Catalonia has an area of 32,000 km2 and a population of over seven million people, half of whom live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. The capital of Catalonia is a cosmopolitan city, a business and cultural centre, and a major tourist destination. It also offers Roman archaeological remains in Tarragona and beaches on the Costa Brava and the Costa Daurada.
Catalonia has an autonomous government within Spain and has authority over policies on universities, amongst other areas. Another fundamental element of Catalan culture and identity is the language. Catalan is the country's official language, along with Spanish, and is the language of preference in the education system.
Catalonia has a rich geographical diversity; you can go from the sea to the high mountains in less than an hour. This means contrasts in climate. Although in most of the region the climate is Mediterranean, with mild temperatures and little rainfall, in inland and mountain areas it is much harsher.
Aside from its great historical and artistic legacy, Catalonia is renowned worldwide for its cuisine, which is traditional Mediterranean featuring typical dishes such as pa amb tomàquet(bread rubbed with tomato).
Birthplace of artists like Gaudí, Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Casals and Pla, Catalonia also has a deep-rooted popular culture. The greatest exponents of this are the castells, or human towers, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and the sardana, a dance.