains run north–south through Northern Catalonia between France and Spain.

Languages[change | change source]

French is the only official language in France as whole and in these municipalities. Catalan, in its Northern Catalan variety, is recognized as a regional language only by the region of Languedoc-Roussilon. It is estimated to be spoken by a quarter of the population,[3] but understood by a higher percentage.

In 1700, the government of Louis XIV prohibited the use of the Catalan language in official documents.[4]

In the 1950s, after centuries of being forbidden in education, the Catalan language was permitted to be studied for one hour per week in secondary school. In the 1970s, the Arrels Association and Bressola network of private schools started to offer complete bilingual French/Catalan classes from nursery up to secondary education.[5]

On December 10, 2007, the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales recognized Catalan as one of the languages of the department, alongside French and Occitan (in Fenouillèdes),[6] with the goal to further promote it in public life and education.

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

Coordinates: 42°38′N 2°40′E / 42.633°N 2.667°E / 42.633; 2.667