Historical and cultural region, southern France. Originally inhabited by Iberians, the region was conquered by Rome in the 2nd century BC. It was held by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD, and successively by Arabs and Carolingian Franks. It was acquired by the counts of Barcelona in the 9th century. Monasticism flourished from the 10th century on, and the area is rich in Romanesque architectural remains. It became part of the kingdom of Aragon in the 12th century. It was acquired from Spain by treaty in 1659. The chief city is Perpignan. There are numerous families of Catalan gypsies, and Catalan is widely spoken.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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