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Who are the Basques?


Who are the Basques?

The Basques are a Southwestern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitanians. They are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, an area traditionally known as the Basque Country (Basque: Euskal Herria)—a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.

The Basque language

Basque (Basque: euskara) is a language spoken by Basques and others of the Basque Country. Linguistically, Basque is a language isolate (unrelated to any other existing languages). The Basque language is spoken by 28.4% (751,500) of Basques in all territories. Of these, 93.2% (700,300) are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 6.8% (51,200) are in the French portion.

The Basque culture

The Basques have a rich and diverse culture that includes traditions such as fueros (local laws), bertsolaritza (improvised oral poetry), pastoral (theatre of Soule), beret (headwear), mus (card game), Basque dance, mythology, cuisine, festivals and sports. Some of the most famous symbols of Basque identity are the flag (ikurriña), the coat of arms (zazpiak bat), the oak tree of Gernika (Gernikako Arbola) and the lauburu (Basque cross).

The Basque history


The Basque culture

The origin and history of the Basques are still a matter of debate and controversy among scholars. Some theories suggest that they are descendants of the prehistoric inhabitants of Western Europe who spoke languages related to ancient Aquitanian and Iberian. Other theories propose that they have a Celtic or Indo-European origin. The Basques have been involved in various historical events such as the Roman conquest, the Visigothic invasion, the Muslim invasion, the Reconquista, the Carlist Wars, the Spanish Civil War and the Basque conflict. The Basques have also contributed to the exploration, colonization and cultural development of many regions around the world, especially in Latin America.

The Basque Country


The Basque history

The Basque Country is the name given to the home of the Basque people, a region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of northern Spain and south-western France. The Basque Country is divided into three main political entities: the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre in Spain, and the Northern Basque Country in France. The Basque Country has its own institutions, culture, language and identity, but it is not a sovereign state. The Basque Country covers an area of 20,947 km and has a population of about 3.1 million people.

The Basque Autonomous Community

The Basque Autonomous Community (Basque: Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa; Spanish: Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco) is an autonomous community of Spain. It includes the provinces (and historical territories) of Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa, located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering on the autonomous communities of Cantabria, Castile and León, La Rioja, and Navarre. The Basque Autonomous Community is enshrined as a ‘nationality’ within the Spanish State in its 1979 statute of autonomy, pursuant to the administrative acquis laid out in the 1978 Spanish Constitution. The statute provides the legal framework for the development of the Basque people on Spanish soil. The Basque Autonomous Community has its own parliament, government, president, police force, education system, health service and tax system. The official languages are Basque and Spanish. The capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz, but the largest city is Bilbao.

Navarre

Navarre (Basque: Nafarroa; Spanish: Navarra) is a foral autonomous community of Spain. It is located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering on France and the autonomous communities of Aragon, La Rioja and the Basque Autonomous Community. Navarre has a special status within Spain as a foral community, which means that it has its own historical rights and privileges that are recognized by the Spanish Constitution. Navarre has its own parliament, government, president, police force, education system, health service and tax system. The official languages are Spanish and Basque (co-official only in the Basque-speaking area). The capital city is Pamplona.

The Northern Basque Country

The Northern Basque Country (Basque: Iparralde; French: Pays basque nord) is the part of the Basque Country that lies entirely within France, specifically as part of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département of France. It includes three provinces: Labourd (Lapurdi), Lower Navarre (Nafarroa Beherea) and Soule (Zuberoa). The Northern Basque Country does not have any official status or recognition as a political entity within France. It is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and follows the French administrative system. The official language is French, but Basque is also spoken by some people. The largest city is Bayonne.

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