Unknown-1Navarra / Nafarroa, officially the Comunidad Foral de Navarra / Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Comunidad Autónoma Vasca, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France. The capital city is Pamplona / Iruña. During the Roman Empire, the Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe populated the occupied the area south of the Pyrenees which ultimately became Navarre. In the mountainous north, the Vascones escaped large-scale Roman settlement, but not so in the flatter areas to the south, which were used for large-scale Roman farming.

Reyes_visigodos_Codex_VigilanusAlthough Navarra suffered several invasions, neither the Visigoths nor the Moors nor anyone else ever completely subjugated the area. In AD 778, the Basques defeated a Frankish army in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. Later, in 824 Iñigo Arista was elected King of Pamplona, the foundation of the Kingdom of Navarre.
The kingdom reached its zenith during the reign of Sancho III of Navarra and covered the area of the present-day Navarre, Basque country, and La Rioja, together with parts of modern Cantabria, Castile and León, and Aragon. After Sancho III died, the Kingdom of Navarre was divided between his sons. It never fully recovered its political power, although its commercial importance increased as the traders and pilgrims traversed the Camino de Santiago, which crossed the kingdom. Navarre fought beside other Christian Spanish kingdoms in the decisive battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, after which the Muslim conquests in the Iberian Peninsula were reduced to the small territory of Granada in 1252.
Unknown-2Because of its strategic location, Navarre often fought to maintain its integrity against the stronger kingdoms to its east (Aragon) and west (Castille). Its royal family intermarried with French nobles, but the Navarrese kept their strong town-based democratic traditions and limited aristocratic power. In 1469, the marriage of Queen Isabella of Castile-León and King Ferdinand of Aragon-Catalonia unified those kingdoms into what became the kingdom of Spain. Although their military attentions remained focused on the remaining Muslim in the south, Navarre’s days were also numbered.

guerra-de-la-liga-de-cambrai-3In 1515, after the War of the League of Cambrai, the bulk of Navarre south of the Pyrenees (Upper Navarre) was at last absorbed into Spain, but retained some autonomy. Navarra’s royal family fled into the small portion of Navarra lying north of the Pyrenees (Lower Navarre), and their military attempts to regain their kingdom failed.

Unknown-3Queen Jeanne d’Albret became a famous Huguenot and her son became King Henry IV of France, founder of the House of Bourbon dynasty, a branch of which much later came to rule Spain. With the declaration of the French Republic and execution of Louis XVI, the last King of France and Navarra, the kingdom was merged into a unitary French state.

images-3The community ceremonies, education, and social services, together with housing, urban development, and environment protection policies are under the responsibility of its own institutions. Unlike most other autonomous communities of Spain (but like the Basque Country), Navarra has almost full responsibility for collecting and administering taxes which must follow the guidelines established by the central government..

Navarra consists of 272 municipalities and has a total population of 601,874 (2006), of which approximately one-third live in the capital, Pamplona (195,769 pop.), and one-half in the capital’s metropolitan area (315,988 pop.). The next largest municipalities are Tudela (32,802), Barañáin (22,401), Burlada (18,388),Estella (13,892), Zizur Mayor (13,197), Tafalla (11,040), Villava/Atarrabia (10,295), and Ansoáin (9,952).

Unknown-5Despite its relatively small size, Navarra features stark contrasts in geography, from the Pyrenees mountain range that dominates the territory to the plains of the Ebro river valley in the south. The highest point in Navarre is Mesa de los Tres Reyes, with an elevation of 2,428 metres (7,965 feet).


Other important mountains are Txamantxoia,Kartxela, the Larra-Belagua Massif, Sierra de Alaiz, Untzueko Harria, Sierra de Leyre, Sierra del Perdón, Montejurra, Ezkaba, Monte Ori, Sierra de Codés, Urbasa, Andia, and the Aralar Range. In the north,climate is an Oceanic west coast climate. At central Navarra a mediterranean climate and at the southernmost part of Navarra the climate is cool semiarid.

Navarre is a mixture of its Vasconic tradition, the Trans-Pyrenean influx of people and ideas and Mediterranean influences coming from theEbro. The Ebro valley is amenable to wheat, vegetables, wine, and even olive trees as in Aragon and La Rioja. It was a part of the Roman Empire, inhabited by the Vascones, later controlled on its southern fringes by the Muslims Banu Qasi, whose authority was taken over by the taifa kingdom of Tudela in the 11th century.

reconquistaDuring the Reconquista, Navarra gained little ground at the expense of the Muslims, since its southern boundary had already been established by the time of the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. Starting in the 11th century, the Way of Saint James grew in importance. It brought pilgrims, traders and Christian soldiers from the North.

Gascons and Occitanians from beyond the Pyrenees, called Franks, received self-government and privileges to foster settlement in Navarra bringing their crafts, culture and Romance languages.

Unknown-6Jews and Muslims were persecuted and expelled for the most part during the late 15th century to the early 16th century. The kingdom struggled to maintain its separate identity in 14th and 15th centuries, and after King Fernando forcibly annexed Navarra after the death of his wife Queen Isabella, he extended the Castilian expulsion and forcible integration orders applicable to conversos and mudejars of 1492 to the former kingdom.

Unknown-7Navarra leads Europe in its use of renewable energy technology as by 2004, 61% of the region’s electricity was generated by renewable sources consisting of 43.6% from 28 wind farms, 12% from over 100 small-scale water turbines, and 5.3% from 2 biomass and 2 biogas plants.

In addition, the region had what was then Spain’s largest photovoltaic power plant at Montes de Cierzo de Tudela (1.2 MWp capacity) plus several hundred smaller photovoltaic installations. Developments since 2004 have included further photovoltaic plants at Larrión (0.25 MWp) and another at Castejón (2.44 MWp), also once the largest in Spain.

Spanish is the official language throughout Navarra although Basque also has official status in the Basque-speaking area. The northwestern part of the community is largely Basque-speaking, while the southern part is mostly Spanish-speaking. The capital, Pamplona, is in the mixed region. Navarre is divided into three parts linguistically: regions where Basque is widespread and official (the Basque-speaking area), regions where Basque is present and has reduced official recognition (the mixed region), and regions where Basque is non-official. Nowadays around 25% of people speaks Basque and there is an increasing tendency.