The Basque nation counts about 5 million people and is considered by some historians to be the oldest European nation to remain in the same region. Their language is not similar to any other Indo-European language (Observatorio Barcelona, 2001). The Basque nation spans 7 regions: the Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, Alava and Navarra regions in Spain, and Lapurdi, Baja Navarra and Zuberoa in France. The Basques have never in their history been a separate state, always being part of Spain or France, but are actively trying to achieve an independent homeland since the Carlist wars which started in the 1833 (Observatorio Barcelona, 2001). This separatism is more present in the Spanish part of the Basque nation. .
The main problem obviously lies in the fact that the Spanish government does not want to lose the Basque regions. The problem of the Basque separatist movement in Spain is not new, but it has become specially important since 1959, when a terrorist group called ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - Basque Homeland and Liberty) was founded. It's creation is due to the terrible oppression the Basque culture experienced during Francisco Franco's dictatorship (ADL, 2000). ETA has persisted in it's violent campaign since then, has killed about 800 people and committed thousands of sabotages (J.Elzo, 1997), up to being now considered the most active armed separatist group in Western Europe (since the cease-fire of the Irish Republican Army) (ADL, 2000). .
The reason why the Spanish government does not want the separation of the Basque territories is that this region is one of the country's wealthiest and most industrialized. In fact, the Basque per capita gross domestic product is 22 percent higher than Spain's national average (ADL, 2000). The terrorist group ETA had a quite favorable image in the sixties and seventies, because of their fight against the dictatorship, but even after the transition to democracy, including broad autonomy for the Basque territories (the Basque regional administration keeps all the taxes collected in the Basque territory, deciding what services they wish to receive (and pay for) from the central government), they have continued their campaign of death (ADL, 2000).