With 7,7 million inhabitants and a surface area of 32,108 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 18 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 with Barcelona as an unbeatable meeting point for international business.
Industry, innovation and tourism in Catalonia
The industrial activity, which represents 19% 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.
Food, chemicals, motor vehicles, energy and pharma are the main industrial sectors. And today, this strong industrial base and a powerful ICT sector are key elements making Catalonia a driving force in industry 4.0.
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 accounts for 12% of Catalan GDP and has become one of the most notable economic activities. In fact, Barcelona and Catalonia are one of the top European destinations and received more than 19 million foreign tourists (2019).
Foreign trade & investment
According to data published by the State’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, foreign direct investment in Catalonia reached an annual average (2015-2019) of 4,730 million euros.
Also in 2019 Catalan exports accounted for €73,853 million, 3.1% higher than the previous year, and a record figure for the ninth consecutive year. Catalan exports account for 25.5% of Spain's total exports. Furthermore, there are more than 17,200 regular exporting businesses in Catalonia.
Exports set new records for food (8,982€M, +9.3% year-on-year), pharmaceuticals (6,303€M, +23.4%) and machinery (4,619M€, +3.3%).
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.
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.