Taking its name from the Basque people who live there, Spain's Basque Region is located in the north-central part of Spain, at the western end of the Pyrenees. It is adjacent to and, in its fullest cultural form, extends across the border with France. It's known as Pais Vasco in Spanish and Euskadi in the Basque language.
The Basques are thought to be descendants of the earliest inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, and their very complex language, Euskera, is quite distinct from Spanish and most other European tongues. The Basques have always displayed a strong regional identity. Since the 1700s, they've lobbied for greater self-rule, even outright independence from Spain.
At times, this struggle has become violent: For a long time the Basque separatist group, ETA, was engaged in terrorist attacks, but in January 2011 it declared a permanent ceasefire, which continues to hold.
This picturesque area is rough and cultured at the same time. Several days could be spent there driving and hiking through the mountain landscape. Bilbao and San Sebastian are the two most important coastal cities.
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