The Basque Country or Euskadi is a Spanish autonomous community, considered a historical nationality, located on the eastern end of the Cantabrian Sea coast, bordering France. It is made up of three provinces, Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa and Álava, with the status of historical territories according to the autonomous system. The most populated city in the Basque Country is Bilbao, which makes up a metropolitan area of about one million inhabitants, where about half of the 2.16 million inhabitants of the community reside. In the past, the provinces that make up the current Basque Country were also known as Basque Provinces, Provincial Provinces, Exempt Provinces, Basque Provinces, or simply, Vascongadas.
At present, the Basque Autonomous Community denomination is frequently used, especially in the autonomous community of Navarra itself, since the Basque Country and Basque Country denominations have also been used historically, since its creation with the Euzkadi script in the 19th century. First, and before 1897 the second, to name a concept different from that of the autonomous community, that of Vasconia or Euskal Herria. The Basque Country has a millenary history of uncertain origins, and its own language, Euskera, is the oldest language in Europe still spoken today and the only one isolated from the continent, which is why the Basque Country has aroused the interest of linguists, anthropologists and historians from around the world. The origin of the Basque fueros dates back to the pacts by which Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa and Álava agreed to join the Crown of Castile, together with the charter of the villas and later the ordinances of the brotherhoods of Alava and Guipuzcoa within the Crown of Castilla.
These fueros are the foundation of the historical rights recognized by the Spanish Constitution. It was one of the main industrial centers of Spain during the 19th century, due to the abundance and quality of Biscayan iron. In the 20th century, the Basque Country obtained its first Statute of Autonomy in 1936, of scarce validity. The Franco dictatorship accused Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa of being "treacherous provinces" and deprived them of their statutory regime, retaining those of Álava and Navarra.
After the death of Franco, the Basque Country approved its current Statute of Autonomy, recovered to a large extent its institutions and statutory rights, while undergoing a process of strong industrial restructuring that was very aggravated but that allowed the community to go from being a of the regions of Spain with a higher unemployment rate to be one of the least. The Statute of Autonomy recognizes two official languages, Castilian and Euskera. Its basic institutions are the Parliament and the Basque Government, based in the city of Vitoria. The Basque Country also has, for historical reasons, like Navarra, a particular tax regime protected by the Constitution, which allows it to collect its own taxes. Nowadays, the Basque Country has one of the most dynamic economies in Spain, being one of the regions with the largest industrial fabric. In 2015, the average salary of the Basque Country was € 1950, the highest in all of Spain.
The Basque Country has followed a model of industrial hyperspecialization, inspired by the German mittelstand model, and has dozens of SMEs that are leaders at a global scale in its specific business area, with a human development index of 0.916 in 2015, well above the national average and similar to countries such as Canada or the Netherlands. It has the third lowest unemployment rate in Spain, only behind the Balearic Islands and Cantabria. The Basque Country is also the autonomous community with a higher percentage of the population with higher education, 38.6% in 2017.