Catalonia is an autonomous region in Spain and includes the provinces of Lleida, Tarragona, Girona and Barcelona, which is also the region's capital.
The region was colonized by the Romans around 200 BC. In 400s Visigoths made the end to the Romans grasp of Catalonia. The area was divided into 15 counties. When the last count appointed by a Frankish king died, Catalonia's quest for independence had began. In 1640 the Catalan Republic was proclaimed, however only in 1979 a political and cultural autonomy became possible.
When industrialization began to flurish in Spain, Catalonia was the main source of it. Even today, the industry is much more developed here in comparison to other parts of the country. The industrial activity employs as much as 37% of Catalonia's active population. The main industries are the manufacture of automobiles, aircraft parts, chemicals, furniture, food and electronics.
Prior to the 1992 Summer Olympics construction building industry started to expand in Catalonia. The Olympics brought the world's attention to Barcelona and the growing tourism are still driving the building boom.
Barcelona's political history is marked by a 40 year long dictatorship in modern times. Between 1936 and 1975, Francisco Franco led Spain with an iron fist and put brutal stop to Catalonia's development of identity, language and culture. In June 1977 the citizens were able to give their votes in a democratic popular vote. Socialists emerged victorious from the elections. Prime Minister Suárez was approved by Catalonia's autonomy and the Socialists have been ruling Barcelona since. Some political issues of Catalonia's relationship with the rest of Spain have yet to be solve. The battle for full independence is still in progress.