The Basques are an enigmatic ethnic group
who mostly live on the border between France
, around the Pyrenees Mountains
. There are between two and three million of them worldwide. Their literally unique language is covered in depth HERE
Most evidence points to the Basque people as having lived in the same area for a truly vast amount of time. There are archaeological sites dating back to Cro-Magnon times on Basque turf, and while there isn't any direct evidence of continuity on that scale, there isn't much against it, either.
The general region the Basques live in has been owned at one time or another by the Romans, the Visigoths, Charlemange, the Moors, the Castillians, France, and Spain, both under Francisco Franco and the newer, non-bloodthirsty-dictator regime. The Basques fought, traded, or both with all of these people and were never fully conquered or assimilated. Nutty, huh?
The big news in Basqueland lately is the terrorist organization that started up under Franco and continues to blow shit up and shoot people to this day. The IRA - yes, that's the Irish Republican Army - helped them reorganize in the early eighties into a bipolar militant / political setup, just like IRA and Sinn Féin. They want Basque independence. To make things more complicated, the Basque provinces in Spain and France have a high degree of autonomy, collecting their own taxes and holding their own parliament. I leave the moral issues to others.
Some crap I forgot. Recent genetic studies show that the Basques are most closely related to Celts. Considering the amorphous linege of the Celtic people, and the 10k+ years since they split, it don't say much. Basques are probably the oldest surviving ethnicity in Europe.