With 7,5 million inhabitants and a surface area of 32,107 square kilometers, Catalonia is a diverse territory, with extensive mountains, inland depressions, and a coastline that stretches for 214 km. Catalonia is very rich in natural scenery, with 14 sites declared to be natural parks and protected areas. Barcelona is among the most visited cities in Europe. Catalan culture, architecture and history have developed its own unique and universal identity over the centuries.
Historically a trading nation, Catalonia’s economic activity has always depended on its ability to connect to the rest of the world. Its location in the Mediterranean and its transport infrastructures, as well as its trading, entrepreneurial and open economy have made it a top rank strategic position in the south of Europe and an unbeatable meeting point for international business.
Industry, innovation and tourism in Catalonia
The industrial activity, which represents nearly 20 % of the Catalan GDP, has grown particularly in the Barcelona area, and it has also developed in many industrial cities all over the country. Half of the Catalan economy has either a direct or indirect relationship with the industrial sector, innovative, dynamic and diversified.
Today, a strong industrial base and powerful ICT sector are key elements making Catalonia a driving force in industry 4.0. Several companies have already joined this fourth industrial revolution. Catalonia has shown its commitment to 3D printing, it is leading the field in connected vehicle testing, in robotics applied to intelligent logistics management systems or in excellence in big data. And many companies are firmly committed to Barcelona, the Mobile World Capital to do business and develop technology here.
Together with industry, trade and tourism are important activities. Tourism has become one of the most notable economic activities. With more than 18 million foreign tourists in 2016 -4% over 2015-, Catalonia is one of the top European destinations showing 22.2% of the Spanish total tourist accommodation places and 2.5% of the EU. Barcelona holds sixth place among European cities for the number of overnight stays.
Foreign trade & investment
According to data published by the State’s Ministry of Economy and Competiveness, foreign investment in Catalonia reached a total of 4,783 million euros in 2015, the second highest figure on record, only surpassed by the 2010 figures. Catalonia concentrates 22% of all investments in Spain.
In 2016 Catalan exports went over €65,000 million a year on year growth of 2%. This is a growth rate higher than the Euro area (0.7%), Spain (1.7%), Germany (1.2%) and Italy (1.1%), and contrasts with falls in France (-0.9%), the UK (-0.2%), the US (-3.2%), China (-6.4%) and Japan (-7 4%).
Catalan exports represented 25.5% of all of Spanish exports for 2015. Also in 2015 there was a 3% rise in the number of regular exporting businesses in Catalonia (16.422 companies) and represents 34.4% of the Spanish state’s total.
Health & Education, pillars of Catalan lifestyle
Catalonia has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world and Barcelona is a byword for innovation in both medical care and technology. Over 10,000 overseas patients come for treatment in facilities famous worldwide for their excellence, such as: the Institut Dexeus, Barraquer, Teknon, Quirón, Planas, Tres Torres, Corachán, Puigverd, Platón and CIMA among others.
An efficient school system with an international educational offer is another remarkable trait. There is a wide range of educational programmes provided by more than 725 top-quality public and private schools. Catalonia is home to 12 universities, 35 international schools that offer the educational programmes of their respective countries of origin, and Barcelona is home to some of the world’s most prestigious business schools. IESE and ESADE are among the top European MBA.