Basques - Settlements

In the northern ecological zone there are major cities such as Bilbo (Bilbao), Donastia (San Sebastian), and Baiona (Bayonne), as well as regional manufacturing centers of considerable importance (Eibar, Mondragon, Irun). There are many coastal fishing villages with 5,000-10,000 inhabitants. The interior foothills have peasant villages ranging from 500 to 3,000 inhabitants. The village usually encompasses a river valley and the surrounding hillsides. The nucleus, with church, school, taverns, town hall, handball court or fronton (jai alai arena), general stores, and offices of a few professionals (doctor, veterinarian, pharmacist, postmaster) is located on the valley floor. The surrounding hillsides contain baserriak, or farmsteads (sing., baserria ), either isolated from one another or clustered into hamlets of ten or twelve dwellings surrounded by their collective landholdings. The dwellings are massive stone structures, often three stories tall. The ground floor is for animal stables, the second floor is living space, while the third is used to store hay and other crops.

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