Basque Country flag 10 x 15 cm
The Basque Country (Basque: Euskal Herria, Spanish: País Vasco, French: Pays Basque) as a cultural region (not to be confused with the homonym autonomous community of the Basque country) is a European region in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain, on the Atlantic coast. It comprises the autonomous communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and then the Northern Basque Country in France.
It roughly corresponds with the homeland of the Basque language and Basque traditions. As such, it is a concept mostly used within Basque nationalism.
The Ikurriña or Ikurrina flag is a Basque symbol and the official flag of the Basque Country Autonomous Community of Spain.
Following the pattern of the Union Flag, the flag was designed by the founders of the Basque Nationalist Party EAJ-PNV, Luis and Sabino Arana, and is commonly regarded as the national but unofficial symbol of Euskal Herria, or the wider Basque Country. It is widely seen in the French Basque Country and forms part of the unofficial flag of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the French overseas community in North America that was settled by French Basque and also many Spanish Basque sailors. The Ikurriña is also the flag of the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV). A controversy exists because at first it was only the symbol of a section of the party (the section of Biscay) and many persons thought that another flag must represent the territory.
The flag's British influence is probably due to the close connection between Bilbao and Britain at the time of its design and the Cross of Burgundy flag (Spanish Imperial Emblem), the old flag of the Kingdom of Navarre and the Italian immigration for the colors. (Ironically, at later times Basque Nationalists flying this flag on some occasions identitifed themselves and associated with anti-British Irish Nationalists.)
The flag was designed in 1894 to represent the province of Biscay in a set of one flag for each of the seven Basque provinces and one for the whole country; however, since PNV activity was scarce outside of Biscay, only the Biscayne flag was publicly recognized. It was hoisted for the first time in the "Euzkeldun Batzokija", the club that preceded EAJ-PNV. The party adopted it in 1895 and, in 1933, proposed it as the flag of the whole Basque Country.
In 1936, because the Basque people had accepted the "ikurriña" and at the suggestion of the socialist counselor Aznar, the Basque Government adopted it as the flag of the Basque Autonomous Region. The regime of General Franco prohibited it in 1938 (it continued to be used in the Basque departements of France). It became a symbol of defiance – the first actions of the clandestine group ETA involved placing flags in public places. During the Spanish transition to democracy, it was legalized in 1977. Two years later, the Basque Government turned to adopt it as flag of the Basque A.C. It was also adopted by nationalists in the rest of the provinces.
The red bottom symbolizes the Biscayan people (the race); the green saltire might represent the Oak of Guernica, a symbol of the old laws of Biscay, or Fueros; and over them, the white cross, God's symbol of Basque Catholic devotion. Thus, red, white and green have become the national Basque colors.