Places in World Most Likely to Secede Euzkadi Basques Part 1

About the Basques of Euzkadi a place in the world likely to secede from Spain, size, population, and history of conflict.



Size: Approximately 10,000 sq. mi. (25,900 sq. km.).

Population: Estimates range from 1 to 3 million.

The Basques are a culturally and racially distinct group that has occupied its European homeland at least since pre-Christian times and possibly since the Stone Age. Basque is apparently a corrupted French version of the label Vascone, applied by the Romans to this people. The Basque homeland straddles the westernmost range of the Pyrenees between France and Spain and extends about 100 mi. along the Bay of Biscay coast. Three French and four Spanish provinces in this area comprise the projected unified nation of the Basques. The Pays Basque of France includes the provinces of Labourd, Basse-Navarre, and Soule (all in the French department of Pyrenees-Atlantique). Most Basques, however, reside in the Spanish Pais Vasco provinces of Navarre, Alava, Vizcaya, and Guipuzcoa-a region which, along with its village-based farming, sheepherding, and fishing economies, has become a major industrial and commercial center. Major Basque cities, all in Spain, include San Sebastian, Bilbao, Vitoria, and Pamplona.

Both collectively and individually, the Basques display a fiercely proud and independent awareness of their own uniqueness. As natives or immigrants, they have historically resisted all efforts to integrate their minority status into the national boundaries that surround and divide them. In Europe, this resistance continues, sometimes violently, with Basque separatist terrorists blamed, and claiming responsibility, for political killings and bombings, especially in Spain.

Basque national consciousness dates from the Middle Ages, the result of certain concessions granted during the Christian reconquest of Moorish Spain. These special charters, called fueros, awarded a high degree of provincial autonomy throughout the reconquered territories. The Basques guarded them jealously, even when pledging technical allegiance to the kings of France and Spain. French Basques preserved these rights until 1789, when the Revolution deprived them of both privileges and political identity. In Spain, the Basques retained their fueros until the next century, when the Second Carlist War terminated them in the name of national unity in 1876. Since that date, the Basques have employed both covert and overt tactics to restore their autonomy. In defiance of imposed borders, these tactics have included incessant smuggling under official noses. The devious Basque language, Eskuara, and mountain familiarity have frustrated French and Spanish authorities for a century.

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