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Flag of the Basque Country
See adjacent text.
Name Ikurriña
Use Civil and state flag and ensign
Proportion 14:25
Adopted 18 December 1978
Design A white cross over a green saltire on a red field.
Designed by Luis Arana and Sabino Arana

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 identified 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 ground 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.

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Name

The name is a neologism by the Aranas from ikur ("mark, sign", compare to Catalan senyera). It was intended to have the generic meaning of "flag" but ended with this specific meaning. Therefore, the current standard Basque word for "flag" is the Hispanism bandera. A similar process happened with other Basque nationalist neologisms, like lehendakari and ertzaintza, coined originally as generic terms, but then applied almost exclusively to the Basque President and the Basque Autonomic Police. The original Biscayne spelling of the Aranas was ikuŕiñ (the final -a is the Basque definite article). The modern standard spelling is ikurrin.

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External links

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