Catalan separatist leaders have vowed to stage an independence referendum on Sunday, despite the Spanish government’s pledge to crack down on what it calls an illegal vote.
As pro-independence campaigners defy authorities by handing out millions of ballots, Sky News takes a look at the region’s fight for self-rule.
Catalonia is bordered by France and Andorra
The northeastern region of Spain is home to 7.5 million citizens and has its own devolved government.
It has its own language, cultural traditions and the country’s second biggest city, Barcelona.
Prior to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) the region was given broad autonomy, but this was rolled back under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
Catalonia regained autonomy after General Franco’s death in 1975, then secured enhanced judiciary and taxation powers following a landmark vote in 2006.
However, in July 2010 Spain’s constitutional court ruled that parts of the region’s autonomy statute were unlawful and that references to Catalonia as a nation had “no legal validity”.
More than a million people held a march in Barcelona to oppose the ruling. Read more