It is believed that the unique Basque is an isolated remnant of an Iberian language that during the Middle Ages was spread out in over an extremely large geographic area. The language, however, can be traced back only as far as the 16th century, and, to date, it appears to be unrelated to any other language on earth.
Today, the Basque language is spoken primarily in a small area of northern Spain and southwestern France. Although Spanish officials officially discouraged the language in the past, Basque is now a regionally accepted language in both Spain and France. The distinct language, known to the people of that region as Euskara, is of central importance to the cause of Basque nationalism.