Society

Quality of life in Biscay has registered an obvious and constant growth during the last two decades, according to the 2012 Report about life conditions and social well-being, carried out by the Basque Statistics Institute (Eustat).

Quality of life not only depends on palpable factors, usually related to economy, health, educationor safety. It is also supported on impalpable aspects, as culture, roots, heritage or identity signs, among others. The balanced mixture of these factors allows developing a high satisfaction grade orwell-being in the citizens.

In this sense, the inhabitants of the Basque Country set their level of life satisfaction in a very similar scale to the citizens from countries as Switzerland or Norway, and over Sweden, Island, Holland, Denmark or Finland, if we take as reference for this affirmation the Index for a Better Life carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In the section on Safety, the OECD Regional Well-Being Index grants to the Basque Country a score of 10 points, the maximum possible.

We can assert that there is a notable quality of life in Biscay, a fact that is reflected in the high longevity of its population that exists in all its provinces.

In fact, the life expectancy of women in the Basque Country  is the highest in the European Union.

Basque citizens, in general, enjoy a good balance between personal and labour life, which means more time for leisure and personal-familiar care. 

Language

Two official languages co-exist in the Basque Country: Spanish and Basque, the oldest language in Europe, which has nothing to do with any other language in the world.

Basque, the language that characterises us.

Euskera is the oldest living language in Europe. Most linguists, experts and researchers say so. Euskera is a very old language whose origins remain unknown. Renowned linguists and historians believe that it can be the direct descendant of the language spoken by the dwellers of the caves of Altamira, Ekain or Lascaux.

The Basque language’s origins date back to the Neolithic, but there is evidence that it could be even older. In fact, it could be at the seeds of articulate language.

Currently, Euskera is spoken by 37% of the Basque people, so there are about a million euskaldunak, a Basque word meaning ‘Euskera speakers’, who live in the Basque territories on both sides of the Pyrenees. Six out of ten Basque citizens will speak Basque in 2036.

Here some Basque expressions we like to use everyday: ¨Ongi etorri¨ (welcome),¨ eskerrik asko¨ (thank you), ¨kaixo¨ (hello), ¨egun on¨(good morning), ¨gabon¨(good night)  y ¨agur¨ (goodbye).

Currency

Euskadi belongs to the Eurozone, which means the local currency is the euro. With a few euro, you can buy a slice of our land to take back home: Idiazabal cheese, txakoli wine, canned anchovies or tuna, traditional sweet treats from Bilbao like Carolinas, rice cakes or butter sweet rolls, San Antonio sweet rolls form Urkiola, sheep milk curd from Arraita or Durangaldea…

Ceramic or wood handicrafts also make good gifts to remember your trip to Euskadi by. And you can always buy a txapela or beret, available in any town or village in Bizkaia.

Time

Bizkaia uses Central European Time (GMT+01:00) and Central European Summer Time (daylight saving time, GMT+02:00). People in Bizkaia like to have a mid-morning snack that they call hamaiketako, filling their bellies until lunch at 2 or 3pm. In general, they also tend to have a late dinner, at 9 or 10pm.

Basque people love bar-crawling – under the name poteo or txikiteo. They meet with friends and have a glass of beer, wine or txakoli in each bar. Pintxos were born as a side dish to the drinks. Now these small bites are a Basque culinary attraction in their own right.

Climate

Amanecer en el monte Gorbea

The weather throughout the year

Bizkaia has a temperate climate, with moderate rainfall and mild temperatures all year round. The coastal areas and Gran Bilbao, which is close to the sea, have a low annual temperature range. The year is divided into four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter – without clear boundaries or transitions between them.

Rain is quite common in Bizkaia, either in the form of drizzle or sirimiri, or as heavier rain. The bright green hues of the region are the result of this ever-present rain. Spring and summer, however, are good seasons for outdoor activities.

Gastronomy

Pintxos

When coming to Bizkaia, you should be ready to enjoy with all five senses: flavours that are saluted all over the world; sea, iron and grass smells; the sounds of a language with a strong identity; and the most avant-garde designs.

There are plenty of restaurants, grillrooms, cider houses and wineries where you can have traditional dishes. A grillroom or asador is the right place to eat charcoal-grilled meat or fish. For an experience in haute cuisine, Bizkaia is peppered with Michelin-starred restaurants.