Republic of Euskadi
|Anthem: Eusko Abendaren Ereserkia|
|Official languages||Basque (Euskara), Spanish and French.|
|Recognized regional languages||English & african dialects|
|Unitary presidentialist republic|
Arantxa Mendizabal Arrate
|- September 9th, 1936|
- March 15th, 1951
- Water (%)
|- 82,345 km2 (21,417 km2 mainland)|
- 2011 census
|- 17.314 million+|
- 210.26 km2
- Per capita
- $757.644 billion
|HDI (2011)||.961 (very high) (Xnd)|
||Eusko Peseta () (EP)|
|Drives on the||Right|
The Republic of Euskadi (Basque: Euskadiko Errepublika) is a nation that was formed as an independent state on October 7, 1936, just months after the starting of the Spanish Civil War. Later, during World War II and in reliance on the Atlantic Charter, the Basque Territories in southwestern France as well as other departments and french overseas territories decided to join the Republic of Euskadi. However, it was not until 1951 that Euskadi got full international recognition and entered United Nations.
At present, the Republic of Euskadi is formed by the mainland, the overseas territories and two autonomous regions in Africa.
For current live issues see:
- Lehendakaritza - Office of the President;
- Euskadiko Agintaritzaren Aldizkaria - Euskadi official gazette;
- Eusko Press - Basque News Agency
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Politics
- 4 Foreign relations and military
- 5 Economy
- 6 Energy
- 7 Transport
- 8 Education
- 9 Science and technology
- 10 Culture
- 11 Media
- 12 Sports
Main article: History of Euskadi
According to some theories, Basques may be the least assimilated remnant of the Paleolithic inhabitants of Western Europe (specifically those of the Franco-Cantabrian region) to the Indo-European migrations. Basque tribes were mentioned by Roman writers Strabo and Pliny, including the Vascones, the Aquitani and others. There is considerable evidence to show their Basque ethnicity in Roman times in the form of place-names, Caesar's reference to their customs and physical make-up, the so-called Aquitanian inscriptions recording names of people and gods (approx. 1st century, see Aquitanian language), etc.
Geographically, the Basque Country was inhabited in Roman times by several tribes: the Vascones, the Varduli, the Caristi, the Autrigones, the Berones, the Tarbelli and the Sibulates. Many believe that except for the Berones and Autrigones they were non-Indo-European peoples, the ethnic background of the most westerly tribes is not clear due to lack of information. Some ancient place-names, such as Deba, Butrón, Nervión, Zegama, suggest the presence of non-Basque peoples at some point in protohistory. The ancient tribes are last cited in the 5th century, after which track of them is lost, with only Vascones still being accounted for, while extending far beyond their former boundaries, e.g. in the current lands of Álava and most conspicuously around the Pyrenees and Novempopulania.
The Cantabri, encompassing probably present-day Biscay, Cantabria, Burgos and at least part of Álava and La Rioja, lived to the west of Vascon territory in the Early Middle Ages, but the ethnic nature of this people, often at odds with and finally overcome by the Visigoths, is not certain. The Vascones around Pamplona, after much fighting against Franks and Visigoths, founded the Kingdom of Pamplona (824), inextricably linked to their kinsmen the Banu Qasi. All other tribes in the Iberian Peninsula had been, to a great extent, assimilated by Roman culture and language by the end of the Roman period or early period of the Early Middle Ages (though ethnic Basques extended well east into the lands around the Pyrenees until the 9-11th centuries).
In the Early Middle Ages (up to the 9-10th centuries) the territory between the Ebro and Garonne rivers was known as Vasconia, a blurred ethnic area and polity struggling to fend off the pressure of the Iberian Visigothic kingdom and Muslim rule from the south and the Frankish push from the north. By the turn of the millennium, after Muslim invasions and Frankish expansion under Charlemagne, the territory of Vasconia (to become Gascony) fragmented into different feudal regions, e.g. the viscountcies of Soule and Labourd out of former tribal systems and minor realms (County of Vasconia), while south of the Pyrenees, besides the above Kingdom of Pamplona, Gipuzkoa, Álava and Biscay arose in the current lands of the Southern Basque Country from the 9th century onward.
These westerly territories pledged intermittent allegiance to Navarre in their early stages, but were annexed to the Kingdom of Castile at the end of the 12th century, so depriving the Kingdom of Navarre of direct access to the ocean. In the Late Middle Ages, important families dotting the whole Basque territory came to prominence, often quarreling with each other for power and unleashing the bloody War of the Bands, only stopped by royal intervention and the gradual shift of power from the countryside to the towns by the 16th century. Meanwhile, the viscountcies of Labourd and Soule under English suzerainty were finally annexed to France after the Hundred Years' War at the defeat of Bayonne in 1451.
In Navarre, the civil wars between the Agramontese and the Beaumontese paved the way for the Spanish conquest of the bulk of Navarre from 1512 to 1521. The Navarrese territory north of the Pyrenees remaining out of Spanish rule was formally absorbed by France in 1620. In the decades after the Spanish annexation, the Basque Country suffered attempts at religious, ideological and national homogenization, coming to a head in the 1609-1611 Basque witch trials at either side of the border of the kingdoms.
Nevertheless, the Basque provinces still enjoyed a great deal of self-government until the French Revolution in the Northern Basque Country, when the traditional provinces were reshaped to form the current Pyrénées-Atlantiques department along with Béarn. On the Southern Basque Country, the Charters were upheld up to the civil wars known as the Carlist Wars, when the Basques supported heir apparent Carlos and his descendants to the cry of "God, Fatherland, King" (the Charters finally abolished in 1876). The ensuing centralised status quo bred dissent and frustration in the region, giving rise to Basque nationalism by the end of the 19th century, influenced by European Romantic nationalism.
Since then, attempts were made to find a new framework for self-empowerment. The occasion seemed to have arrived on the proclamation of the 2nd Spanish Republic in 1931, when a draft statute was drawn up for the Southern Basque Country (Statute of Estella), but was discarded in 1932.
The fight for independence
In 1936, two months after the onset of Spanish Civil War, Lehendakari José Antonio Aguirre proclaimed the independence of Euskadi. Since neither of the two sides in the conflict recognized Euskadi as an independent nation, the newly created Euzko Gudarostea (Army of Euskadi) and the Euzko Itsas Gudarostea (Auxiliar navy of Euskadi) fought against both rebel troops and communist/anarchist militias who were inside.
From the beginning, Euskadi received the support of the British government which supplied Euskadi with military equipment and air support.
Throughout the war Euskadi conquered and annexed the province of Navarra. Some months before the end of the war in 1939 Euskadi and the spanish national side signed an armistice motivated by the desire of General Franco not to displease the British and avoid a confrontation. However, Spain did not recognize the full sovereignty of Euskadi until 1978.
Shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War, World War II broke out. Although it is evident that the sympathy of the government and people of Euskadi were with the Allies, the Lehendakari and his government decided to remain neutral to avoid a new conflict in such a short time and also to avoid endangering the newly gained independence.
After the fall of France and in reliance on the recently signed Atlantic Charter, some departments of the French Basque Country and neighboring areas proclaimed the abandonment of Vichy France and their integration in Euskadi. Initially, the government of Euskadi made no move but in 1943, responding to pressure from the British gobernment Euskadi entered the war and supported by the Allies occupied the southwest departments of France. Soon after, the overseas territories of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Crocet Islands were integrated voluntarily in Euskadi. During this time, some units of the Euzko Gudarostea left for Africa to fight in the French colonies of Guinea and Gabon and occupying parts of them.
After the Second World War, France pushed for the former French territories were incorporated into France again. Based on the recognized right of self determination by the newly created United Nations, former French and Spanish territories expressed their willingness to remain in Euskadi. However, it was not until 1951 that Euskadi got full international recognition and entered United Nations.
From 1951 to nowdays, Euskadi has grown as a democratic and modern nation able to compensate its small size with an extraordinary technical and economical development based in science and engineering as well as some natural resources in the mainland and specially in the overseas territories.
The first years after achieving independence were devoted to nation building. On the one hand it was necessary to rebuild the economy battered by a decade of war and on the other hand it was necessary to reconstruct the national identity that had suffered centuries of contempt.
Economically, the national wealth in minerals promoted the creation of a powerful steel industry which still survives and in terms of national identity customs, language and symbols of Basque culture were recovered after long forgotten.
In 1970, Lehendakari Arbizu took power and under his leadership, the country's economy took off and Euskadi definitely became a modern European nation. Oil and bauxite of the African territories were once again the engine of the economy along with the traditional steel industry. However, after more than 20 years in power by the end of his term was full of corruption scandals and, above all, authoritarianism did not help placate the rebels in the African territories that would end with The Revolts of African Territories and the resigning of Arbizu in 1996.
From 1996 to 2000 the Euskadi Konstituzioa was ammended and a new era started in 2000 with the firs Lehendakari non member of EAJ, Ignazio Ziriza Arias (socialist party), who was in charge only until 2005. EAJ recovered power in 2005 with Eneko Olaizola Urreta and 2010 was the year when the first woman became Lehendakari and give the government again to EAJ.
To study the geography of Euskadi is very complex mainly because it is a nation whose territories, some of them islands, are spread across three continents. It is therefore necessary to address the study of geography, starting at major geographic units completely independent.
Euskadi is divided into three major geographical units and seven minor geographical regions:
- Euskal Herría (Mainland)
- Iparralde (the north side) is formed by the former french provinces of Lower Navarra, Labourd and Sole
- Hegoalde (the south side) is formed by the former spanish provinces of Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa and Alava
- Nafarroa is formed by the former spanish province of Navarra
- Itsasoz Haraindiko Eskualdeak (Overseas regions)
- Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy
- Maria Galante Island
- Crocet Islands
- Afrikako Autonomo Lurraldeak (African autonomous regions)
- Nyanga Lurraldeko Autonomo (Nyanga Autonomous Region)
- Boké Lurraldeko Autonomo (Boké Autonomous Region)
Main article: Euskadi administrative divisions
As with physical geography, political geography of Euskadi is determined by the historical and cultural differences between the territories that make up the country. However, since the independence of Euskadi successive governments have tried to adapt the administrative organization to a standard of operation and proximity to citizens.
After the administrative reforms that took place in the late 90's, the political administration of Euskadi takes place at four levels:
- Errepublika, (republic) covering all the nation
- Lurralde, (territory, region,...)
- Eskualde, (a kind of county) derived from ancient territorial divisions in Euskal Herria and functioning as constituencies during elections.
- Udalerri (municipality)
Euskadi is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the central government. Following the resignation of Lehendakari Arbizu in 1996, euskadiko political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1949 Euskadi Konstituzioa (Constitution of Euskadi) have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The 2000 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the Lehendakari.
1998-2000 Reform process
A constitutional reform process lasted from 1998 to 2000, with four constitutional amendments producing important changes. Among these are term limits of up to two five-year terms for the Lehendakari and measures to institute checks and balances.
The highest state institution is the Eusko Legebiltzarra Consultative Assembly (Parliament of Euskadi), whose functions previously included electing the president (since 2000 the president has been elected directly by the people). Under constitutional changes in 2000, the Eusko Legebiltzarra (EL) became a bicameral legislature, with the creation of the Lurraldeko Kontseilu (LK), in which each Lurralde is represented by 11 members, although its legislative powers are more limited than those of the Eusko Legebiltzarra (EL). Through his appointed Eusko Jaurlaritza (Basque Government), Lehendakari retains the authority to conduct the administration of the government.
The Lehendakari is selected directly by vote of the citizens for a maximum of two five-year terms. The presidential candidate is required to obtain a nationwide majority of non-blank votes at either the first or second round of balloting, which implies that the Lehendakari is somewhat supported by at least half of the voting population. Prior to 2000, they were chosen by Eusko Legebiltzarra. The last election was held 8 July 2010. The Lehendakari is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Euskadiko Indar Armatuak (Armed Forces of Euskadi) and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The Lehendakari heads the Eusko Jaurlaritza (Basque Government) and appoints a group of Sailburua (ministers) who are not required to be elected members of the legislature.
The highest representative body at national level is the Eusko Legebiltzarra Consultative Assembly (Parliament of Euskadi). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the Lehendakari, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the Lehendakari. Since 2000 the Eusko Legebiltzarra comprises two houses; the existing Eusko Legebiltzarra (EL), with 205 members, and the Lurraldeko Kontseilu (LK), with 77 members. The EL passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for four-year terms by proportional representation in multi-member constituencies. Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the EL's role in national governance. The LK is a new chamber for matters of regional management created after the african revolts in the early 90's and its members are directly elected in multi-member constituencies.
Judiciary branch and law enforcement
Euskadi uses a civil law system where laws are created and amended in Eusko Legebiltzarra and the system regulated through the Euskadiko Auzitegiak (Courts of Justice of (Euskadi). It consists on a three level structure:
- Auzitegi Goren. Supreme Court of 18 permanent judges and a Auzitegi Goren Epaimahaiburu. (Chief Justice).
- Lurraldeko Auzitegi. High regional courts in a number of seven.
- Eskualdeko Auzitegi. District courts in a number of twenty seven.
The judiciary, although traditionally a third branch of government, is independent of executive and legislative branches. While the Lehendakari nominates Chief Justice for office, their nomination must be approved by Eusko Legebiltzarra. Judiciary is exercised by professional judges and magistrates. Judges have security of tenure and may not be promoted (or demoted) without their consent. The charges in the Lurraldeko Auzitegi and Auzitegi Goren members are elected from among the judges who meet the minimum required by law.
The public prosecutors, on the other hand, takes order from the Minister of Justice. The status of public prosecutors and their ties to government are frequently topics of debate.
Law enforcement in Euskadi is carried out by the Ertzaintza at the national level, and at the local level every municipality is able to maintain their own municipal police. Only certain designated police officers at the national level have the power to conduct criminal investigations, and such investigations are supervised by investigative magistrates. Currently, Euskadi has one of the lowest crime rate in the world.
Foreign relations and military
Foreign relations of Euskadi
Main article: Foreign Relations of Euskadi
During its more than six decades of independence, Euskadi's foreign policy has always been characterized to maintain three key axix:
- To maintain a strong alliance with the UK and to a lesser extent the Netherlands (now Union of Benelux) and France
- The defense of European and Western values against totalitarianism
- To avoid any international interference in its internal affairs
Particularly intense has been the participation of Euskadi together with its NATO allies in the fight against Soviet communism during the Cold War and now against the new communism represented by DDR. Nowdays, foreign relations with democratic nations tend to be good.
Euskadi is a member of:
Military of Euskadi
Main article: Euskadiko Indar Armatuak
Since independence, national defense has been among the priorities of successive governments and citizens in Euskadi. After centuries of waiting for the desired time to be independent, homeland defense became something of vital importance to the Basque people in the first decades after independence. In addition, since the first time the government has always been willing to assist in the defense of allied nations and participate in international operations with allied armies.
Today Euskadiko Indar Armatuak are in the process of restructuring and redeployment while walking towards the goal of a more professional and perfect equiped armed forces. However, although the military is looking for a more professional units suitables to be deployed in international operations, defense of the territory remains proudly assumed by the Basque people who constantly keeps this premise in their collective ideology.
Conscription is compulsory for men between 18 to 44 (55 for officers) and the system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, including all personally assigned weapons, at home.
Main article: Economy in Euskadi
The economy of Euskadi is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state featuring a combination of free market activity and state ownership in certain key sectors. The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, such as the strategic energy and military ones.
Euskadi has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population. The welfare state makes public health care free, and parents have 9 months paid parental leave. Euskadi has a very low unemployment rate, currently 3.1% The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Euskadi are among the highest in the world. The egalitarian values of the society ensure that the wage difference between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most companies is much smaller than in comparable western economies. This is also evident in Euskadi´s low Gini coefficient. The standard of living in Euskadi is among the highest in the world. International organizations judge Euskadi to be one of the the world's most well-functioning and stable country.
The country (specially te african territories)is richly endowed with natural resources including petroleum, coal, hydropower, fish, forest, and metallic minerals. Industrial activities were traditionally centered on steel and shipbuilding, mainly due to the rich iron ore resources found during the 19th century around Bilbao. The Estuary of Bilbao was the center of Euskadi's industrial revolution during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. These activities decayed during the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. Nevertheless, after undergoing a restructuring process during the 1990s and the use of high technologies, the steel and shipbuilding industries still hold an important weight in the economy of Euskadi.
Today, the strongest industrial sectors of Euskadi are the aluminium industry, machine tool, aeronautics, telecom, new technologies and energy.
Economy in Euskadi is an export-oriented economy featuring a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labour force. Union's engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. In terms of structure, industry is characterized by a large, knowledge-intensive and export-oriented manufacturing sector.
Euskadi is a major shipping nation and has an important merchant fleet, with 927 basque-owned merchant vessels as well as e mid sized fishing industrie. Agriculture has a relative importance in the african territories, but in the global economy it only accounts for 4 percent of GDP and employment.
- Euskadiko Banku Zentrala (Central Bank of Euskadi)
- Eusko Peseta
- Bilboko Burtsa (Bilbao Sotck Exchange)
- Euskadi top companies
- Taxation in Euskadi
- Euskadiko Arrekontu Nazional (National Budget of Euskadi)
|Energy in Euskadi|
|Import / export (2)||Electricity
|Import / export (2)|
|Change 1995-2010||8.86 %||9.5 %||-8.93 %||-34.13 %||48.35 %||47.02 %||%|
|*(1) Primary energy is an energy form found in nature that has not been subjected to any conversion or transformation process. It is energy contained in raw fuels, and other forms of energy received as input to a system. Primary energy can be non-renewable or renewable energy. The concept of primary energy is used in energy statistics in the compilation of energy balances, as well as in the field of energetics. In this case means all the national energy including what is used to produce electricity and what is used to produce any other kind of work, for example, fuels used to move motors.|
*(2) Import of primary energy includes both energy for comsumption and for transforming in derivatives to be sold as secondary energy. Import data are considered negative values and export data are considered positive values.
From the beginning Euskadi has always been a nation that has needed imports of energy products. Throughout the entire 20th century even long before independence, powerful steel industry has used local coal, and mostly imported coal from basins in Asturias and specially Leon.
Since the independence, ensuring a safe and constant supply of energy that allows Euskadi to maintain the high level of industrial development has always been a priority of all governments. Until the 70s coal remained the main energy source, but mainly due to the increasing use of motor vehicles, oil and its derivatives grew rapidly in importance although coal remained the main source of electricity production, although its use as fuel in homes began to fall rapidly.
In the mid-80 natural gas started coming to industry, and soon became household relegating the use of coal to power generation and steel industry. At that time gas reached Euskadi from northern Europe through gas tankers. At present, the gas network Euskogasbide is interconnected with the European networks across France and the North African ones through Spain.
At the same tiem, in 1982, as the result of an extensive exploration campaign, the public company of hydrocarbons, Petronor had begun to build one platform for the extraction of gas in the "Gaviota Field 1" located off Bizcaia. A few years later, in 1986 two new gas platforms were built in the "Gaviota Field 2", located near the former. Early 90s, two platforms were built in the "Albatros Field 1". Currently only Albatros platforms continue to extract gas and the annual volumes extracted from the Cantabrian basin accounts for about 12% of annual Euskadi's gas consumption and is expected to reach 15% in next years due to new explorations.
Renewable energy accounts for 35% of Euskadi production of electricity specially from wind and hydroelectric power. Turbine City 2 is going to start mid 2013 in "Marie Galante" waters.
In recent years large reserves of oil and gas have been discovered in waters of the African territory of Nyanga. Three platforms are extracting oil from 2009, 3 more are under construction and Energiaren Euskal Erakundea (Basque Energy Agency) has opened a procedure for granting new licenses for exploration and exploitation. With currently low levels of use of petroleum and derivatives due to the implementation of the "Hydrogen Economy", it is predicted that by the end of 2012 Euskadi will becoming an oil exporter and the production could reach morethan 1 million bbl/day in 2015.
Hydrogen economy in Euskadi
The hydrogen economy is a proposed system of delivering energy using hydrogen. The term hydrogen economy was coined by John Bockris during a talk he gave in 1970 at General Motors (GM) Technical Center. Bockris's ideas were picked up by Patxi Urrutia, a professor at the University of Euskadi soon began to be disseminated to the Basque society. During the 80s the university sponsored numerous studies and projects to assess the feasibility of transforming energy policy in Euskadi and direct it towards making a hydrogen economy.
The milestone that changed history occurred in 1993 when the company NAtech, who had emerged as start-up of the university patented his first fuel cell. From that time and not without controversy for alleged scandals EAJ financing, the rise of the company NAtech in Euskadi led to the shift in government policy towards a hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen advocates promote hydrogen as a potential fuel for motive power (including cars and boats), the energy needs of buildings and portable electronics. Hydrogen is thus an energy carrier (like electricity), not a primary energy source (like coal). The feasibility of a hydrogen economy depends on issues of energy sourcing, including fossil fuel use, climate change, and sustainable energy generation.
With the new IGCC, almost 85% of the hydrogen used in Euskadi comes from them by the Kværner-process. The other 15% is obtained as byproduct in industrial processes. The state company Euskogasbide owns and operates the hydrogen pipeline net that carries the hydrogen to the bottling stations, road filling stations as well to the industries.
- Energiaren Euskal Erakundea
- Oil and natural gas in Euskadi
- Coal in Euskadi
- Electricity in Euskadi
- Turbine City
- Fuel Cell Technologies in Euskadi
- Integrated Coal Zero-Emission Plants
Main article: Education in Euskadi
Children aged 2–5 years old are guaranteed a place in a public kindergarten. Between the ages of 6 and 16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school. After completing the 9th grade, about 70% of the students continue with a three-year upper secondary school, which can lead to both a job qualification or entrance eligibility to university. The school system is largely financed by taxes.
The government treats public and independent schools equally by introducing education vouchers in 2002. Anyone can establish a for-profit school and the government must pay new schools the same amount as state schools get. School lunch is free for all students in Euskadi which usually includes one or two different kinds of hot meals, a meal for vegetarians, salad bar, fruit, bread, and milk and/or water for drink. Some schools, especially kindergartens and middle schools, even serve breakfast for free to those who want to eat before school starts.
Higher education in Euskadi is offered by a range of universities and collegues. Acceptance is offered after finishing upper secondary school with general study competence.
Euskadi is one of the nations with higher levels of tertiary education degree holders. Public education is virtually free, with an academic year with two semesters, from August to December and from January to June.
Science and technology
The main sport in the Basque Country is football. The top teams Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Osasuna, SD Eibar, Deportivo Alavés, Real Unión and Barakaldo]] play in the Profesionalen Futbol Liga. Athletic Bilbao has a policy of hiring only Basque players. Real Sociedad used to practice the same policy, until they signed Irish striker John Aldridge in the late 80's.
Football is not that popular in Iparralde but the region has produced two well known and successful football players, Bixente Lizarazu and Didier Deschamps.
Cycling as a sport is popular in the Basque Country. Cycling races often see Basque fans lining the roads wearing orange, the corporate color of the teleco Euskaltel, coining the term the orange crush during the Pyrenees stages of the Tour de France. Miguel Indurain was born in Atarrabia and he won 5 French Tours. Fellow Basque cyclist Abraham Olano has won the UCI Road World Championships.
Two professional, UCI ProTeam cycling teams hail from the Basque Country, Euskaltel and Movistar. The french Caisse d'Epargne cycling team traces its history back to the Banesto team that included Indurain. The Euskaltel-Euskadi cycling team is commercially sponsored, but also works as an unofficial Basque national team and is partly funded by the Basque Government. Its riders are either Basque, or at least have grown up in the Basque cycling culture, present and former members of the team have been strong contenders in the Tour de France and many other international competitions. Team leaders have included riders such as Iban Mayo, Haimar Zubeldia, Samuel Sánchez and David Etxebarria.
In the north, rugby is another popular sport with the Basque community. In Biarritz, the local club is Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, the name referencing the club's Basque heritage. The most famous Biarritz & Basque player is the legendary fullback Serge Blanco, Michel Celaya that captained both Biarritz and Euskadi. Current rugby star Imanol Harinordoquy is also a Biarritz & Basque player.
Mountaineering is popular due to the mountainous terrain of the Basque Country and its proximity to the Pyrenees. Alberto Iñurrategi Iriarte (Aretxabaleta, 1968) is one of the most respected mountaineers in the world. The Basque mountaineer has managed to crown the 14 eight thousands in the world, all of them "Alpine" style, i.e. without oxygen and few camps and without Sherpas. This is something only 8 people on the planet have achieved. Juanito Oiarzabal (from Vitoria) holds the world record for number of climbs above 8,000 meters, with 21. There are also great sport climbers in the Basque Country, such as, Josune Bereziartu and Iker Pou, one of the most versatile climbers in the world. Patxi Usobiaga, proclaimed world champion in Xining, China, 2009. Edurne Pasaban is already the first woman climbing the fourteen eight-thousanders.
Basketball and handball are also popular sports in Euskadi and some of the top european teams are from Euskadi.
In recent years surfing has taken off on the Basque shores, and Mundaka and Biarritz have become spots on the world surf circuit.