Basque (/bæsk/ or /bɑːsk/; Basque: Euskara, IPA: [eus̺ˈkaɾa]) is the language spoken by the Basques. Linguistically, Basque is unrelated to the other languages of Europe and indeed, as a language isolate, any other known language. The Basques are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, the Basque Country, a region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. The Basque language is spoken by 27% of Basques in all territories (714,135 out of 2,648,998). Of these, 93% (663,035) are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 7% (51,100) are in the French portion.
Native speakers live in a contiguous area that includes parts of four Spanish territories and the three "ancient provinces" in France. Gipuzkoa, most of Biscay, a few municipalities of Álava, and the northern area of Navarre formed the core of the remaining Basque-speaking area before measures were introduced in the 1980s to strengthen the language. By contrast, most of Álava, the western part of Biscay and central and southern areas of Navarre are predominantly populated by native speakers of Spanish, either because Basque was replaced by Spanish over the centuries, in some areas (most of Álava and central Navarre), or because it was possibly never spoken there, in other areas (Enkarterri and southeastern Navarre).
Under Restorationist and Francoist Spain, public use of Basque was frowned upon, often regarded as a sign of separatism; this applied especially to those regions that did not support Franco's uprising (such as Biscay or Gipuzkoa). However, in those Basque-speaking regions that supported the uprising (such as Navarre or Álava) the Basque language was more than merely tolerated. Overall, in the 1960s and later, the trend reversed and education and publishing in Basque began to flourish. As a part of this process, a standardized form of the Basque language, called Euskara Batua, was developed by the Euskaltzaindia in the late 1960s.
Besides its standardised version, the five historic Basque dialects are Biscayan, Gipuzkoan, and Upper Navarrese in Spain, and Navarrese–Lapurdian and Souletin in France. They take their names from the historic Basque provinces, but the dialect boundaries are not congruent with province boundaries. Euskara Batua was created so that Basque language could be used—and easily understood by all Basque speakers—in formal situations (education, mass media, literature), and this is its main use today. In both Spain and France, the use of Basque for education varies from region to region and from school to school.
A language isolate, Basque is believed to be one of the few surviving pre-Indo-European languages in Europe, and the only one in Western Europe. The origin of the Basques and their languages are not conclusively known, though the most accepted current theory is that early forms of Basque developed prior to the arrival of Indo-European languages in the area, including the Romance languages that geographically surround the Basque-speaking region. Basque has adopted a good deal of its vocabulary from the Romance languages, and Basque speakers have in turn lent their own words to Romance speakers.
The Basque alphabet uses the Latin script. Wikipedia