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The Basque culture is considered to be the very oldest culture in Europe. The Basque language certainly predates anything remotely Indo-European, and any Celtophile may be distressed to discover that they predate the Celts by hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The Basques have remained intact in their country in and around the Pyrenees for thousands of years, and they've withstood migrations and invasions of Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Arabs, and Fascists, just to name a few. They've given us so much -- the beret, cake, the bayonette, the pimento, and many other things.

Unfortunately, this nation has no borders, it exists on the border of Spain and France, and they've suffered for this, especialy in the past two centuries. In Spain, efforts have been made to restore much of the original autonomy, though Navarre, the greatest of the Basque Kingdoms, is now all but assimilated. This is great, but little can be done to make up for the ruthless rule of Francisco Franco, who opressed the Basques for forty years due to their anti-Fascist and deeply religious position in the Spanish Civil War. He even allowed Hitler to 'test' his Luftwaffe on the Basque Country, destroying two major cities, including the fabled Guernica. And while Spain's recent efforts should be commended, France has done little to ease up on the forced assimilatory practices that they've enforced since the French Revolution, resulting in a very tiny population of French Basque-speakers. Similar linguistic opression in France has resulted in the extinction and near extinction of other minority languages in France, most notably Occitan/Provençal.

Here is a list of some Basques, those from the Basque country and their ethnic descendants, who have affected the world:

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