Basques; Basque

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A people living in both Spain and France in areas bordering the Bay of Biscay and encompassing the western foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The Basques are distinguished partly by an unusual pattern of blood groups, very high in the Rhesus negative factor, and by their language, quite unrelated to any other known one. They probably represent one of the people who inhabited Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans. Basque is the only remnant of the languages spoken in southwestern Europe before that region was Romanized. The origin of the Basque language remains a mystery. It has been hypothesized that Basque had a genetic connection with the now-extinct Iberian and that both languages evolved from the Hamito-Semitic (Afro-Asiatic) language group - but there is another theory that the similarities between the two arose from geographic proximity. Although Basque and Iberian are similar, the knowledge of Basque could not help decipher ancient Iberian inscriptions discovered in eastern Spain and on the Mediterranean coast of France. Basque is also linked with Caucasian, the ancient language spoken in the Caucasus region.