The Basque Country (Basque: Euskadi; Spanish: País Vasco; French: Pays Basque), also called Basque Autonomous Community is an autonomous community in northern Spain.
Its basic institutions are the Basque Parliament and the Basque Government, based in the de facto capital city of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
It includes the Basque provinces of Álava (capital Vitoria-Gasteiz), Biscay (capital Bilbao), and Gipuzkoa (capital San Sebastian).
It limits to the east with Navarre and the French department of Pirineos Atlánticos (region of Nueva Aquitania), to the south with La Rioja and to the west with Castile and León and Cantabria.
The Basque Country is also the name given to the home of the Basque people. The Basque country is located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Euskal Herria is the oldest documented Basque name for the area they inhabit, dating from the 16th century.
It comprises the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and the Northern Basque Country in France. The region is home to the Basque people (Basque: Euskaldunak), their language (Basque: Euskara), culture and traditions. The area is neither linguistically nor culturally homogeneous, and certain areas have a majority of people who do not consider themselves Basque, such as the south of Navarre.
The Statute of Autonomy recognizes two official languages, Basque and Spanish.
The Basque Country also has, for historical reasons, like Navarre, a particular fiscal regime protected by the Spanish Constitution, which attributes the ability to collect taxes to the provincial councils.
Currently, the Basque Country has one of the most dynamic regional economies in Spain. Industry represents 24% of GDP, eight points above the national average.
A 2014 OECD report places the Basque Country as the Spanish region with the highest quality of life.
Tourism in the Basque Country has increased considerably in recent years. Among the people who visit it annually, 71% come from the rest of Spain, with the following autonomous communities representing the most visits: Community of Madrid (14.2%), Catalonia (11.1%). International entries represent the remaining 29%, with France (7.2%) being the country that visits the Basque Country the most. On the other hand, 62% of the people who come to the Basque country visit one of the three capitals, 27% visit the interior and 11% the Basque coast.
Places to visit (in alphabetical order by provinces)
Ullíbarri-Gamboa reservoir is the largest lake in the Basque Country
Vitoria-Gasteiz – the capital of the Basque Country
Aguinaga Museum of Mercedes-Benz
Bakio – ideal for surfers of all levels
Bilbao – the most visited city of the Basque Country
Biscay bridge – a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
Butron castle inspired by Bavarian castle models
Cabo Machichaco lighthouse – the northernmost point of Basque country
Castle of Muñatones dates back to 1339
Durango and its historic center
Mundaka is famous for its surfing
Torre Loizaga car museum and its Rolls-Royce collection
Balenciaga Museum – born to be fashionable
Hondarribia – the northernmost resort of the Costa Vasca
Oñati and its first Basque university
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu
Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe
San Sebastian – Spanish royal resort
Urkulu Reservoir and its hiking routes
Zarautz and its longest beach in Basque coast
Zumaia – the longest set of continuous rock strata in the world
Way of St. James
The Camino de Santiago (214.2 km) runs along the entire Basque coast and is one of the first pilgrimage routes. The tour begins in the port of Fuenterrabía (Guipúzcoa), retracing the steps of the first pilgrims who arrived by sea.
The Basque Country has a wide range of active tourism companies and all kinds of adventure sports, from the most technical and specialized to the most common modalities such as surfing, mountain biking, hiking and bird watching.
There are thirteen Long Distance trails -the so-called GR- signposted and marked with red and white colors, which makes it possible to cross the autonomous community in all directions, knowing the borders of Gupúzcoa (GR 121), the Llanada Alavesa through the foothills of the mountains (GR 25) or the Urdaibai biosphere reserve, through the GR 98. There are also short-distance trails -called PR-, marked with white and yellow colors, which allow shorter routes and are available to all audiences.
Bicycle fans have 130 kilometers of Greenways enabled, nine paths recovered from old railway lines that were left in disuse. Some examples are the Plazaola Greenway, which crosses the Leizarán river valley, the old Basque-Navarro railway path, the Zadorra Greenway, between the Álava reservoirs, or the Arrazola Greenway, in the vicinity of the Mount Anboto.
There are 19 natural spaces of different categories, spread over the entire surface of the autonomous community, and all of them can be visited.
Ten of them have the status of Natural Parks: Peñas de Aya, Pagoeta and Aralar in Guipúzcoa; Izki, Valderejo and Entzia in Álava; Gorbea, and Urquiola in Álava and Vizcaya; Armañón in Vizcaya and Aizkorri in Guipúzcoa and Álava.
Likewise, there are six protected biotopes: Inurritza, Leizarán and the Rasa Maral in Guipúzcoa; Itxina and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Vizcaya and the Lagunas de Laguardia in Álava.
Transport and how to get to?
The three capitals have international airports:
Bilbao Airport (BIO) International
Vitoria Airport (VIT)
San Sebastián Airport (EAS)
Of the three, the most important hub and entry point to the Basque Country is Bilbao Airport, offering many international connections.
Eusko Trenbide Sarea (Basque Railway Network) is the Basque Government-owned company that maintains and creates the railway infrastructure in the autonomous region. Euskotren is the Basque Government-owned narrow gauge rail company that operates commuter services in Bilbao and San Sebastián, intercity Bilbao-San Sebastián service, and Euskotren Tranbia tram services in Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Metro Bilbao operates two metro lines that serve the Greater Bilbao area while Euskotren operates a third which opened in 2017. Euskotren operates a metro-like service in the San Sebastián area.
The Spanish government owns two main RENFE broad gauge lines that link Vitoria-Gasteiz with San Sebastián and Bilbao with central Spain. It also operates Cercanías commuter lines in both Bilbao and San Sebastián.
The FEVE narrow gauge rail company operates a commuter line between Bilbao and Balmaseda and links Bilbao with the rest of northern Spain.
Distance by car from the capital Vitoria-Gasteiz to the main cities of Spain
From Madrid 3 hr 37 min (364 km) via A-1
From Santiago de Compostela 5 hr 46 min (602 km) via A-6 and A-231
From Oviedo 3 hr 33 min (344 km) via A-8
From Santander 1 hr 50 min (162 km) via A-8
From Pamplona 1 hr 8 min (97.7 km) via A-10 and A-1
From Zaragoza 2 hr 32 min (263 km) via AP-68
From Barcelona 5 hr 17 min (567 km) via AP-2 and AP-68
From Valladolid 2 hr 30 min (243 km) via A-62 and AP-1
From Toledo 4 hr 10 min (430 km) via A-1
From Valencia 5 hr 27 min (572 km) via A-23 and AP-68
From Mérida 5 hr 44 min (631 km) via A-66 and A-62
From Murcia 6 hr 43 min (744 km) via A-1
From Seville 7 hr 29 min (824 km) via A-66 and A-62
From Logroño 1 hr 10 min (94.1 km) via AP-68
Area: 7234 km²
Coordinates: 42°59′00″N 2°37′00″W
Population: 2 220 504
Languages: Spanish, Basque
Time: Central European UTC +1