Catalonia’s separatist government has staged a referendum on leaving Spain – against the wishes of the national authorities. With a population of 7.5 million, its capital is the proud city of Barcelona.
The Spanish leadership has rejected the vote as illegal and the courts have ordered a halt. Spanish police have arrested senior Catalan officials, seized ballots and raided key regional buildings, as well as polling stations, in an attempt to stop it going ahead.
Catalans have taken to the streets in protest. So what has stirred this hunger for independence – and could it happen?