Andalucía is a land of extremes, with Spain’s driest areas of Almería in the east and its rainiest, the Sierra de Grazalema, in the southwest. Five hundred miles of coastlines span Andalucía, of which roughly three-quarters are sandy beaches.
Each of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain is proud of its uniqueness, but none is so fiercely nationalistic and culturally disparate from the rest as the País Vasco. The name itself, “the Basque Country,” embodies the proud, bold, individualistic spirit of the people here. For a land that has been historically isolated, whose people have fiercely resisted outside influence since Roman times, the years of cultural suppression under Franco, when the Basques were forbidden from speaking their own language and practicing their cultural traditions hit hard.
South of France, east of the País Vasco and at the historical center of Castilian Spain sits Navarre, among the smallest of the country’s autonomous communities but as dynamic in people, politics and heritage as they come. Basque people settled the region long before a succession of Roman, Gothic, Moorish and Frankish invaders gave way to the Spanish Catholics. As a result, a strong sense of Basque culture and the nationalism that comes with it are still apparent in the north and western parts of Navarre and in the capital of Pamplona.