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Catalan is a Romance language spoken by the population of about 10 million people in the east of the Iberian Peninsula (Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, most of the region of Valencia, and the Eastern Strip of Aragon) and the Principality of Andorra. In addition, Catalan is still spoken in the French administrative region of Roussillon, as well as in the city of Alghero on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Like other Romance languages, Catalan developed out of Latin during the Middle Ages. The first documents written in Catalan, a collection of sermons dating from the late 12th or early 13th centuries, are known as the Homilies of Organyà. Catalan has been an important language for everyday use and literary expression in the eastern territories of the Iberian Peninsula from medieval times up to today. Following a period of political and cultural hegemony lasting until the 16th century, literary expression in Catalan suffered a decline until the 19th century when, propelled by Romantic ideals, the literary use of the language underwent a renaissance (a period known in Catalan as the Renaixença).
Today, Catalan and Spanish are the co-official languages of the Catalan-speaking territories in the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the only official language of Andorra.