History of euskara

Basque (Euskara) is one of the oldest languages in Western Europe, preceding the Indo-European tongues.

Various scholars claim that there exist nexus between Basque and Iberian, Berber or some of the languages found around the Caucasus, but the origins of Euskara remain a mystery.

In bygone times, Basque was spoken over a wide territory which stretched from the river Ebro to the south northwards to the banks of the Garonne and from the western Pyrenees as far as Catalonia. This territory was diminished bit by bit due to invasions (by Celts, Romans, etc.) and, since the XIX century, Euskara has lost half of its zone of influence.

Toponyms provide us with a great number of vestiges of Basque (names of rivers, mountains, villages, farm or townhouses...), many of them going back to before the Middle Ages.

Despite the setbacks suffered throughout its history, our language continues to be vibrant in the Basque Country. Since 1979 Euskara has been together with Spanish the co-official language of the Basque Country Autonomous Community and, since 1982, of one part of Navarre.

In the North Basque country, despite various campaigns in favour for official recognition for the use of Basque, our language has not yet achieved this status within French public administration.