Posted by: nancycurteman | August 17, 2014

Basque Country: The people and Culture

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Basque Country and the people who live there have a unique history and culture. I’ve set my new novel in this interesting locale as well as in Paris. Basque Country is such a fascinating place I decided to share some interesting facts about this somewhat mysterious region.

  • Basque Country is comprised of 7 provinces and straddles the border of two countries. Four provinces are in Spain and 3 in France. French Basque country borders the Bay of Biscay and encompasses the western foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains.
  • The origin of the Basque people is not exact. One theory is that of Professor Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe. He believes they came “out of East Africa 50,000 or so years ago and passed through the Middle East.” It’s generally agreed that the Basque did not mingle with people outside their own group maintaining their unique nationality. Blood-type frequencies support the Basques claims of ethnic uniqueness. They have the world’s highest frequency of type O and RH negative blood.
  • The Basque speak Euskara, a non-Indo-European language, unrelated to any other language in the world. As is the case with the people themselves, the origin of the language is controversial. Some researchers believe it dates back to the Stone Age.
  • Throughout history, Basques have developed a reputation as fierce defenders of their territory. They held off would-be conquerors including Romans, Vikings, Visigoths and Muslims. In modern times they fought to maintain their independence from Franco in Spain. Basques have always dreamed of an independent state.
  • Though Roman Catholicism has been the dominant Basque religion. They also have roots in paganism. Their ancient religion focused on Mari, an early Basque goddess. This goddess worship probably influenced their adoption of matrilineal inheritance laws and the subsequent high status of women in Basque society, in law codes, as well as their positions as judges and inheritors.

In my next post I’ll share some interesting facts about modern-day Basque society.

More About Basque country:

Where is Sare? France That Is


  1. Absolutely fascinating and esoteric background material here. Especially about the roots of their language and blood-type difference. Thanks for posting. I understand there are Basque shepherds here and there in Norther California too. Thanks, Nancy. Always intriguing locales. H.


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