22 Facts About Basques


Basques are a Southwestern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitanians.

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Basques are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, an area traditionally known as the Basque Country — a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.

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The distinctiveness noted by studies of 'classical' genetic markers and the apparently "pre-Indo-European" nature of the Basque language has resulted in a popular and long-held misleading view that Basques are "living fossils" of the earliest modern humans who colonised Europe.

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However, studies of the Y-DNA haplogroups found that on their direct male lineages, the vast majority of modern Basques have a common ancestry with other Western Europeans, namely a marked predominance of Haplogroup R1b-DF27.

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In 2015, a new scientific study of Basque DNA was published which seems to indicate that Basques are descendants of Neolithic farmers who mixed with local Mesolithic hunters before becoming genetically isolated from the rest of Europe for millennia.

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The Basques were ravaged by the War of the Bands, bitter partisan wars between local ruling families.

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Nevertheless, the Basques enjoyed a great deal of self-government until the French Revolution and the Carlist Wars, when the Basques supported heir apparent Carlos V and his descendants.

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On either side of the Pyrenees, the Basques lost their native institutions and laws held during the Ancien regime.

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Since then, despite the current limited self-governing status of the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre as settled by the Spanish Constitution, many Basques have attempted higher degrees of self-empowerment, sometimes by acts of violence.

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Large numbers of Basques have left the Basque Country to settle in the rest of Spain, France or other parts of the world in different historical periods, often for economic or political reasons.

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Historically the Basques abroad were often employed in shepherding and ranching and by maritime fisheries and merchants.

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The Basques were important in the mining industry; many were ranchers and vaqueros, and the rest opened small shops in major cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puebla.

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In Guatemala, most Basques have been concentrated in Sacatepequez Department, Antigua Guatemala, Jalapa for six generations now, while some have migrated to Guatemala City.

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The largest concentration of Basques who settled on Mexico's north-eastern "frontera", including the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas, settled along Texas' Rio Grande from South Texas to West Texas.

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An idea of the central place the language has in cultural terms is given by the fact that Basques identify themselves by the term euskaldun and their country as Euskal Herria, literally "Basque speaker" and "Country of the Basque Language" respectively.

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For many Basques, it is juxtaposed with a sense of either Spanish or French identity tied with the use of the Spanish and French languages among other Basques, especially in the French Basque Country.

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Basques have a close attachment to their home, especially when this consists of the traditional self-sufficient, family-run farm or baserri.

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Some Basques identify themselves as Basques only whereas others identify themselves both as Basque and Spanish.

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In modern times, as a European people living in a highly industrialized area, cultural differences from the rest of Europe are inevitably blurred, although a conscious cultural identity as a people or nation remains very strong, as does an identification with their homeland, even among many Basques who have emigrated to other parts of Spain or France, or to other parts of the world.

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The prevailing belief amongst Basques, and forming part of their national identity, is that their language has continuity with the people who were in this region since not only pre-Roman and pre-Celtic times, but since the Stone Age.

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Basques was a friend and savior to all the poor and homeless, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 16,1994.

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Basques was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23,2005.

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