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Map of comarcas of Biscay showing Greater Bilbao comarca in blue.

Greater Bilbao (Basque: Bilbo Handia, Spanish: Gran Bilbao) also known as Metropolitan Bilbao is a comarca and metropolitan area of Biscay, Spain. Greater Bilbao is a conurbation consisting of a number of municipalities along the Nervion River, plus some satellite towns.



A panoramic view of Greater Bilbao, as seen from the funicular of La Reineta
Gran Bilbao real color image taken by NASA's Landsat satellite.
Infrared image taken July 5th 2000 by ASTER sensor on board NASA's Terra satellite. Reddish areas are vegetation zones, dark blue zones are water bodies, white zones are clouds, their shadows can be clearly seen and greenish pixels denote the densely urbanized areas beside the Nervion river. Source: Earth Observatory (NASA).

Greater Bilbao is the fifth most populated metropolitan area in Spain with 950,155 inhabitants in 2007[1](Bilbao the municipality, has 354,145 residents). Almost 80% of the population of Biscay and 43% of the population of the Basque Country is concentrated in the Greater Bilbao area. The metropolitan area's municipalities, as defined by the Basque Country's Territorial Directives[2], are: Abanto y Zierbena, Alonsotegi, Arrankudiaga, Arrigorriaga, Barakaldo, Barrika, Basauri, Berango, Bilbao, Derio, Etxebarri, Erandio, Galdakao, Getxo, Górliz, Larrabetzu, Lejona, Lemoiz, Lezama, Loiu, Muskiz, Ortuella, Plentzia, Portugalete, Santurtzi, Sestao, Sondika, Sopelana, Ugao-Miraballes, Urduliz, Valle de Trápaga-Trapagaran, Zamudio, Zaratamo and Zeberio.

On a wider sense, other towns outside the formal boundaries of Greater Bilbao and Biscay can be considered part of the metropolitan area because of their intense relationship with Greater Bilbao in terms of transport, economy and leisure activities. These towns include Mungia, Lemoa, Amorebieta, Durango in Biscay; Laudio in Alava and Castro Urdiales in Cantabria[3].

The area is structured into different zones:

  • The city of Bilbao: The main business and services hub of the metropolitan area, with roughly 40% of its population.
  • The left bank: Traditionally an industrial, port, and manufacturing zone. It includes Barakaldo, Sestao, Portugalete or Santurce.
  • The right bank: A residential area, including Erandio, Leioa, and the more afluent Getxo,.
  • The mining zone, where the main iron ore resources were located: Muskiz, Gallarta, Ortuella
  • Txoriherri, wide expansion zone where the international airport and the University of the Basque Country are located.
  • Hego Uribe, including Basauri, Galdakao or Arrigorriaga.
  • Uribe-Kosta: the coastal area north of Getxo is being integrated into the metropolitan area in the recent years, with the development of low density residential areas connected by the metro.

Urban Regeneration

The Bilbao Ria 2000 corporation was founded in 1992 by the Bilbao and Barakaldo municipalities, the Greater Bilbao metropolitan area, and the Basque and Spanish Governments. The corporation's aim was to regenerate the city-planning of Bilbao and its surroundings, which were heavily punished by intense industrial contamination and decay. Among the projects this institution implemented was the recovery of Abandoibarra, once an industrial ground and now the site of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Euskalduna Palace.

In parallel to Bilbao Ria 2000 , the Bilbao Metropoli-30 association was constituted in 1991 by the City council of Bilbao, the Biscay and Basque Governments and diverse public and private organizations for the regeneration of Metropolitan Bilbao.

The area is since 1995 fully interconnected by the Metro Bilbao.

Population of the Metropolitan Area

View of the region from Rontegi Bridge, Barakaldo.
  • Greater Bilbao Area (35 municipalities)[4]
Left bank and Mining zone(Barakaldo - Santurtzi) 263,293
Hego Uribe (Basauri - Galdakao) 130,427
Bilbao (Bilbao - Txorierri) 379,116
Right Bank and Uribe Kosta (Getxo - Erandio) 177,319
Total 950,155
  • Satellite towns (6 municipalities)[5]
Amorebieta 16,800
Castro Urdiales 26,800
Durango 26,131
Laudio 18,623
Lemoa 2,831
Mungia 14,052
Total 98,437
Total Met. Area 1,048,592


External links



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