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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. The greater Basque Country consists of seven districts—four within Spain and three within France.
The first information about the Basque Country is 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.
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 have had their own government, and fought to gain the northern part of the Basque Country from France.
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 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.
The three districts which form the North (French) Basque Country are Lapurdi (Labourd), Nafarroa Beherea (Basse-Navarre) and Zuberoa/Xiberoa (Soule).
The entire Basque region has a surface area of 20,664 km2 (square kilometers), 7,978 sq mi. The Autonomous Community of the Euskadi covers 7,234 km2 (square kilometers) or 2,793 sq mi. The population of the Autonomous Community is about 2,000,000—about 5% of the total population of Spain. The Basque language and Spanish are spoken there. The most important city is Bilbao, but the parliament is in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Famous Basque people
- Miguel de Unamuno
- Maurice Ravel (through his mother)
- Che Guevara (through his mother)
- St. Ignatius Loyola
- Louis Daguerre
- Pío Baroja
Most important cities in the Basque Country