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Euskadi (Basque) or El país Vasco (Spanish) means the Basque country. It is a country in two countries, Spain and France.

Pic courtesy of Seccowine

The region above is called Euskal Herria. It means ‘the land of people who speak Euskara’. Euskara is Basque word for Basque language. People who originally come from the regions are called the Basque. They have their own language and culture. However the autonomous Basque region which is officially acknowledged by Spanish government consists only of the region as shown below. The autonomous region is called Euskadi.

Pic courtesy of Commons Wikimedia

The rich history of Basque learns that this old tribe has lived for a long time in the region. Years passed by, the Basque gained the autonomy from the French and Spanish (the Iberian) kings. However with the time it had decreased. During Franco’s administration the Basque were repressed. They were not allowed to speak their own language nor practice their own culture. This has resulted in the establishment of ETA, the movement for the free Basque country. For some ETA is a terrorist group, for others ETA is a freedom fighter. In 1979 Basque region was officially acknowledged as an autonomous province of Spain.


Basque language
The Basque language is very old. Experts believe this language existed in pre historic time at both side of the Pyreneans. It was spoken even before the Iberian (ancestors of the Spanish people) settled in the Peninsula. The Basque language is originally a pre Indo-European language that has no connection with other languages.

Basque language sounds hard. It uses many R, K and Z. This is a text in Basque language to give you an impression:
Gizon-emakume guztiak aske jaiotzen dira, duintasun eta eskubide berberak dituztela; eta ezaguera eta kontzientzia dutenez gero, elkarren artean senide legez jokatu beharra dute. If you want to know more about this, how it sounds, visit Omniglot page about Euskara.

Basque trivia

  • The football club from Bilbao, Athletic Bilbao hires only Basque players.
  • Famous Football players from Basque origin are Xabi Alonso from Basque country in Spain, Didier Deschamps and Bizente Lizarazu from French Basque country.
  • Pelota, the traditional Basque sport is almost similar to squash.
  • The beret comes originally from Basque country. From there it spreaded to other regions in Europe.
  • When you are in the Basque country you don’t order tapas but pintxos.
  • Navarra province was free to officially join the Basque autonomous province but has failed to do so until today.

  • My basque experience
    When I was in Bilbao I had an excellent time interacting with the Basque people. During my last evening there I even participated in a Basque tradition.

    After dinner, my friends and I took a walk through Casco Viejo. All of the sudden, nearby Plaza Nueva, we heard people singing. The plaza was packed with locals singing traditional Basque songs.


    There were two guitarists, one accordionist, one drummer and one was behind the music panel. A leader sang and everybody sang along. Before I was really aware of what was going on, a friendly man gave me the book full of 200 Basque folk songs.

    He spoke something in Basque language which I didn’t understand. But hey, I solemnly sang along. The tune was easy to follow. After a while, I got the system. The public shouted the song they wanted to sing, the leader picked it up and the band started playing the music.

    Another man approached me in Spanish. We engaged in a conversation about the Basque country, its culture, language and food. He told me this singing session is a tradition in Bilbao. Every second Saturday of the month, Bilbaians start to gather at Casco Viejo around 8.00 pm. They walk through the alleys, picking up people and end in Plaza Nueva where they sing their folk songs.

    Standing there in the crowd I felt the spirit of the Basque people although I did not understand any single Basque word! They proudly sang together, they had fun together. Young and old participated with high spirit. This touched me deeply. I felt like I witnessed them preserving their culture realtime. Singing is a part of an oral tradition. I imagined the lyrics have been told from grandparents to parents to grandchildren. During the civil war doing this must have been dangerous.

    My instant guide enthousiastically warned me for the coming songs as soon as he recognized the intro. He screamed (otherwise I barely heard him): “Oh, this one is dramatic” “This one is heroic” “This one is about forbidden love” “This one is about the proud of Euskal Herria (Basque for Basque Country)”.

    This event lasted until 11.30 pm that night. It was ended with dancing. Our new friend from Bilbao took me dancing together with the public. I felt like I was in the middle of a travel programme on TV. I believed I was the only Asian there as people started asking question where I was from.

    This is me with the friendly Bilbaian. He highly recommended me to visit Bilbao during La Semana Grande in August. This is a yearly event full of culture, food and music all over the city. Perhaps I’d come with my husband and daughter.


    Agur Euskadi!

    Basque country tourism
    Euskadi Euskara


    20 thoughts on “Euskadi

    1. mbak Lorraine, ini postingannya menarik bangeet. AKu baru tahu ada negara ini. Yang bikin aku penasaran bangeet adalah bahasanya yang “has no connection with other languages”. Aku pernah iseng googling tabel semantik keterkaitan bahasa2 di negara EU dan Spanish & French masih terhubung dari akar Latin. trus ini ada negara di tengah2-nya yg ga kena pengaruhnya. heeeemmm. penasaran bangeeet!

      • Memang menarik karena pre historic bahasanya. Mayoritas bahasa di Eropa Barat itu berakar di keluarga bahasa Indo-Eropa (Germania, Latin, Nordic, Roman, Celtic dll) sementara Euskara (bahasa Basque) ngga ada hubungan sama sekali dengan bahasa diatas. Agak sama dengan bahasa Armenia yang juga tua.

        Mungkin karena nenek moyang orang Basque yang tinggal didaerah Pyrenea, dikelilingi gunung, jadi susah kontak sama suku lain. Aku masih harus baca banyak tentang ini.

        Sejak akhir 1990-an udah tenang seputar perjuangan Basque merdeka. Puncaknya tahun 1980-an waktu aku masih kecil ETA banyak aksi terror (bom di daerah wisata di Spanyol, penculikan pejabat tinggi dll). Aku lihat autonominya di Spanyol bagus. Hanya untuk free Basque susah karena orang Basque yang di Perancis gimana dong? Problematiknya sama seperti bangsa Kurdistan. Orang Kurdistan tinggal tersebar di 3 negara: Turki, Irak dan Syria.

        • Waaaa. Persebaran bangsa2 ini menarik ya mb. Jd efeknya ke bahasa soalnya. Aku malah belom pernah denger kisah bangsa kurdistan. Jd penasaran pgn googling baca2 ttg kurdistan

          • Salah satu trigger konflik di Siria sekarang itu bangsa Kurdistan yang diburu pemerintah Assad. Dulu Saddam Hussein konon pernah genocide bangsa Kurdistan di Irak dengan gas kimia Sarin. Sementara orang Kurdistan di Turki ditindas oleh pemerintah Turki dari jaman Ataturk sampe sekarang. Aku punya temen orang Kurdistan dari Turki. Denger cerita mereka tentang sejarah Kurdistan itu ruwet. Sesama orang Kurdistan dari ketiga negara tersebutpun ngga akur. Aku pingin tulis juga disini tapi aku pikir pembaca tidak tertarik 🙂

      • Eh Bhella, untuk jelasnya Basque country itu bukan negara, tapi tanah Basque. Maunya orang Basque sih mereka merdeka tapi susah terwujud karena wilayahnya Basque yang berada di dua negara. Maka dari itu tanah Basque punya otonomi khusus. Orang Basque boleh memakai bahasanya sebagai bahasa resmi disamping bahasa Spanyol. Otonomi Basque sama seperti provinsi Catalunya di Spanyol, letaknya di Barcelona dan sekitarnya.

          • Iya. Tanah Basque di Spanyol jadi provinsi autonom. Lumayan besar juga. Dalam bahasa Spanyol disebut el País Vasco, aku terjemahkan dalam bahasa Inggris jadi Basque country tapi artinya disini tanah Basque, bukan negara Basque yang berdaulat secara politik. Ada rakyat, ada pemerintahan tapi ngga ada wilayah yang berdaulat. Di Perancis Selatan (daerah Biarritz & Bayonne) juga ada provinsi autonom untuk orang Basque disana.

    2. Ah gile, sebagai pecinta Europe sejati gue merasa malu karena ga taw ini… Apalagi sebagai pecinta sepakbola, lebih malu lagi nggak taw fun fact ttg Atletico Bilbao itu. OMG Lor, you’re such an interesting person full of interesting facts! I wish I’d meet you someday and please please please bring me to museum!!! =D

      • No need to be ashamed because you did not know. Now you know it by reading this post. Thank you May, you might find me interesting but to some people I am a history nerd 😉

        I do hope we will meet one day. That would be an endless chatting session then. Oh and of course WE go visit a museum or more.

    3. Baru tau kalau Didier Deschamps itu keturunan Basque. Nama “Deschamps” gak mencerminkan nama Basque. Minggu lalu aku juga foto bareng salah satu orang Basque paling terkenal di dunia sepakbola, Unai Emery 🙂

      • Deschamps lahir dan besar di Bayonne, daerah Basque di Perancis. Nama bisa jadi Perancis tapi dia orang Basque & di banyak interview dia bilang dia bangga jadi orang Basque.

    4. Di eropa itu banyak ya negara di dalam (atau di antara) negara. Menariknya krn tiba2 ada negara yg belum pernah denger namanya.

      • Negara dalam negara di Eropa Barat itu Vatican dan San Marino. Kalau Basque itu bukan negara resmi hanya wilayah autonom di Spanyol dan Perancis. Bisa baca jawaban aku untuk Bhella disini.

    5. Di kantorku sekarang ada beberapa orang Basque Mbak, mereka sangat ramah dan doyan makan. Ngelihat postingan ini jadi makin pengen kesana.

      Btw, di Jakarta sejak tahun 84-an (kalau aku gak salah) ada tempat olahraga tradisionalnya Basque. Ternyata kota ini internasional banget. Aku nggak inget nama olahraganya, tapi mingdep aku tanya ke temen kantor ya.

      • Betul Tje. Ramah dan suka makan kaya orang Indonesia. Olah raga khas Basque itu namanya Pelota. Seperti squash tapi tanpa racket.

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