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Basque Country

 
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Geography

A land of contrasts

Map of the Basque country in europe

Set in one of the world's more temperate zones, the Basque Country has a wonderfully mild climate with few extremes as regards temperature or weather conditions. The climate, the sea's influence and an appealing mixture of villages, mountains, hills and abundant greenery make the Basque Country a place of natural surprises.

Plentiful rain waters a naturally fertile land spread out on either side of the western prolongation of the Pyrenees, which divides the Basque Country into two different microclimates and social areas.

The more northerly microclimate is a thin stretch of land overlooking the Bay of Biscay. This part of the Basque Country has long been witness to the arduous, fruitful and at times dangerous relationship between men and the sea. It has also helped to shape some major cities and towns, giving rise to much business, industrial and financial activity.

The southern half of the Basque Country, bordering on the Ebro basin, has a Mediterranean microclimate: the rains drain off into the Ebro after fertilising an area full of wide-open spaces. The area as a whole, much less affected by urban development, is more agricultural than the northern part; smaller, more isolated villages abound.

In line with its traditions and rights, the Basque Country is a confederation in which each of the three Historic Territories, Alava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, has its own administration, known as the Diputación Foral or Provincial Council, and its legislative body, the Juntas Generales or General Assembly. Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of Alava. Capital of the Basque Autonomous Region and hosting the Parliament, it is an urban model too. Bilbao, capital of Bizkaia, is the industrial and financial capital of the country and Donostia-San Sebastián, modern and elegant city and cultural capital, has one of the best natural landscapes in the world.