The natives of Barcelona are Catalan, meaning they live in the Catalunya region of Spain. Like the Basques they feel they are not Spanish and don't really want to be a part of Spain. This is because Spain has not been kind to the Catalan people, conquering and dominating them for hundreds of years.
Until the death of Franco in 1975, the flag, language and Catalan identity were illegal. This has bred resentment, and the discontent with Spanish rule still lingers below the surface. There might not be a visible separatist movement like with ETA and the Basque people, but the feeling is there. They now proudly fly the Catalan flag in Catalunya.
The language of the region is also called Catalan and it is very different from Spanish, not just a dialect. It's widely spoken by over six million people in the Catalunya region, and street signs, store windows, billboards, everywhere are in Catalan, and sometimes Spanish. It is a bit difficult for those who speak Spanish to understand the written and spoken Catalan. But don't be dismayed as all Catalans also speak and understand Spanish.
Catalan culture is unique and has created a wealth of folklore, art, literature, music, food and more. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without sampling some of the Catalan traditions, either in museums or public performances or just dining in a Catalan restaurant.
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