Nation profile

Basque Country
Euskal Herria

General information
Population
2.900.000 inhabitants (est)
Area
20.500 km² (est)
Institutions
Parliaments and governments of Euskadi and Navarre; Agglomeration Community of the Basque Country (Iparralde)
Major cities
Iruñea, Bilbo, Donosti, Gaseiz, Baiona
State administration
Kingdom of Spain (Euskadi, Navarre and Castille and León (Treviño enclave)) and French Republic (Northern Basque Country or Iparralde)
Territorial languages
Basque, Spanish, Occitan
Official languages
Basque (Euskadi, Navarre), Spanish (Euskadi, Navarre, Treviño), French (Northern Basque Country)
Major religion
Christianity (Catholicism)
National day
Aberri Eguna (Easter)

Presentation

The Basque Country is a country in Western Europe, located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, where the Basque people live. Among other aspects, the Basque people is defined by the use of their unique language, and the maintenance of a distinct culture and identity. Basque nationalism, since the 19th century, affirms that the Basque people constitute a nation, and upholds its right to independence.

The Basque Country is organised into seven historical territories (herrialdes). Each of them had its own government institutions in pre-modern times. The four herrialdes under Spanish administration of Araba, Biscay, Gipuzkoa and Navarre have preserved them, albeit evolved, until the present day. The three herrialdes under French administration saw such institutions disappear during the French Revolution or shortly before —the Biltzar of Lapurdi, the Grand Corps and Silviet of Zuberoa, and the Estates of Lower Navarre.

Language

Basque is the traditional language of the Basque people. It currently has around 750,000 speakers. It is an official language in Euskadi and Navarre, and it is officially recognized in the Basque territories under French administration. Euskaltzaindia is the institute regulating the language.

Basque is a language of great interest for linguists, as it has not yet been possible to prove whether it is related to any other known language.

The language traditionally spoken on the northern coast of Lapurdi (Baish Ador) is Occitan.

Politics and administration

The herrialdes of Araba, Biscay and Gipuzkoa make up the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, also known as Euskadi, since 1979. Each of the three herrialdes has its own Assembly. Navarre has been constituted since 1982 as a Foral Community. Each of those government institutions holds different degrees of legislative, executive and fiscal autonomy within the Kingdom of Spain.

The remaining three herrialdes (known collectively as Iparralde) have had, since 2017, their own government body, the Agglomeration Community of the Basque Country, with executive autonomy over some areas. Iparralde is the western part of the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, which in turn is integrated into the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Territory: Navarre
Population: 647,554 inhabitants (2018)
Area: 10.391 km²
Capital: Iruñea/Pamplona
Territorial language: Basque in the north, Spanish in the south
Official language: Basque and Spanish
President: María Chivite, PSN-PSOE (since 2019)
Political system: Autonomous Community within the Kingdom of Spain
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2015 election). 50 members:
  • Navarra Suma (electoral alliance of Navarrese People Union, Popular Party and Citizens' Party) (pro-autonomy and centralist, centre-right20
  • Socialist Party of Navarre (PSN-PSOE, pro-autonomy, centre and centre-left11
  • Geroa Bai (sovereignist, centre-left) 9
  • EH Bildu (pro-independence, left) 7
  • Podemos (federalist, centre-left and left) 2
  • Izquierda-Ezkerra (I-E, federalist, centre-left and left) 1
Electoral system: proportional 
Government: coalition of PSN-PSOE, Geroa Bai and Podemos
Degree of autonomy
The Navarrese Autonomous Community is one of the most self-governed administrative entities within the Spanish state thanks to its “foral system”, that is, its own juridic and administrative organization (including its own fiscal system) which, differently from the rest of nations in the state, did not lose after joining the Kingdom of Spain.

Territory: Euskadi
Area: 7.234 km²
Population: 2,189,534 inhabitants (2016)
Capital: Gasteiz/Vitoria
Territorial language: Basque and Spanish
Official language: Basque and Spanish
President: Iñigo Urkullu, PNV (since 2012)
Political system: Autonomous Community within the Kingdom of Spain
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2016 election). 75 members:
  • Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV, pro-autonomy and sovereignist, centre-right28
  • Bildu (pro-independence, left) 18
  • Elkarrekin Podemos (federalist and confederalist, centre-left and left) 11
  • Socialist Party of Euskadi (PSE-PSOE, pro-autonomy, centre and centre-left) 9
  • Popular Party (PP, pro-autonomy and centralist, centre-right and right) 9
Electoral system: Proportional
Government: PNV
Degree of autonomy
Together with Catalonia and Galicia, Euskadi was among the first territories to get its own Statute of Autonomy in the system of Autonomus Communities (1979). It has devolved powers in several areas and its own tax system.


Territory: Iparralde
Area:
 2.967 km² 
Population: 309,723 inhabitants (2014)
Capital: Baiona/Bayonne
Territorial language: Basque and Occitan 
Official language: French
Political system: Agglomeration Community of the Basque Country (intercommunality body bringing together most of the Basque municipalities in Iparralde and a few Occitan municipalities). Together with the former province of Bearn, it makes up the French department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, which belongs to the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Links

Politics
Government of Euskadi euskadi.eus
Government of Navarra navarra.es
Agglomeration Community of the Basque Country communaute-paysbasque.fr
Language and Culture
Royal Academy of the Basque Language euskaltzaindia.eus
Kontseilua kontseilua.eus

(Last updated April 2020)