Occitan is a Romance language spoken mainly in southern France and also in Italy and Spain. There are perhaps 800.000 people who speak Occitan in their daily lives, while 5 or 6 million people are able to speak the language. The majority of speakers are elderly and live in rural areas. There are six dialects of Occitan: Provençal, Gascon, Languedoc, Limousin, Alpine and Auvergne.
In France Occitan is considered a 'regional language' and can be taught in schools only as a foreign language. There is no Occitan-medium education available and most teaching of Occitan is done on a private basis.
In the Occitan-speaking part of Spain, the Aran Valley, Occitan has co-official status with Spanish and Catalan and is used in official documents, on road signs and as a medium of instruction in schools. The local government also provides financial support for the publication of books in Occitan.