Basque Country 101
We enjoy introducing clients and friends to the Basque Country – one of the places that the Word Connection team calls home.
While many of our clients know and love Biarritz, there are always a few who don’t. So, please indulge us as we introduce the birthplace of Word Connection: the Basque Country!
Where is Basque Country?
First of all, the Basque Country (in Basque: Euskal Herria) today runs from the Pyrenees to the Bay of Biscay. The area spans a large territory from Bilbao in the south to Bayonne in the north.
One of Europe’s oldest ethnic groups
Historians believe that the Basques arrived in southwestern Europe before Indo-European migrations around 5,000 years ago. While little is known of the Basque people’s origins, they have survived invasions from the Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, French and Spanish.
Another little-known fact is that Basques became prominent explorers and shipbuilders. In fact, they were among the first to discover and commercialize whaling. As early as the 1300s, Basque whalers may have sailed along the Canadian coast. Most noteworthy among Basque sailors may be Juan Sebastián de Elcano, who was the first captain to circumnavigate the globe.
A distinct language and culture
Because of their long-standing cultural identity, the Basque language is widely spoken here. The Basque language, Euskera, is the oldest language in Europe. Today, there are seven different dialects.
Why we love it here (and why you should visit!)
Along with a deeply rooted history, the Basque Country offers a high quality of life and a wide variety of sports, gastronomy and culture.
Sport and surf
Basque beaches boast world-class surfing (just 10 minutes from our headquarters!). In the summer, tourists flock from all over the world for surf competitions and sport in the waves.
Meanwhile, the mountains draw skiers and hikers year round. This is one of the few places in the world where you can surf and ski in the same day.
Also noteworthy is the international sport pelota (a popular variation is cesta punta), which originated in the Basque Country. A hybrid between handball and squash, the fast-paced sport draws spectators from around the globe.
Food and drink
Like the wide variety of sports, the Basque culinary scene is equally diverse. As a result, you can choose from pinxtos (tapas), sheep’s cheese, axoa (lamb stew), Espelette pepper (a mild chile pepper) and the ever-popular basquaise (a dish with tomatoes and red peppers), to name a few options. Likewise, local beverages range from cider to local beers and wine.
A dynamic economy
Because of the culture and gastronomy, it’s no surprise that tourists flock to the area. While tourism is important, the robust economy is largely service-based with important manufacturing, transport and car industry exports.
A vibrant blend of languages and cultures
Along with having a strong economy, the Basque Country is distinctly multicultural. Above all, the area is Basque, but French and Spanish cultures also co-exist here today. Certainly, a part of the multiculturalism also stems from a long-standing tradition of welcoming holiday-seekers from Russia, the United Kingdom and all over Europe.
We set up our headquarters in Biarritz in 2015. Even then, we knew we wanted to find a way to share the Basque Country with our clients. So, to do just that, we recently added a custom VW Word Connection van to our team as a way to show clients where we live. Come visit and we’ll be pleased to introduce you to Basque Country!