Catalans


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Catalans

 

a nationality living in eastern Spain, primarily in Catalonia but also in Aragón and Valencia and on the Balearic and Pine islands. The population in Spain is more than 5.3 million (1970, estimate). Catalans also live in France (approximately 200, 000), Italy (approximately 15, 000, mainly on the island of Sardinia), Andorra (approximately 7, 000), and the USA and Latin America (approximately 200, 000). They speak Catalan and Spanish, and their religion is Catholicism.

The ancestors of the Catalans were Iberian tribes who came under the influence of the Celts, Carthaginian and Greek colonists, and, after the third century B.C., the Romans. The Alani, and later the Visigoths, ruled the territory of the Catalans for a short time in the fifth century. In the early eighth century the Catalans were conquered by the Arabs, who were driven out of northern Catalonia by the Franks in the late eighth century. The ethnic distinctiveness of the Catalans among the peoples of Spain was determined to a great extent by their prolonged contacts with the Franks. From the formation of a unified Spanish kingdom in the late 15th century until the mid-20th century, the Catalans have fought against the centralizing policies of the Spanish rulers and struggled for regional autonomy. During this struggle the Catalan nationality gradually took shape. The Catalans are engaged in industry (especially textiles), agriculture, and, along the coast, fishing. The distinctive culture of the Catalans is clearly expressed in their dances (the sardana and contrapás), choral singing, and crafts (artistic smithing, majolica). The Catalans possess a rich literature in their own language.

REFERENCE

Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965.

N. N. SADOMSKAIA

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