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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Basque Country may refer to one of three areas inhabited by the Basque people:

  • The Basque Country (autonomous community) (Comunidad Autonoma Vasca, Euskadi, País Vasco or Vascongadas), an autonomous community of Spain, composed with Alava (Araba), Vizcaya (Bizkaia) and Gipuzkoa.
  • The Basque Country (greater region) (Euskal Herria, País Vasco, Pays Basque), the approximate cultural area of Basque culture and language. It is made up of the Spanish provinces of Alava (Araba), Vizcaya (Bizkaia),Gipuzkoa, the Autonomous Community of Navarra (Nafarroa), and the French areas (not recognized as administrative regions) of Lower Navarre (Behe Nafarroa), Labourd (Lapurdi) and Soule (Zuberoa).
  • The Northern Basque Country (Iparralde, Pays Basque or Pays Basque Nord), the northern part of Euskal Herria, in France, with Lower Navarre (Behe Nafarroa), Labourd (Lapurdi) and Soule (Zuberoa).

The Basque Country may refer to one of three areas inhabited by the Basque people:

  • The Basque Country (autonomous community) (Comunidad Autónoma Vasca, Euskadi, País Vasco or Vascongadas), an autonomous community of Spain (shown in pink on the map)
  • The Basque Country (greater region) (Euskal Herria, País Vasco, Pays Basque), the approximate cultural area of Basque culture and language
  • The Northern Basque Country (Iparralde, Pays Basque or Pays Basque Nord), the three (historic) northern provinces in France (shown in yellow on the map).
  • The Southern Basque Country (Hegoalde) is a term used in Basque to refer to the Basque provinces in Spain i.e. the Autonomous Basque Community plus Navarre (shown in pink and green on the map).

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Iberia : Spain : Northern Spain : Basque Country

The Basque Country (Basque: Euskadi, Spanish: Pais Vasco) is a region at the north of Spain, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and France. It is defined formally as an autonomous community of three provinces within Spain, and culturally including a fourth province and a small portion of France.

Basque Country is one of the world's top gastronomic destinations, with key gourmet centers in San Sebastian, Hondarribia and Bilbao.


The following Spanish provinces make up the autonomous community of Pais Vasco:

Culturally, the Basque Country also includes the Spanish province of Navarra (Basque: Nafarroa), and the territories of Labord (Basque: Lapurdi), French Navarra (Basque: Behenafarroa), and Soule (Basque: Zuberoa) in southwestern France.

  • Guernica (Basque: Gernika): a thriving commercial town with great historical and cultural significance for the Basque people.
  • Zumaia and Zarauz: glorious sandy beaches, not far from San Sebastian.
  • Getaria: top-notch fresh seafood at this fishing harbor.



Under the Franco regime all languages other than Castilian Spanish were severely restricted. The Spanish constitution of 1978 established the provinces of Araba, Gipuzkoa, and Bizkaia as the Basque Autonomous Region. The Basque Autonomous Region (Communidad Autonoma Vasca) has a great deal of autonomy from the national government (including the autonomy to recognize Euskara as an official language of the region), but this has not satisfied all factions of the Basque community.

The Basque people have had a stormy relationship with the nation of Spain, and for decades there had been incidents of violence made in the name of self-determination and/or independence. ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna -the Basque terrorist organization) announced a permanent ceasefire at the end of March of 2006, but has since reopened hostilities, killing two people in 2007 with a car bomb at Madrid airport, and in the summer of 2009 detonating bombs in Burgos and Palma de Mallorca.


The native language of the region is Basque (Euskara). Spanish is widely spoken, but you'll also see signs in Basque. From the region's location, you might expect this language to be a blend of Spanish and French, but it's actually unrelated to either of them... or any other known language, having developed in relative isolation from neighboring peoples.

See also: Basque phrasebook

  • Bilbao-Bilbo: Loiu airport [1] is the largest in Basque Country, with a stunning terminal building designed by Santiago Calatrava. It has cheap flights with Easyjet to London and with Vueling to Barcelona and Malaga. There are many connections to other European cities with other companies as Iberia, Lufthansa, Bruxelles Airlines.
  • Vitoria-Gasteiz: Foronda airport has cheap flights with Ryanair from Dublin and London(Stansted)
  • Biarritz: it has cheap flights with Ryanair from Dublin, London(Stansted), Shannon (Ireland) and Frankfurt, and with Sterling Airlines from Oslo and Copenhagen.

By train

Daily connections to main cities from Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. Check RENFE (Spain)[2] and SNCF (France)[3] websites.

By bus

Daily connections with Madrid and Barcelona from Bilbo/Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastian, Gasteiz/Vitoria and Iruña/Pamplona.

By car

The motorway between Paris and Madrid goes through Baiona/Bayonne, Donostia/San Sebastian and Vitoria/Gasteiz. The tolls between Baiona and Donostia are pretty expensive. Another motorway links Iruña/Pamplona with Barcelona There are motorways between all the main cities: Bilbo-Gasteiz, Bilbo-Donostia, Donostia-Iruña, Gasteiz-Iruña.

By thumb

Sooner or later people normally stop. It's better to hitchhike at the exits of the towns where the traffic is calmer than on the motorways. So many long-distance truck routes cross the Basque Country it should be quite easy to find someone to take you directly from Madrid or Paris to the Basque Country, and vice versa.

Get around

There is an extensive bus and train network, and roads are well signposted. But watch out for occasional monolingual signs in Basque.

  • The Guggenheim Museum, [4], in Bilbao is world-renowned for its contemporary architecture and modern art. It was designed by Frank Gehry, and opened in 1997.
  • Come in mid-August for Bilbao's annual week-long festival.
  • Sun, sea, sand and surf at numerous beaches along the coast from France towards Bilbao.
  • Take a small group escorted tour that will reveal the best this region has to offer. Ophorus [5] organises tours in both French and Spanish Basque Country with your own private driver guide. Destinations include the cities of Bilbao (Guggenheim), San Sebastian, Saint Jean de Luz, Biarritz and the small villages of Sare and Aïnhoa that are classified as most beautiful of France.
  • Pintxos


Txakoli: white wine from the regions of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, also now produced in a part of Araba/Alava.

Rioja wines: produced in La Rioja, south of Araba/Alava and southwest of Nafarroa/Navarra.

Cider (Sagardoa in basque): is not like British or Nordic cider, it doesn't have gas and is more similar to the wine. Is mostly produced in Gipuzkoa around Donostia/San Sebastian but also in some parts of Nafarroa/Navarra and Bizkaia. In winter between January and March the cider cellars are open as restaurants where you can have dinner and you drink all the cider you want.

Kalimotxo: low quality wine with coke. Typical drink of teenagers and for parties.

Patxaran: sloe liquor. Typical after dinner. Tastes a bit like the cough medicine 'Night Nurse'.

Beer: if you want a tap beer (normally cheaper) you can ask caña or half caña called zurito. Normally the glass is not filled to the top and depending on the place, the barman or your face it could be a big or small measure.

Stay Safe

With a rate of only 33.4 crimes per 1000 inhabitants, the Basque Country has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.

Crime rates however can vary significantly between rural and urban areas, even if urban areas are not particularly dangerous. Violent crime is extremely rare, but the usual precautions will keep you out of any problems.

In the bigger cities, only a few areas (for example San Francisco in Bilbao) are best avoided.

If you find any signs of vandalism, don't be alarmed.

It is advisable not to wear any Spanish symbols. Spain national football (soccer) tops, Spanish flags or Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid club paraphernalia are best avoided. Alhough no assaults on people wearing them have been recorded, some people might be upset about them.

Take into account that Basque Country inhabitants are divided amongst those who support independence and others who support union with Spain. If speaking to strangers, avoid political topics as it can cause upset or offend.

Get out

The charms of southwest France, in particular the beach resorts and town of Biarritz, are a short hop across the border. Or travel due east to explore the rugged Pyrenees. To the west, Spain offers the mountains and coastline of Asturias and Galicia, the terminus of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Head south to Burgos and central Spain.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Basque Country


Basque Country

  1. A geographical region that straddles the border of Spain and France
  2. The region where the Basque language is spoken
  3. An autonomous community entirely within Spain



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Simple English

The Basque Country (called Euskal Herria by its inhabitants) is a region in South-West Europe, that is contained within the borders of France and Spain.



It is the home of the Basque people. It is located at the western end of the Pyrenees on the Bay of Biscay. Its boundaries are complicated. The greater Basque Country consists of seven districts--four within Spain and three within France.



No one knows when the Basques came to Europe. Many say they have been there since the Neolithic period at the end of the Stone Age, others say even before then.

The first information about the Basque Country is from Roman times. According to evidence, the Basque people already spoke their own language by then. After the fall of Roman Empire, the Basque Country was isolated from the invading Goths.

Middle Ages

During the Muslim invasion of South Europe, the Basque Country split in two: The Castillian and the Navarran lands. A war with France split the Navarran zone in two.

After the Reconquista, the Castillian Basque lands and Navarra became part of the new country: Spain. Since then, Basque people from the Spanish area of the Basque Country have had their own government, and fought to gain the northern part of the Basque Country from France.


Today, three of the Basque districts in Spain--Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa--form a political unit known as an autonomous community of Spain. This three-district community is called the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. It is one of 17 autonomous communities in Spain.

The fourth Basque district in Spain--Navarra--is its own separate autonomous Community of Spain.

The three districts which form the North (French) Basque Country are Lapurdi (Labourd), Nafarroa Beherea (Basse-Navarre) and Zuberoa/Xiberoa (Soule).


The entire Basque region has a surface area of 20,664 km2 (square kilometers), 7,978 sq mi. The Autonomous Community of the Euskadi covers 7,234 km2 (square kilometers) or 2,793 sq mi. The population of the Autonomous Community is about 2,000,000--about 5% of the total population of Spain. The Basque language and Spanish are spoken there. The most important city is Bilbao, but the parliament is in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Famous Basque people

  • Miguel de Unamuno
  • Maurice Ravel (through his mother)
  • Che Guevara (through his mother)
  • St. Ignatius Loyola
  • Louis Daguerre
  • Pío Baroja

Most important cities in the Basque Country

  • Bilbao
  • Donostia
  • Gazteiz
  • Iruña
  • Biarritz
  • Baiona
  • Maule
  • Donibane Garazi

Other pages

  • Euskadi

Other websites


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