The Catalan language is derived from the Latin language which the Romans brought into Hispania after the defeat of the Carthaginian army of Hannibal in the Second Punic War. It is closely related to Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian and especially Spanish. There are over 7.5 million native Catalan speakers and an additional 3 million non-native speakers. The Catalan language is an eminent poetic language, known for its long and rich poetic tradition. It is the second most widely-spoken language in Spain and enjoys extensive use in culture and art.
Catalan had its first "golden age" in medieval times. It was the language of the Crown of Aragon and, until the 15th century, a key Mediterranean tongue. From the 15th century until 19th, Catalan suffered a long period of relative disuse and decadence that culminated in its first prohibition by Philip V of Spain. Since the 19th century, Catalan has recovered its former status, in spite of suffering a second prohibition in Francoist Spain.
Extent of the Language
Catalan is currently spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andorra, the city of Alghero in Sardinia, Northern Catalonia in France, a region of Aragon known as La Franja de Ponent, and the shire of El Carxe in Murcia.