One of the four motors for Europe

  • Economy_1
    Barcelona harbour
    the biggest in the Mediterranean
  • Economy_2
    flights a day from Barcelona
  • Economy_3
    active companies

Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona, ​​are the driving force of a large, dynamic and diverse economic area. Thanks to its strategic position, it is the gateway to Southern Europe, a crucial area in the Mediterranean, a bridge to the Maghreb region in North Africa and a platform towards Latin America. It represents 30% of Spanish foreign trade and is a popular and world-famous tourist destination. The most important industrial sectors are food and beverages biopharmaceutics, chemical, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and medical technology. Catalonia is a leading research actor, with 1.5% of the European population, it receives 2.2% of the European competitive funds and 3.5% of the European Research Council (CIR) grants. This places Catalonia at the third place of the top ten EU and among the top five when including all the participating countries (projects per ERC call for projects/million inhabitants).

GDP (billion €) 234,7 (ranks between Finland and Denmark) (2017)
GDP per capita (€) 29,966 (EU-28: 28,700) (2016)
ICP (annual variation) 2.3% (variation between Sept. 2018 and 2017)
Exports (million €) 70,828 (25% of all Spanish exports; 65% of exports to the EU markets)
Imports (million €) 76,850
Openness ratio 61%
R&D expenditure 1.6% of GDP (3,104 million €) (2013)
Number of active companies 611,751 (2011)
Number of foreign companies 5,600 (2013). Catalonia hosts 38.6% of all foreign companies in Spain (2013).
Foreign investment € 4,064 million (annual average 2013-2017) (The 1st of the FDI Strategy list in ‘Large European regions of the future 2018/19, the Financial Times)


Barcelona harbour Biggest Mediterranean port in terms of goods volume, biggest European port in terms of cruise traffic (fourth biggest cruise base port in the world). Other important ports: Tarragona, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Palamós.
Barcelona’s harbour total transit (thousand tons) 41,487.4
Barcelona-El Prat Airport Operates more than 900 flights a day and connects with several destinations in America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Airport number of passengers 35,145,176
Other airports in Catalonia Girona Airport, Reus Airport and Lleida-Alguaire Airport
Railway High speed connections between most important Catalan cities and direct trains to Paris, Madrid and other Spanish destinations
Road network size 12,000 km, of which about 1,000 are motorways
Passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants 448

Catalan economy by sectors

Gross Value Added (million €) 191,476

Economy by sectors:

Agricultural holdings (1,000) 61 (2009)

Industry by sectors:

Tourism sector employs 11% of the population
Tourist establishments 6.06 (48% of which are hotels)
Bed-places (1,000) 748 (43.2% of which are hotels)
Number of foreign tourists 15,580,362 (2013)


Active Population (1,000) 3,735
Unemployment rate 22.7%

Employment by sectors:

Information society

Households with Internet Access 72%
E-government usage 45%


Barcelona is the sixth top-ranking European city for business, after London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Berlin, according to the European Cities Monitor 2011 (Cushman & Wakefield report).

World Mobile Capital: from 2012 to 2018 Barcelona hosts the GSMA Mobile World Conference and hosts activities to create a dynamic professional ecosystem for the mobile phone and its satellite industries.

Barcelona was named European Innovation Capital in March 2014, becoming the first European iCapital.

In 2011, 72 local leaders from all over the world selected Barcelona as their most admired city in Ernst & Young’s Cities for Citizens report.