BASQUES

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WHO ARE THE BASQUES?

The Basques are an indigenous ethnic group who primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country, 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.

Since the Basque language is unrelated to Indo-European, it has long been thought to represent the people or culture that occupied Europe before the spread of Indo-European languages there. A comprehensive analysis of Basque genetic patterns has shown that Basque genetic uniqueness predates the arrival of agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula, about 7,000 years ago. It is thought that Basques are a remnant of the early inhabitants of Western Europe, specifically those of the Franco-Cantabrian region. Basque tribes were already mentioned in Roman times by Strabo and Pliny, including the Vascones, the Aquitani, and others. There is enough evidence to support the hypothesis that at that time and later they spoke old varieties of the Basque language.

In the Early Middle Ages the territory between the Ebro and Garonne rivers was known as Vasconia, a vaguely defined cultural area and political entity struggling to fend off pressure from the Iberian Visigothic kingdom and Muslim rule to the south, as well as the Frankish push from the north. By the turn of the first millennium, the territory of Vasconia fragmented into different feudal regions, such as Soule and Labourd, while south of the Pyrenees the Castile, Pamplona and the Pyrenean counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe, Ribagorza (later Kingdom of Aragon), and Pallars emerged as the main regional entities including Basque population in the 9 and 10th century.

WHERE IS BASQUE?

Basque map

The Basque region is divided into at least three administrative units, namely the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre in Spain, and the arrondissement of Bayonne and the cantons of Mauléon-Licharre and Tardets-Sorholus in the département of Pyrénées Atlantiques, France. The autonomous community, known as in English: Basque Autonomous Community, is made up of the three Spanish provinces of Álava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa. The corresponding Basque names of these territories are Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, and their Spanish names are Álava, Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa.

CULTURE

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The culture of Basque Country is different from the French and the Spain cultures they have their own culture and language that’s unlike others. Traditional Basque plays known as pastorales, which possibly related to medieval mystery plays, are still performed at festivals. In the fine arts, well-known Basques include writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, composer Maurice Ravel, and sculptor Eduardo Chillida.

HISTORY

basque history

The Basque history is still largely unverified. Due to similarities in place names and personal names, the Basques are related to a people called the Vascones that lived in Northern Spain. The Basques get their name from this tribe. The Basque people had already lived in the Pyrenees for thousands of years when the Romans invaded the Iberian peninsula in approximately the first century BCE.

FLAG

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The Basque flag was created in 1894 by Sabino Arana (founder of Basque nationalism). The name of the flag in the Basque language is ikurrina. Although the meaning of this word is flag, it is actually used only for the Basque flag. While not a flag of a nation-state, it nevertheless serves as a unifying symbol for Basque everywhere. Basque people prefer to use the Spanish word bandera for other flags (when they are speaking in Basque, of course).