Basque Country


Basque Country
The Basque Country (called Euskal Herria by its inhabitants) is a region in South-West Europe, that is contained within the borders of France and Spain.
Description.
It is the home of the Basque people. It is located at the western end of the Pyrenees on the Bay of Biscay. Its boundaries are complicated. The greater Basque Country consists of seven districts--four within Spain and three within France.
Origins.
No one knows when the Basques came to Europe. Many say they have been there since the Neolithic period at the end of the Stone Age, others say even before then.
The first notices about the Basque Country are from Roman times. According to evidence, the Basque people already spoke their own language by then. After the fall of Roman Empire, the Basque Country was isolated from the invading Goths.
Middle Age.
During the Muslim invasion of South Europe, the Basque Country split in two: The Castillian and the Navarran lands. A war with France 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 has had their own government, and fought to gain the northern part of the Basque Country from France.
Now.
Today, three of the Basque districts in Spain--Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa--form a political unit known as an autonomous community of Spain. This three-district community is called "Euskadi" or the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. It is one of 17 autonomous communities in Spain.
The fourth Basque district in Spain--Navarra--is its own separate autonomous Community of Spain.
Population.
The entire Basque region covers a surface area of 20,664 km2 (square kilometers). The Autonomous Community of Euskadi covers 7,234 km2 (square kilometers). The population of Euskadi is about 2,000,000--about 5% of the total population of Spain. The Basque language and Spanish are spoken there. The capital is Vitoria-Gasteiz.


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