Why Catalonia matters to Spain: the numbers

Why Catalonia matters to Spain: the numbers

28th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Pro-independence parties won an absolute majority of seats in Catalonia's parliament in a regional election on Sunday which they framed as a plebiscite on secession from Spain.

Catalonia is one of Spain's most economically important regions. This is why:

IT IS SPAIN'S SECOND-BIGGEST REGION

Catalonia is home to 7.5 million of Spain's nearly 47 million people, making it the second biggest region after Andalusia in the south with 8.4 million. Nearly 73 percent of Catalonia's inhabitants speak Catalan and around 15 percent are foreigners.

IT IS RICH

Catalonia accounted for 19 percent of Spain's gross domestic product (GDP) last year, or nearly 200 billion euros ($224 billion), making it the country's richest region.

Its GDP per capita has fallen slightly since the economic crisis erupted in 2008, but remains higher than the national average: just under 27,000 euros last year, according to the National Statistics Institute.

IT HAS BIG BUSINESSES

Over 586,000 companies are based in Catalonia, most of them small and medium-sized businesses. It is home to nearly 2,150 bigger firms employing more than 200 people, such as clothes giant Mango and Gas Natural. Volkswagen has a factory in the region where it makes vehicles under its Seat brand.

IT GETS MASSES OF TOURISTS

With its capital Barcelona and Mediterranean beaches, Catalonia draws more foreign tourists than any other Spanish region. Just over 16.8 million foreigners visited last year, one quarter of Spain's total.

IT EXPORTS AND DRAWS INVESTMENT

Catalonia accounted for 25 percent of all Spanish exports last year, according to the economy ministry. Since 2011 it has exported more products abroad than to the rest of Spain.

It received 17 percent of total foreign investment in Spain last year, some 2.9 billion euros. That figure was down by nearly 16 percent from 2013 but picked up again in the first half of 2015.

IT HAS BIG DEBTS

Catalonia is the third most indebted of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions. Its debt in the second quarter of 2015 was equivalent to nearly a third of its GDP, according to the Bank of Spain.

IT HAS RELATIVELY LOW UNEMPLOYMENT

The unemployment rate in Catalonia in the second quarter of 2015 stood at 19.1 percent, extremely high but below Spain's national average of 22.4 percent.

IT HAS MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE

Catalonia's capital Barcelona is home to Spain's second busiest airport, with 37.6 million passengers last year, second only to Madrid.

Its port is the nation's third busiest after Algeciras and Valencia, according to the World Shipping Council.

IT HAS POWERFUL SEPARATIST PARTIES

The "Together for a Yes" joint list, uniting regional president Artur Mas's conservative CDC party with left-wing and civil groups, won 62 seats in the regional assembly in Sunday's election and the radical left-wing separatist group CUP won 10.

That gives them a joint total of 72 seats, above the 68 needed for an absolute majority in the 135-seat regional parliament.

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© 2015 AFP

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