Northern Catalonia


July 5, 2022

Northern Catalonia is the historically and culturally Catalan part and separated, for the benefit of France, from the rest of Catalonia by virtue of the Treaty of the Pyrenees (November 7, 1659). The inventor of the term Northern Catalonia is Alfons Mias in the 1930s, and the inventor of Northern Catalonia is Llorenç Planes (The Little Book of Northern Catalonia), both northern Catalans. The denomination includes the historical counties of Rosselló, Conflent, Vallespir, Capcir and the north of La Cerdanya (known as Alta Cerdanya). La Fenolleda, despite being mostly Occitan, is often included in the definition of Northern Catalonia due to its geographical and administrative relations with Roussillon. These counties currently constitute the French department of the Pyrenees Orientales (Pyrénées-Orientales in French), which is included in the region of Occitania (Occitanie), which is informally known in French as Pays Catalan, in Catalan País Català. On December 10, 2007, the General Council of the Pyrenees-Orientales approved the official status of Catalan, together with French and, in the same document, the appellation Catalunya del Nord as the equivalent of French Pyrénées-Orientales, as can be seen in the preamble of the same document. With a population of 457,238 inhabitants (2013), it represents 0.6% of the total French population, 6.1% of Catalonia and 3.2% of the total population of Catalan-speaking territories.


Northern Catalonia occupies mainly the eastern part of the Pyrenees and extends along the Rosselló plain to the north, where the Corberes separate it from the Aude and, to the south, the Albera massif separates it from the 'Alt Emporda. It is bordered on the west by Andorra and on the east by the Mediterranean Sea. The rivers Tet, Tec and Aglí cross Catalonia from north to west to east parallel to each other. The Carlit (2,921 m) and Canigó massifs, to the south (2,785 m), stand out for their great height. The climate, of the Mediterranean type, allows to have relatively mild winters, in which the snowfalls are very rare in the plain. Summers are often very hot. Winds play a major role, in particular the north wind, a northwesterly wind, called mistral in Occitania, which regularly reaches speeds in excess of 100 km / h. The east wind, also called marinade, for its part, is what brings the rain.

Territorial organization

In northern Catalonia there are 6 historical counties, which do not correspond to the current administrative division of the department.


The most accepted regional division of northern Catalonia is based on the work of Norbert Font i Sagué in his work Determination of the natural and historical regions of Catalonia. In the Atlas of Northern Catalonia by Joan Becat in 1977, you can see the inclusion of the Occitan Fenolleda, which has been part of the department of the Pyrenees Orientales since its creation on March 4, 1790, in more recent maps . In this way, the academic tradition organizes the 228 communes of northern Catalonia in five counties that form, together with La Fenolleda, the department of the Eastern Pyrenees: El Rosselló (92 communes), with Perpignan as its head; it includes the sub-counties of Els Aspres, Les Corberes, L'Albera, including the Marenda coast, the Plana del Rosselló, the Riberal del Tet, and the Salanca. El Vallespir (21 communes), with Ceret as its head; it includes the sub-counties of Alt Vallespir, Vallespir Mitjà and Baix Vallespir. El Conflent (53 communes), with Prada as its head; it includes the sub-counties of Alt Conflent, Conflent Mitjà and Baix Conflent, Les Garrotxes, and part of the Altiplà de Sornià. El Capcir (7 communes), with Formiguera as head. Alta Cerdanya (27 communes), with Montlluís as head; the enclave of Llívia belongs administratively to the Baixa Cerdanya, in Spain. La Fenolleda or el Fenolledès (28