Catalonia, northeastern region of Spain where the elections held this Sunday look at the plebiscite for or against independence, is a key area for the country. Aside from its heavy debt, one of its weaknesses (32.8% of GDP), this region has indeed many advantages, both from an economic point of view demographic.
► Second most populous region
About 46.4 million people in Spain, Catalonia welcomes 7.5, making it the second most populated region behind Andalusia (8.4 million) and ahead of Madrid (6.3). Nearly 73% of its inhabitants speak Catalan and 14.5% are foreigners.
► A region rich
In 2014, Catalonia was the region the richest in Spain, contributing 18.9% to GDP, ahead of Madrid (18.7%). Its per capita GDP remains above the average (22,780 euros), amounting to 26,996 euros in 2014.
The region has over 586 000 companies, the vast majority of SMEs. Only 2150 of them have more than 200 employees. Mango textile giant has its headquarters, as Gas Natural gas giant. Volkswagen Group owns a production plant of its Seat brand.
The unemployment rate is lower than the rest of the country. It was the second quarter of 19.1% of the active population, against 22.37% nationally.
A quarter of Spanish exports are parts of Catalonia in 2014. Since 2011, the region exports also more abroad than it sells to the rest of Spain.
The region has attracted last year 17% of total foreign investments in Spain or 2900000000 euros, a decline in sales of almost 16% from 2013, according to the Ministry of Economy. Investments are however left up in the first half. They have almost quadrupled to 1.96 billion, the ministry said.
► First tourist destination in Spain
Catalonia, with its capital Barcelona the beaches of the Costa Brava, the Spanish region is attracting more foreign tourists. More than 16.8 million went there in 2014, a quarter of total foreign greeted by the country.
Its airport is the second country, after Madrid. It hosted in 2014 some 37.6 million passengers. Its port was the third in 2013 behind Algeciras and Valencia, according to the latest data available from the World Council of shipping (WSC).