Located at the Mediterranean sea in the very north of the Spanish coast,
it is certainly the most cosmopolitan, progressive and modern city of
Spain linked to the rest of Europe for its inspiration and its innovations.
source www.bcn.es/Ayuntamiento de Barcelona
If you're thinking about moving to Barcelona, remember
it is both, a bilingual and bicultural city! Many people deciding to move
here underestimate or sometimes even totally ignore the reality of the
Catalan language thinking it is some kind of regional accent (never commit
this error!). Catalan, which resembles a mix of French and Spanish, is
a natural language such as French, German or English with its own grammar,
syntax, literature, tradition and culture. There are about 10 million
people who speak or understand Catalan and thus it is much more widely
spoken than better-known languages such as Danish, Finnish or Norwegian.
There are 4 TV station broadcasting only in Catalan, half of advertisement
in the streets are in Catalan, any public signs, gas-, water- and electricity
bills, street names and/or announcement are in Catalan and quite often
movies are subtitled or dubbed in Catalan. Business talks and company
meetings are often rather held in Catalan than Spanish (Castilian) and
quite often university classes are only in Catalan. While most of the
time you'll be fine with Spanish you'll quickly realise that it can sometimes
be annoying or confusing having to figure out that "tancat"
hanging in a shop window means "closed". If you seriously intend
to spent the rest of your life here you will have to learn Catalan.
While today Barcelona has become a success story combining intelligently its traditional past and the modern present into a vivid, cultural and cosmopolitan boom town it also has its problems. Having attracted a lot of immigrants(especially from south America as they share the same language) Barcelona has to cope with illegal and often unskilled immigration, petty crime rate, drug problems, dirt, thrash and a growing gap between rich and poor. The population is ageing and birth-rate is low partly to the lack of social aid/support from the government. House prices rocket and living in the centre of Barcelona has become expensive for many young families often being forced to move to the outskirts. The public health service is suffering from inefficiency and long waiting times/lists. Standards in schools and universities are low and the justice system is slow and unreliable.It is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world(18156 inhabitants/km²), with an oppressive quantity of cars and motor scooters, and consistently ranks as one of the noisiest.
The 1992 held Olympic Games have without a doubt given Barcelona an massive impulse to reinvent itself, to reshape its face and to open the city to the sea. Barcelona's drive for self-improvement and self-promotion sometimes seems unstopable. And as before, it has a 'big event' to showcase its next stage of growth, the Forum Universal de Cultures, a locally-conceived project of rather questionable usefulness supported by UNESCO, whose aim is to celebrate cultural diversity and world peace. Scheduled for 2004, the project will no doubt provide the city with yet another reason to build and expand