Costa Daurada is a coastal region at the southern tip of Catalonia. Its capital is Tarragona and it is divided into six counties with a total of 131 towns. With an area of 2,999 square kilometres, it forms, along with Terres de l’Ebre, the province of Tarragona, which, along with Lleida, Girona and Barcelona, is one of the four provinces of Catalonia. Catalonia, which borders with France to the north on the other side of the Pyrenees, the Community of Valencia to the south and Aragon to the west, is one of the 17 autonomous regions of Spain, a country in the southwestern Europe.
Thanks to this enviable location, Costa Daurada is home to a fabulously varied geography, ranging from multiple mountain chains to a shore washed by the Mediterranean. Its six counties are L’Alt Camp, El Baix Camp, La Conca de Barberà, El Priorat, El Tarragonès and El Baix Penedès.
Costa Daurada, literally, the Golden Coast, takes its name from the colour of its sand when the sun is shining. At such times, its beaches are reminiscent of gold. Of course, gold is hardly the only colour to be found in the land. The region’s inland areas are home to the full spectrum of greens and browns, with grasses, leaves and trees, especially pines. In contrast, the coastal regions are dominated by the spectacular blue of the sea, which offers a pleasant contrast with the bright glow of the sand and the orange-tinged light of the setting sun.
* Current demographic data according to Idescat (2006)
Costa Daurada is graced with a quintessentially Mediterranean climate, marked by mild winters and warm summers with little rain. In winter, this is due to the mistral wind, which blows in from the northwest, and the garbí, which blows from the southwest; in summer, the region’s low humidity prevents the formation of fog.
The region’s mountainous geography likewise contributes to its stable climate, making it an optimum place to enjoy outdoor activities all year long. Average temperatures range from approximately 14º in winter to between 21º and 29º in summer. However, it is worth noting the sharp contrast between the region’s coastal and mountain areas, where average temperatures are generally 2º to 4º lower.
Rainfall is concentrated in autumn and, above all, spring, although short, heavy showers are common in summer. Taking the differences between coastal and inland areas into account, rainfall in the Costa Daurada region averages between 375 and 700 mm a year. This notwithstanding, the region’s rainfall is somewhat unpredictable and has, at times, exceeded 400 mm in just a few days or even hours, causing rivers to rise dramatically.
Costa Daurada’s most important geographical feature is the pre-coastal depression separating the two mountain ranges on either end of the Catalan Mediterranean system, which crosses the region from north to south. It is the result of a rift valley that formed when an ancient Hercynian mountain range retracted. The end of the Tertiary orogenic period saw the collapse of several parts of the inland pre-coastal mountain range, giving rise to different basins, or concas, of varying sizes. One clear example is La Conca de Barberà.
Most of the rock in the mountain areas is calcareous and contains a variety of Palaeozoic deposits. The plains are dominated by Oligocene and Miocene formations: as on all sides of the Catalan central depression, imposing conglomerate outcrops, such as the Montsant massif, loom on the valley rim. The Costa Daurada also has 92 kilometres of Mediterranean coast.
As in the rest of Catalonia, the second half of the 19th century saw an exodus in Costa Daurada from the countryside to the cities. This migratory flow played a decisive role in the formation of the region’s current population pattern, characterised by small towns with shrinking populations and cities that grow gradually larger.
The Costa Daurada spans a total of 2,999 square kilometres. It has a population of 553,004 inhabitants, spread throughout 131 municipalities, which, in turn, are grouped into six counties. The population density is thus 184 inhabitants per square kilometre.