The Basics II (and final)

20 11 2009

So we have 7 territories and three political regions, two in Spain and one in France, that form the present Basque Country (in a wide sense) or Euskal Herria.  Two languages, Basque and Spanish. Basque spoken daily by around 500-800.000 people on both sides of the border. And 6 dialects for such a small number of speakers!! It´s possible to know the birthplace of a person by the way he speaks Basque.

Four capitals in Spain, Bilbao-Bilbo, San Sebastián-Donostia, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Iruña-Pamplona (the latter as capital of Navarra or Nafarroa, an autonomous community). The system in France is not as in Spain, divided into regions.

Excellent roads, very good public transport, a good public, universal and free health care system (as a matter of fact, when giving birth most women prefer public hospitals to private ones!!).

Currency: Euro (but many people still think in the old currency, pesetas). The rise of prices since the introduction of the Euro has been spectacular. Average salary per month (x 14 times, we get two extra wages on July and December), 1900 euros/month (gross).

Religion: food and eating. Then, Christian Catholics (95%). Churchgoers: less than 20%. A huge drop in religious beliefs and practices in the past 30 years.

Education: public and private. But…public education system has an agreement with many private schools (most of religious inspiration). Therefore, the Spanish or the Basque government pays for the education costs of all students and the wages of all teachers (except for those schools not included on this agreement, which are mostly foreign schools, like the French, or German, or American School). Difficult to explain, hard to believe, but that´s the way it is. So we have a “publivate” or “privublic” education system. Three linguistic models: A, all subjects taught in Spanish, and Basque as a subject (20%); B, 60% in Basque, 40% in Spanish (25%); D (there´s no C in Basque), 100% in Basque (55%). Something similar in Navarra, but inexistant in the French Basque Country. There are also privublic “ikastolas”, Basque cooperative schools, that teach only in Basque.

Airports: the most important one is in Bilbao, with many international flights (Europe, mainly). Then there´s a small one in SS (Hondarribia), a cargo one in Vitoria, one in Bayonne and one in Pamplona.

Cost of housing: huge, but dropping, thanks to the present 2008-2009-…recession. Still, unbeliable prices for housing. Most of the population live in apartments that they own. Apartments are completely equipped (washing machine in the kitchen, not on the basement).

Well, that´s almost all you need to know about the basic an boring aspects in Basque life. Now, let´s get in depth in some of them…