Asturias, in full the Principality of Asturias (Spanish: Principado de Asturias; Asturian: Principáu d'Asturies) is an autonomous community within the kingdom of Spain. It was the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages.
Asturias is situated on the Spanish north coast (Bay of Biscay). It is bordered on the east by Cantabria, on the south by Castile-León, on the west by Galicia (Lugo), and on the north by the Cantabrian Sea.
Its capital is Oviedo (Uviéu). Other important cities are the seaport and largest city Gijón (Xixón) and the industrial town of Avilés. Other towns include Mieres, Langreo (with La Felguera and Sama), Pola de Siero, Luarca, Luanco (Lluanco) Cangas de Onís, Cangas del Narcea, Grado, Lena, Laviana, El Entrego, Villaviciosa, Vegadeo, and Llanes.
Its population is around 1.1 million.
(sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asturian_language)
Asturian (Asturianu) is a Romance language of the West Iberian group, Astur-Leonese Subgroup, spoken by the Asturian people. In Asturias, even though it is not an official language it is protected under the Autonomous Statute legislation and is an optional language at schools.
The language developed from Vulgar Latin with contributions from the pre-Roman languages, which were spoken in the territory of the Astures, an ancient tribe of the Iberian peninsula. Castilian Spanish came to the area later, in the 14th century, when the central administration sent emissaries and functionaries to occupy political and ecclesiastical offices. Nowadays, Asturian codification of Astur-Leonese spoken in the Asturian Autonomous Community has become a modern language, after the birth of "Academy of the Asturian Language" in 1980. Mirandese is very close to Asturian.
Much effort has been made since 1974 to protect and promote Asturian. In 1994, there were 100,000 first-language speakers, and 450,000 second-language speakers able to speak or understand Asturian. However, the situation of Asturian is critical, with a large decline in the number of speakers in the last 100 years.
At the end of the 20th century, the Academia de la Llingua Asturiana made efforts to provide the language with most of the tools needed by a language to ensure its survival: a grammar, a dictionary, and periodicals. A new generation of Asturian writers have also championed the language. These developments give the Asturian language a greater hope of survival.
Many internet pages use the Asturian language; the councils pages, the music groups pages and more. In this area, Ubuntu has the Asturian language as a normal language in their programs for computers.
Although Spanish (Castellano) is the official language used in all schools in Asturias, children are required to take Asturian Language classes from age 6 to 16. Optional classes are offered from age 16 to 19.
Also, with the new Bologna process people will be able to study at university Asturian Philology in the same way as Spanish Philology, and school-teachers will be able to do a speciality in the Asturian language. But these two possibilities can only be studied in the University of Oviedo (Asturias).