The Ikurriña, flag designed by the founders of the Basque Nationalist Party EAJ-PNV Luis and Sabino Arana, is regarded as the national symbol of Euskal Herria, or the Basque country.
The flag was designed in 1894 to represent the province of Biscay and was adopted as the flag of the whole autonomous Spanish community of the Basque Country . It is now also commonly used in the French Basque Country, Iparralde.
The Ikurriña has a white cross and a green saltire across a red background, the green St. Andrew's cross might represent the Oak of Guernica a symbol of the old laws of Bizkaia, the white cross represents Catholicism and was also found behind the Oak in the Heraldic arms of Bizkaia, and the red background represents the Basque people (originally, the Biscaynes).
The red background and vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines show some similarity to the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Navarre. Some sources say that the design was inspired by that of the British union flag.
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Analysis: Basque history
By Daniel Schweimler
The Basques have been fighting to protect their language and culture for thousands of years. They are fiercely proud of their history.
They have been occupying their corner of Europe with its lush, green valleys and rugged coastline, since well before Roman times.
No-one knows where they came from. Their language, known as Euskera, has no clear links with any other known language and was spoken long before all of the Indo-European languages in the rest of Europe.
The protection and promotion of Euskera has always been at the heart of the Basque struggle.
Since the return of democracy in Spain following General Franco's death in 1975, Euskera has been thriving.
About 30% of the 2.5 million Basque people speak it and more than 90% of Basque children are now enrolled in Euskera schools.
Radio and television stations broadcast in the language. There are Basque newspapers and a growing number of internationally renowned writers, such as Bernardo Atxaga, whose works have been translated into Castillian Spanish, English, German and French.
Throughout history, Basques have developed a reputation as fierce defenders of their territory - against Romans, Vikings, Visigoths, Muslims and others.
Many invaders have chosen to by-pass the region. When they have managed to put down roots, the Basques have negotiated and learned from them, but have never mixed too much or risked becoming integrated.
From the Middle Ages onwards, they developed a reputation as formidable fishermen and have built boats which have taken them great distances in search of whales and cod.
Sailed with Columbus
There is some evidence that Basques landed in North America hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.
It was Basque sailors who made up the bulk of Columbus's crew.
Basque men wear their large berets with pride. It is a hat which was first worn in the Basque region and then exported to France and beyond.
They are are also recognised as the best cooks in Spain for their simple fish dishes and interesting cakes.
In the heart of the Basque country, there are 75 gastronomic societies in the city of San Sebastian alone.
They hold feasts and sometimes march through the streets. These occasions are so important that the mayor is expected to eat at all of them at least once a year.
There is also a rich vein of Basque music and storytelling. Public storytelling sessions are still held in many rural towns and villages.
Loyola - a famous Basque
Basques have always been known as a fiercely religious people. So it is no surprise that one of the most radical and disciplined religious orders, the Jesuits, was founded by a Basque, Ignatius Loyola, in 1534.
Originally a solider, while recovering from a serious war wound he began reflecting on his life and reading about the saints.
He studied in Paris where he founded the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits.
It had originally been intended as a missionary order. Instead, it went on to spearhead the Counter-Reformation, inspiring respect for its missionary work but fear for its often ruthless defence of its disciplined beliefs.
Fought against Franco
The Basques had been some of the fiercest opponents of Franco's Nationalist troops during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
One of Franco's most hated opponents, Dolores Ibárruri - known as La Pasionaria or the Passionate One for her inspiring speeches - came from a working-class family in Bilbao.
Picasso immortalised the bombing of the Basque town, Guernika, by Franco's German allies. The painting now hangs in a museum in Madrid.
During Franco's 40-year rule, he punished the region for its opposition. He declared two provinces "traitor provinces."
Franco believed in one, unified Spain and opposed any kind of regional diversification.
He banned the speaking of Euskera in public and ensured that there was little economic investment in the region.
ETA is born
Franco, like many before him, had found it difficult to suppress this proud nation and the movement for an independent Basque homeland began in the late 1950s.
The separatist group, ETA, began its violent campaign 10 years later.
While support for an independent homeland remains strong, it is by no means overwhelming. Many Basques are happy with the large degree of autonomy they have been granted by the central government in Madrid.
While still a long way from reaching any kind of long term political solution and establishing a permanent peace, it is clear that the Basque language and culture are enjoying a resurgence and that the Basque nation is as strong and vibrant now as it has ever been.
Monday, January 28, 2002
Blood-typing and other genetic studies show the Basques to be a people distinct from any other in Europe, rooted in the region of the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains before Indo-European tribes arrived. As a saying goes, "Before God was God and boulders were boulders, Basques were already Basques."
The Basque Country or Euskal Herria (land of the basque language), as the three million Basques call their nation straddles the French-Spanish border along the western Pyrenees. Through the centuries, waves of Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, French and Spanish overran their country. But the Basques endured, often taking their traditions to the hills and forests for safekeeping. The same Pyrenees that separate Spain from the rest of Europe united the Basques.
In 1980 the three Spanish provinces of Bizkaia, Araba and Gipuzkoa were officially joined as the Basque Autonomous Community.
But the Basque Country spills beyond the official borders. Basques call their nation Euskal Herria, or "land of the Basque language". And it is their ancient mother tongue that truly unites them. It was spoken here 5.000 years ago, before the Indo-Europeans arrived and spread out across the continent. And it is spoken today in cities and among the shepherds in the hills.
National Geographic, Nov. 1995
The provinces of Lapurdi, Behe-Nafarroa and Zuberoa north of the Spanish border and under the political scope of France make up the Northern Basque Country while the provinces of Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Araba and Nafarroa are further divided with the first three provinces conforming the Basque Autonomous Community and the latter being itself an autonomous community on its own.
Sunday, January 27, 2002
Republican attends Basque peace launch
Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 10:09 GMT
A leading member of Sinn Fein is to travel to Spain's northern Basque region on Saturday as new peace proposals are unveiled.
The proposals, being launched by Herri Batasuna - the political wing of the Basque separatist group ETA - are entitled: "A scenario for peace in the Basque Country".
Batasuna invited Sinn Fein to attend the launch to explain the evolution of the Northern Ireland peace process, and if it can be used to help a similar process in the Basque Country.
Alex Maskey, a South Belfast member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said there had been important political developments through dialogue in recent years in areas of the world with long-running conflicts.
"While there are many differences between the various conflicts that exist around the world, there are a number of common elements available that can help achieve peaceful resolutions," he said.
"In the first instance, successful peace processes require dialogue and negotiation based on inclusion and equality.
"Participants must approach such processes seeking an inclusive agreement.
"And finally, the international community can play a crucial role in encouraging, sustaining and facilitating a conflict resolution process".
He said everyone shared a responsibility to address conflict and injustice.
"In particular, Irish republicans have sought to share our experience of conflict resolution and the lessons which we have learned with others."
He said Sinn Fein did not want to become involved or interfere with the internal affairs of other nations.
"Ireland maybe a small country but we have a very special role to play in international affairs," he said.
"We have the potential to use the goodwill and respect enjoyed by the Irish nation throughout the world to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
"I welcome the initiatives taken by Batasuna in launching these new peace proposals.
"I believe that the opportunity now exists to build a real and inclusive peace process for the Basque country.
"I hope that the Basque parties and the Spanish and French Governments respond positively to these proposals."
He said the international community also had an important role to play in the process.
Now, who told the author that Batasuna was ETA's political wing? Neither Batasuna nor ETA have ever made such statement. Seems like the BBC leans towards Madrid, no surprise there, it is after all an English media outlet.
Friday, January 25, 2002
Once again, we go back to the same useful page in order to get information about the Basque language.
Euskara, the language of the Basques, is an isolate language. It is not related to any other language at all, despite serious (and less serious) attempts to find similarities between Basque and other linguistic families or given languages.
It is a peculiar language, with distinctive lexical background and grammar. Being isolate and relatively strange (compared to other European languages), Basque is supposed to be extremely difficult. But this is not true. Larry Trask, an English linguist that commands Basque perfectly, writes: "In fact, Basque is a rather easy language to pick up, while mastering it is no more difficult than mastering any other language. The pronunciation is easy, the spelling is regular, there is no grammatical gender, there are no noun-classes or verb-classes, and there are no irregular nouns and hardly any irregular verbs". A curious fact about Basque is that even pidginized forms of it have evolved far from the Basque Country, for instance in Iceland (more info at another page of GeoNative).
Other features may shock you, for instance: pluri-personal verbs, the 3-number system (singular, plural and indefinite), allocutive speech, ergative construction, the 20-or-so declination cases (very easy to learn: they are just strictly regular postpositions), particular word order, positional nouns... Many of these features are strange to European language speakers, but are not that rare among the world's languages.
Monday, January 21, 2002
We are using the same page we used for the previous post as reference.
Here it is:
The Basques called themselves euskaldunak (singular, euskaldun). The word is formed from euskara 'Basque language' and -dun 'who has'; it literally means 'one who has (i.e., speaks) Basque'. Euskaldun means properly only 'Basque-speaker'. Ethnicity or being part of the Basque Nation is therefore a question of language. You can be japanese and euskaldun, but you can be born in the Basque Country and not be euskaldun. With no euskara, there is no Euskal Herria. Without our language, the Basque Country will not exist, from our point of view.
Spanish, French or English do not have comparative terms to this basque word (euskaldun). You may read from a spanish source that "most basques do not know the basque language". Well, you should notice that basque or vasco are ambiguous from the native point of view, and we would more properly say that "we euskaldunak (native basques, basque-speaking people) are a minority in our own country".
At the same time, there are no proper words in basque for ethnic basque or person born in the Basque Country. Neologisms as euskotar or euskal herritar are used to define such terms.
Sunday, January 20, 2002
Well, Euskal Herria is the Basque Country.
And what is the Basque Country then?
You can find that answer following this link.
This is the information you will find there:
The Basque Country
The Basque Country is a nation in southwestern Europe.
It is currently divided between two states: France and Spain. Our country is located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, on both slopes of the Western Pyrenees that separate Spain and France.
The Basque Country is the territory which is historically, ethnically and culturally Basque. Spanish and French may call Basque Country (Pays Basque, País Vasco) only to a portion of the country, not the whole nation. Nevertheless, Basques conceive their country as embracing the area of the traditional seven provinces: Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba and Nafarroa on the Spanish side, Lapurdi, Nafarroa Beherea and Zuberoa on the French side.
These provinces are divided among three politico-administrative structures. Two are within the Spanish State: the Basque Autonomous Community (formed by Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa) and the Autonomous Community of Navarre (Nafarroa alone). The three provinces within the French State are not autonomous. They form, along with Bearn, the French department of Pyrenees Atlantiques (capital Pau, in Bearn), which is part of the region of Aquitaine (capital Bordeaux).
The Basque Country is a little nation: just 20.864 sq. km and 2.9 million people. Only 650.000 of them speak Basque, mostly in the Spanish side (only 70.000 in the French side). There is another minority language in the Basque Country: Occitan; several hundred people (or a few thousand) speak Gascon and Bearnais dialects of Occitan in the french side of the Basque Country.
The Basque name of the Basque Country is Euskal Herria.
The Basque word for the language is Euskara.
Euskal Herria is formed from euskal, the combining form of Euskara, plus herri 'country', with the article -a.
Euskadi is also used for the Basque Country. This is a political name, coined at the end of the 19th century. Sometimes spelled as Euzkadi, it has been translated as Basque Fatherland or Basque State. Lately, Euskadi is used just to name the territory under the Basque Autonomous Government (only three provinces out of seven).
That territory, the Basque Autonomous Community is oficially called Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa in Basque (initials: EAE), and Comunidad Autonoma Vasca in Spanish (initials: CAV). It is important to note that most of the Basque Country lies outside the borders of this autonomous administration.
What Spaniards and French call "Spanish" or "French Basque Country" is called Northern or Southern Basque Country by the Basques:
Ipar Euskal Herria or Iparralde for the northern part (under France).
Hego Euskal Herria or Hegoalde for the southern part (under Spain).
You will find more information about Euskal Herria and the Basques at that same page.
.... ... .
Thursday, January 17, 2002
Before we go any farther, English is not my first language, so, if you find some grammar mistakes, or something is misspelled, go easy, blame it on Britt.