Navarre

Navarre (Navarra in Spanish) is located in the north of Spain. It is bordered on its western flank by the Basque Country and La Rioja. From the south and east it is bordered by Aragon, and above is the border with France.

Navarre has a population of around 570,000 and a surface area of approximately 10,400 km2, which represents 2.2% of Spain’s total land mass. In the north of the region are mountain ranges and deep, lush valleys. The south by contrast is dusty and dry. In general, Navarre’s climate is temperate: neither very cold in winter nor very hot in summer.

Pamplona, the capital city of Navarre, is situated just north of the centre of the region. Pamplona is most famous for a festival celebrated in honour of its patron saint: the Fiesta de San Fermín. The fiesta, taking place in the first week of July, is notable for the Running of the Bulls (la Corrida de los Toros) whereby bulls are let loose to run through the city streets and funnelled on to a bull ring in the centre of the city.

The official language of the region is Castilian Spanish but many people also speak Basque. The reason for this is that Navarra is one of the regions that comprise the four traditional territories of the southern Basque Country.

The historical Basque teritories were:

  • Álava (Araba in Basque)
  • Guipúzcoa (Gipuzkoa in Basque)
  • Vizcaya (Bizkaia in Basque)
  • and Navarre (Nafarroa in Basque)

N.B. The northern Basque Country, lying in French territory, is composed of three territories:

  • Lower Navarre (Behe Nafarroa in Basque)
  • Labourd (Lapurdi in Basque)
  • and Soule (Zuberoa in Basque).

Hence there are seven traditional Basque territories in total.

Navarre and Spain

Navarre was a former medieval Iberian kingdom. The Kingdom of Navarre covered most of the Basque speaking lands on both sides of the Pyrenees. In the 16th century, the southern region was incorporated into Spain. Since this time there has been no single government over the seven traditional territories.

As Basque separatism began to emerge in the early part of the 20th century, so too did a call for the traditional territories to unite to become a single Basque state. However, in the 1980s Navarre established itself as an Autonomous Community in its own right to the displeasure of Basque nationalists in the Basque Country and in Navarre itself.