Basque Country (greater region)
Description[change | change source]
It is the home of the Basque people. It is at the western end of the Pyrenees on the Bay of Biscay. Its boundaries are complicated, as it consists of seven districts: four within Spain and three within France.
History[change | change source]
Origins[change | change source]
The first written information about the Basque Country is from the Roman times, when the Basque people already spoke their own language. During the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Basque Country was isolated from the invading Goths.
Middle Ages[change | change source]
During the Muslim invasion of Southern Europe, the Basque Country split in two: the Castillian and the Navarran lands. A war with France later split the Navarran zone in two.
After the Reconquista, the Castillian Basque lands and Navarra became part of the new country: Spain. Since then, Basque people from the Spanish area of the Basque Country have had their own government and have fought to gain the northern part of the Basque Country from France.
Now[change | change source]
The fourth Basque district in Spain (Navarra) is its own separate autonomous community of Spain.
The three districts in the North (French) Basque Country are Lapurdi (Labourd), Nafarroa Beherea (Basse-Navarre) and Zuberoa/Xiberoa (Soule).
Population[change | change source]
The entire region has a surface area of 20,664 km2 (7978 sq mi). The Autonomous Community of the Basque Country has 7,234 km2 (2793 sq mi), and its population is about 2,000,000—about 5% of the total population of Spain. Basque and Spanish are spoken, and its largest city is Bilbao although the capital is Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Famous people[change | change source]
- Miguel de Unamuno
- Maurice Ravel (through his mother)
- Che Guevara (through his mother)
- St. Ignatius Loyola
- Louis Daguerre
- Pío Baroja