Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Basque Country

In a few days Kája and I are headed to Bilbao, Spain, for a few days.  Neither of us have been to the Basque Country before and we're looking forward to our first trip away together.  Here's a bit about the Basque Country.

Euskal Herria, also known as the Basque Country, is kind of a mystery.  The region lies within the borders of France and Spain.  It is made up of seven districts with three in southwestern France and four in northern Spain.

The entire region is 20.664 km² (7978 square miles) making it a little smaller than New Jersey.  It's home to more than 3 million people.  Bilbao is the largest city. 

No one knows where the Basques come from.  There is debate if they have been in Europe since the Stone Age or even earlier.  

Here's a short three-minute Rick Steves video that I found on YouTube that talks about Basque culture.

©Rick Steves

The Basque language is called Euskara, and it is spoken by about 25% of the population.  It's an official language along with either Spanish or French depending on which side of the Spanish-French border you're on.  Euskara is not related to any other language in the world. 

Euskara - Spanish - English

When I was in Madrid in 2015, I saw Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia museum.  While in the Basque Country we have a day trip planned to actually go see Guernica.  Here's another three-minute Rick Steves video about it.

©Rick Steves

The region has seen its share of troubles.  The Basque separatist group, ETA, which most countries labeled as a terrorist group, was active from 1959 and 2018.  They wanted a unified, independent Basque Country and led a violent campaign over the years.  About 850 people were killed prior to its last ceasefire.  I'm sure that there won't be any problems while we're there.

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