Portal:Basque/Selected article archive

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April 3, 2007

Bilbao, sometimes referred to as Bilbo (Basque name), in the North of Spain, is the largest city in the Basque Country and the capital of the province of Biscay (Basque: Bizkaia). The city has over 354,000 inhabitants (2006) and is the most economically and industrially active part of Greater Bilbao, the zone in which almost half of the Basque Country’s population lives. Greater Bilbao’s 946,829 inhabitants are spread along the length of the Nervion River, whose banks are home also to numerous business and factories, which during the industrial revolution brought heightened prosperity to the region.

In the north, Bilbao’s city edge is considered to be around the towns of Erandio, Sondika and Derio, in the east it is encompassed by Zamudio and Etxebarri. The southern border passes outside Basauri and Arrigorriaga and in the west, Barakaldo and Alonsotegi are the furthest extremes. The urban area is enclosed by two small mountain ranges called Pagasarri (to the south) and Artxanda (to the north), this fact gives the city its nickname, "el botxo", "the hole".


March 1, 2007
Indautxu station with a train at the platform

Metro Bilbao is a metro system serving the city of Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain) and its metropolitan area (Greater Bilbao). It has a metre gauge.

The idea of building a metro system in the city of Bilbao is an old one. In the 1920s the city's council prepared a project to build a metro system in the neighbourhoods of Abando and San Frantzisko.

The contract for the underground metro system in Bilbao, Spain was awarded to architects Sir Norman Foster and partners in 1988 following an open competition as metro was decided to be the best method to improve congestion problems in the evolving and regenerating city.

In 2006 Metro Bilbao was used by almost 80 million people. Since it serves directly about 680,000 people, each citizen travels about 115 times a year. Ridership increases steadily every year, there are some dramatic increases in 1998 and 2002 due to enlargement of the network, ridership is expected to reach 100 million people per year once the network is completed.


February 1, 2007

The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War by the German Luftwaffe squadron known as the Condor Legion against the Basque town of Guernica (in Basque Gernika, and officially Gernika-Lumo since 1983). It was, at the time, the largest ever aerial bombardment of a town.

Even before the bombardment, Guernica was a place of great significance to the Basque people. The Biscayne assembly traditionally met there under an oak tree, the Gernikako Arbola.The attacks created a firestorm and destroyed nearly the entire town. Three quarters of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and most others were damaged. Among the few buildings spared were the arms factories of Unceta and Company and Talleres de Guernica and the Assembly House (Casa de Juntas) and the Oak.

The bombardment of Guernica rapidly became a world-renowned symbol of the horrors of war. It inspired one of Pablo Picasso’s most famous paintings, known simply as Guernica. The display of this painting at the (Republican) Spanish Pavilion during the 1937 World's Fair in Paris both reflected and enhanced the symbolic significance of the event. The painting was a symbol for Basque nationalism during the Spanish transition to democracy. Today a copy hangs in the lobby of the United Nations Security Council.

It is claimed that the term "weapon of mass destruction" first appeared in a Times article later in the same year on the bombing of Guernica.(continued...)

January 16, 2007
Coat of Arms of Labourd.

Labourd (Lapurdi in Basque; from Latin Lapurdum, Labord in Gascon) is a former French province and part of the present-day Pyrénées Atlantiques département. It is historically one of the seven provinces of the traditional Basque Country.

Labourd extends from the Pyrenees to the river Adour, along the Atlantic Ocean. To the south is Gipuzkoa and Navarre in modern Spain, to the east is Basse-Navarre, to the north are the Landes. It has an area of almost 900 km² and a population of over 200,000, the most populous of the three French Basque provinces. Over 25% of the inhabitants speak Basque. Labourd has also long had a Gascon-speaking tradition, noticeably next to the banks of the river Adour but also more diffusedly throughout the whole viscounty.

The main town of Labourd is Bayonne, although the capital, where local Basque leaders assembled, is Ustaritz, 13 km away. Other important towns are Biarritz, Hendaye, Hasparren, Ciboure and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The area is famous for the five-day Fêtes de Bayonne and the red peppers of Espelette. Many tourists come to the coast, especially at Biarritz, and the hills and mountains of the interior for walking and agri-tourism. La Rhune (Larrun in Basque), a 900m high hill, lies south of Saint-Jean-de-Luz on the border with Spain. The hill is a Basque symbol, with spectacular views from its peak.

Lapurdian (Lapurtera) is a dialect of the Basque language spoken in the region.(continued...)

January 1, 2007
Euskaltzaindia's central office in Bilbao.

Euskaltzaindia, or the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (literally translated as "group of keepers of the Basque language") is the official academic institution which watches over Euskara, the Basque language. It carries out research on the language, seeks to protect it, and establishes standards of use. It is known in Spanish as La Real Academia de la Lengua Vasca, (being under royal patronage like the Royal Spanish Academy) and in French as Académie de la Langue Basque.

The Academy's articles of association set out the institution's objectives, first published in 1920. Those articles have been repeatedly reformed (and standing orders added) with the aim of adapting the institution to the linguistic and cultural circumstances of the day.

The Euskaltzaindia has been a vocal and active advocate of the introduction of a unified dialect of the Basque language, known as "Euskara Batua", or Unified Basque. Basque has been usually divided into 8 different dialects, varying in their level of mutual intelligibilty. The first detailed dialectical analysis was by Louis Lucien Bonaparte. However, many people have seen this as a weakness in the language's fight for survival in a world in which minority languages spoken in states are wiped out by the states' official language. Having been for centuries pressured on both sides by Spanish and French, and under the rule of Franco coming close to extinction, the Academy felt the need to create a unified dialect of Basque, in order that the language have a greater chance of survival. The new dialect of Basque was heavily based on the Gipuzkoan dialect of Donostia-San Sebastián - the dialect with the richest literary heritage. (continued...)

December 1, 2006
Bizkaia Delegation Palace in Bilbao.

Biscay (Basque Bizkaia, Spanish: Vizcaya) is a province of northern Spain, in the northwestern part of the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

Of the 1,133,444 people who live in Biscay, about 35% live in the capital, Bilbao (Basque: Bilbo) and 88% in its metropolitan area. Population density is 512.34 /km². Gernika, a town regarded as the spiritual centre of the traditional Basque Country, is located in Biscay. Other important towns include Barakaldo, Getxo, Portugalete, Durango, and Balmaseda.

Biscayan is a dialect of the Basque language spoken in the region.

The climate is oceanic, with high precipitation all year round and moderate temperatures, which allow the lush vegetation to grow. Temperatures are more extreme in the higher lands of inner Biscay, where snow is more common during winter.

Biscay has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic, as attested by the archaeological remains and cave paintings found in its many caves. The Roman presence had little impact in the region and the Basque language and traditions have survived to this day. Biscay itself was only created in the Middle Ages, after its incorporation to Castile in 1200. In the modern age, the province became a major commercial and industrial area. Its prime harbour of Bilbao soon became the main Castilian gateway to Europe. Later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the abundance of prime quality iron ore and the lack of feudal castes favored its rapid industrialization. (continued...)

November 6, 2006
Percentage of people fluent in the Basque language in the Basque Country.

Basque (IPA: /bæsk/; Basque: Euskara) is the language spoken by the Basque people who inhabit the Pyrenees in North-Central Spain and the adjoining region of South-Western France. More specifically, the Basques occupy a Spanish autonomous community known as the Basque Country (Euskadi), which has significant cultural and political autonomy. Basques also make up sizable parts of the population in what is known as the Northern Basque Country in France and the autonomous community of Navarre in Spain, which in total have historically been considered the Basque Country. The Standard Basque name for the language is euskara; other dialectal forms are euskera, eskuara and üskara. Although geographically surrounded by Indo-European languages, Basque is believed to be a language isolate: it is not an Indo-European language.

Today Basque holds co-official language status in the Basque regions of Spain: the full autonomous community of the Basque Country and some parts of Navarre. Basque has no official standing in the Northern Basque Country of France and French citizens are barred from officially using Basque in a French court of law. Paradoxically, the use of Basque by Spanish nationals in French courts is allowed (with translation), as Basque is officially recognised on the other side of the frontier.

The positions of the various existing governments, in areas where Basque usage is common, differ with regard to the promotion of Basque. The language has official status in those territories which are within the Basque Autonomous Community where it is spoken and promoted heavily, but only partially in Navarre, which is divided by the law in three distinct language areas, Basque-speaking, non-Basque-speaking, and mixed (this law is strongly rejected by the Basque-speaking people of Navarre). The law is called the "Ley del Vascuence", as vascuence (from Latin vasconice loqui, "to talk in the Vascon way") is the traditional name for the Basque language in Spanish (euskera and vasco are also used). (continued...)