Euskadi - Basque Country
An infinite little country
The Basque Country is a land of contrasts: it combines rural with urban areas, preserves the beauty of its natural environment and an impeccable architectural heritage, brings together unique ancestral traditions and cultures and avant-garde, and combines craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. All these make this land infinite.
7,233 km2 of surface
0,922 human development Index
A strategic location
The Basque Country is located in the north of the Iberian peninsula and on the easternmost end of the Bay of Biscay where it borders France. Around half of its populations gathers in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastián, its major cities.
At the vanguard of Europe
Industry is the main motor of the Basque economy, making the Basque Country a leading force in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0.
It also leads the energetic and bioscientific sectors. The Basque Country has the most students graduating on science and technology in all of Europe, with a rate of 38.8%. It also has commercial and business transactions in 83 countries, as well as having institutional delegations in other 6. Thanks to its location, it fulfills a central role in Atlantic logistic-relationships.
The Basque Country has its own unique fiscal system called ‘Concierto Económico’. This is a bilateral relationship with Spain in regards to tributary and financial matters.
The Basque Country sits 8th among European countries regarding GDP per capita, with a 122% ratio.
three ways of life
Whole villages have lived off the sea for centuries. The Basque Country is home to illustrious sailors who set off to explore the world, a world that was, at the same time, astonished by its brave whalers. Our sea ports have a history and histories to tell; tales of sacrifice and hard work, as that carried out by our net menders, shipyard workers and fishermen. Thanks to the deep roots of our marine tradition, we are still able to enjoy freshly caught fish today.
The farms,‘baserri’ in Basque,that symbol of familiar unity, have worked the land for centuries now. Each of them conforms an invaluable piece of social, familiar, historical and cultural heritage. For us, when it comes to the land and the orchard, it is not that much about obtaining food, but about being close to them and knowing how to work them. They are the link that connects us with our received tradition and roots, and, above all, a reason to take care of them.
The work done by shepherds and cattle raisers in the Basque Country, where transhumance is still practiced, goes beyond the taking care of animals and producing quality produce. It is also about guaranteeing the preservation of local animal breeds like ‘latxa’ and ‘carranza’ sheep; ‘terreña’, Pyrenean, ‘monchina’ and ‘betizu’ cattle; or the ‘pottoka’ horse and that from the mountains of Álava.
THE BASQUE LANGUAGE
Europe’s oldest language
Of unknown origin, Euskera has no known relationship with other European languages. There are signs that it could have been spoken already in AD 1, even beyond the Basque Country’s borders of today. Even though UNESCO has listed it as an endangered language, it currently has over 750,000 speakers thanks to a whole century of recovery in the fields of education, society, politics, administration, culture or economy.
Kaixo, agur, ongi etorri, ardoa, txotx, on egin, eskerrik asko, maite zaitut, xirimiri...
Sports are big in the Basque Country, and still more so those that are local. The Basque ‘pelota’ is by far the most popular, especially among the young who play it in the numerous ‘frontón’, a type of two-walled court where the game is played, that can be found in every city, town and village. Professional tournaments, in turn, gather crowds.
The ‘herri-kirolak’, local sports, are a typical element of local festivities. Their origin lies on the everyday tasks that were carried out in the farms, and they mainly consist of showing who has the greater strength or dexterity. Examples could be wood-chopping, stone lifting, cutting grass with a scythe or heaving stones.
Rowing, originated from fishing, is deeply rooted in coastal villages. Today, the different teams compete under the banners of their villages in speed competitions at sea.
A unique and particular cultural identity
The unique Basque culture stems from its ancestral language and has several very characteristic samples.
This is the art of creating a discourse by singing improvised verses on a given topic and following strict rhyme and metric rules. It is extremely popular in ciderhouses. .
Basque dances have been traditionally related to religious or popular events that remain present in many local festivities still to this day. We can find dances like ‘aurresku’, ‘kaxarranka’, ‘ezpata dantza’, etc.
There are various instruments that originated in the Basque Country: the ‘trikitixa’ (similar to an accordion), ‘alboka’, ‘txalaparta’, ‘dulzaina’, ‘txistu’, ‘pandero’, ‘danbolin’ or ‘atabal’.
From the Basque Country to the world, from the world to the Basque Country
Basque culture has been at the vanguard while also sticking to its true essence. It has been a source of inspiration for artists that would go on to become worldwide referents and it is equally a place where international artists arrive to display their work.