The Catalan Countries (Catalan: Països Catalans, Eastern Catalan: [pəˈizus kətəˈlans]) refers to those territories where the Catalan language, or a variant of it, is spoken. They include the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and parts of Aragon and Murcia, as well as Roussillon in France, the Principality of Andorra, and the city of Alghero in Sardinia (Italy). In the context of Catalan nationalism, the term is sometimes used in a more restricted way to refer to just Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. The Catalan Countries do not correspond to any present or past political or administrative unit, though most of the area belonged to the Crown of Aragon in the Middle Ages. Parts of Valencia (Spanish) and Catalonia (Occitan) are not Catalan-speaking.
The "Catalan Countries" have been at the centre of both cultural and political projects since the late 19th century. Its mainly cultural dimension became increasingly politically charged by the late 1960s and early 1970s, as Francoism began to die out in Spain, and what had been a cultural term restricted to connoisseurs of Catalan philology became a divisive issue during the Spanish Transition period, most acrimoniously in Valencia during the 1980s. Modern linguistic and cultural projects include the Institut Ramon Llull and the Fundació Ramon Llull, which are run by the governments of the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Andorra, the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales, the city council of Alghero and the Network of Valencian Cities. Politically, it involves a pan-nationalist project to unite the Catalan-speaking territories of Spain and France, often in the context of Catalan independence. The political project does not enjoy wide support, particularly outside Catalonia, where it is viewed as an expression of Catalan expansionism. The term "Catalan Countries" is itself controversial, and Valencian nationalists avoid using it.
The Kingdom of Majorca was founded by James I of Aragon, also known as James The Conqueror. After the death of his first-born son Alfonso, a will was written in 1262 which created the kingdom in order to cede it to his son James. This disposition was maintained during successive versions of his will such that when James I died in 1276, the Crown of Aragon passed to his eldest son Peter, known as Peter III of Aragon or Peter the Great. The Kingdom of Majorca passed to James, who reigned under the name of James II of Majorca. The same testament also established that the king of Majorca was a vassal to the king of Aragon.
Salvador Felip Jacint Dalí Domènech (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known popularly as Salvador Dalí, was a Catalan artist who became one of the most important painters of the 20th century. A skilled draftsman, he is best known for his surrealist work identified by its striking, bizarre, dreamlike images. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. In addition to painting, his artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, photography, and an Academy Award–winning short cartoon, "Destino," on which he collaborated with Walt Disney; it was released posthumously in 2003.
An artist of great imagination, Dalí had an affinity for doing unusual things to draw attention to himself. This sometimes irked those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric manner sometimes drew more public attention than his artwork.
- This is the greatest honour I have ever received in my life. Peace has always been my greatest concern. Yet in my childhood I learned to love it. My mother—an exceptional, brilliant woman—used to speak to me about it when I was still a child, because in those years there were also a lot of wars. Moreover, I am Catalan. Catalonia had the first democratic Parliament much before than England. And it was in my country where there was a beginning of united nations. At that time—the eleventh Century—they met in Toluges—today in France—to speak about peace, because the Catalonian people of that time were already against war. That is why, the United Nations, which work only for the ideal of peace, are in my hearth, because everything relating to peace goes directly there.
- I have not played the cello in front of an audience since long years but I think I must do it this time. I am going to play a melody from the Catalonian folklore: The singing of the Birds. Birds, when in the sky, go singing: Peace, peace, peace. And this is a melody that Bach, Beethoven and all great people would have admired and loved. And, in addition, it springs up from the soul of my country: Catalonia.
- Pau Casals, Catalan cellist, Transcript of speech before the United Nations Assembly (October 24, 1971)
- 7 February 2012: Catalan artist Antoni Tapies dies at age 88
- 12 January 2012: Paintings stolen from the Athens National Gallery include one by the Andalusian painter Pablo Picasso.
- 2 January 2011: Smoking in public places is banned throughout Spain.
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