Of all the regions that make up the ethnic, cultural and historical patchwork of Spain, Catalonia is perhaps the most distinctive. The majority of the people speak Catalan and not Castilian Spanish (the two are co-official,)and the people are intensely proud of their own identity and heritage. Ask the Catalans and they will tell you their northeast corner of Spain is not a region but a nation. Not surprisingly, rivalry between Castile and Catalunya is an ongoing part of Spanish history.
Bordering France to the north, Aragon to the west, the Valencia region to the south and the Mediterranean along its eastern coast, Catalunya is composed of four provinces: Lleida, Tarragona, Girona and Barcelona. This is a land of extraordinary contrasts. Flatter towards the south, where vineyards and olive groves are concentrated, jaggedly rocky along the stunning Costa Brava, and reaching soaring heights in the Pyrenees. Catalunya boasts some of Spain's most memorable scenery. There is excellent skiing, beautiful national parks, charming villages in the Pyrenees and international playgrounds along the Mediterranean.
The region's cuisine features unusual dishes like goose with pears and lobster with chicken, wonderful seafood stews, pastas and a great variety of wild mushrooms. Fine red and white wines are produced here, and Catalan sparkling wines (cavas) are favorite celebratory wines around the world.