Nestled in the valley between the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay, Iparralde is the French region of the Basque Country. Translated from Basque, it means the equivalent of “The North”. It is much smaller than its Spanish equivalent, with only 264 thousand inhabitants. The easternmost region of Laburdi (Labourd in French) is by far the most populated, and relies on primarily on tourism and services to fuel their economy. Nafarroa Beherea and Zuberoa are very sparsely populated and have a unique dialect of Basque.
The history of Iparralde is fascinating, with a variety of conflicts. People have lived here for thousands of years, with some evidence of Roman and Visigothic influence. In 1152, the region was to come under the influence of England after the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The French would come to control the region after the Hundred Years’ War, a change that would cripple the trading port. Since then, Iparralde has been under the control of the French government, who have repeatedly tried force the French language onto the Basques, from King Francis I in 1537 to DeGaulle. These efforts can be seen by the fact that only 26% of the population speaks Basque. Furthermore, the region, especially Zuberoa, has been a source of emigration since the collapse of factory industries in the times of the First Carlist War.
Recently, some of the jobs lost to the industrial revolution have come back, and some Basque pride has been found, with events like the Pastoral in Zuberoa and Ihauteriak in Laburdi highlighting a rich and long cultural history. Below are some of the pictures of these events, and some of the natural beauty of Iparralde.