Comarques of Catalonia

Present-day division of Catalonia in comarques

This is a list of the 42 comarques (singular comarca, Catalan pronunciation: [kuˈmaɾkə]) into which Catalonia is divided. A comarca is a group of municipalities, roughly equivalent to a US or UK "county". However, in the context of Catalonia, the term "county" can be a bit misleading, because in medieval Catalonia, aside from the kings of Aragon, the most important rulers were counts, notably the Counts of Barcelona and of Urgell. Comarques have no particular relation to the "counties" that were ruled by counts.

Overview

Although today the comarques are officially recognized, for centuries they had existed unofficially, with citizens identifying with a particular comarca in the same way that people in other parts of the world might identify with a particular region.

In some cases, comarques consist of rural areas and many small villages centering on an important town, where the people of the region traditionally go to shop or to sell their goods. This is the case of comarques such as the Pla d'Estany, centered on the town of Banyoles, or the Ripollès, centered on the town of Ripoll. In other cases, comarques are larger areas with many important population centers that have traditionally been considered part of the same region, as in the case of the Empordà or Vallès.

The current official division of Catalonia into comarques originates in an order of the semi-autonomous Catalan government under the Spanish Republic in 1936. It was superseded after the 1939 victory of Francisco Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War, but restored in 1987 by the re-established Generalitat of Catalonia. Since the definition of comarques is traditionally a non-official and sometimes ambiguous, many new proposals have been made since the comarques were first officially designated as different towns attempt to adjust the official comarques with what they consider to be their traditional comarca. As a result, some revisions to the official division have been made periodically.

The comarca exists as a local government area, and has a representative comarcal council.

Borders of comarcas generally do not cross those of provinces (Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona), but there are several exceptions, since the provinces are defined by the Spanish government, while comarcas are defined by the Catalan government - notably in the case of Cerdanya which is split into two between the provinces of Lleida and Girona (most other cases involve only one or two municipalities).

Aran, which is included here, is officially not a comarca but a "unique territorial entity" with additional powers, but unofficially it is generally referred to as a comarca. Its current status was formalised in February 2015.[1]