Catalonia has a distinct culture of its own, most evidently of Mediterranean tradition, and it is different from most other Spanish regions in several aspects, not only by its language. Catalonia is one of the most cosmopolitan places in Spain, thanks to its long tradition of international commerce. The Catalonians are fiercely proud of their identity and language, as they are Spain's richest and most highly industrialized region.
With a distinct history stretching back to the early Middle Ages, many Catalans think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of Spain. This feeling is fed by memories of the Franco dictatorship, which attempted to suppress Catalan identity. "the Catalan topic" has a special importance, especially in relation to new demands for autonomy.