The Basques Essay

1157 words - 5 pages

The Basque people can be found throughout the world with one of the major areas that of the Spain and Southern France. The focus of this paper will be on the Basque people of North Western Spain and South Western France. This area is known as País Vasco in Spanish and Euskadi in Basque. It is a small region that is about the size of Rhode Island that is straddled between the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Pyrenees Mountains in the East. The Basque Country covers an area of 20,664 kilometers between France and Spain and is divided into seven districts for political and administrative purposes which can be seen below in figure 1. "At present, more than 2 million people live in the Basque Country, giving a figure of around 300 inhabitants per square kilometer." (Country of contrasts).During the twentieth century the Basque economy was built on the steel and shipbuilding industries as well as metal processing shops. Today some of the major economic industries of the Basque region include tourism, livestock farming, and fishing. "In a Europe-wide context, the Basque economy has improved significantly over the last decade or so. And to prove the point, figures released recently by the Basque statistics agency Eustat show that per capita income, in terms of purchasing power parity, increased from 89.62% of the European Union average in 1990 to 105% in 2002." (Euskal Herria). The Euskadi's autonomous community is the second Spanish economic pole after Catalonia and it has a 450 million euro budget.The Basque economy helps the national economy in numerous ways including making up 4.9% of the Spanish population, producing 6.38% of the Spanish GDP, producing 8. 27% of Spanish exports, and creating 8.9% of the state's industrial production." (Euskal Herria). There are also numerous problems with the economy of the region include high unemployment, the growth of temporary and part-time jobs, and the shutting out of young Basques from opportunity. Many Basques believe this is due to national membership in the European Union. "EU membership has taken toll in the Basque industry, and enterprises have lost their quota in the national market as well as their export capacity." (Isturitz). With France and Spain joining the European Union in 1954 and 1986, many Basques have seen an economic decline in their territories. "The reduction in the number of fishing vessels, cuts in the agricultural production, and the closing of industrial plants, which were the engines of the economy in the territories in Spain, are the most visible impact of European integration on the Basque industry as a result of EU imposed quotas." (Isturitz).The Basques call their language euskara which literally means one who has Basque. "In the Middle Ages it was spoken throughout the entire territory of the Basque Country, the region which is historically, ethnically, and culturally Basque." (FAQ). It is considered to be one of the National languages of Spain and has been since 1979...

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