Autonomous communities of Spain
In Spain, an autonomous community is a first-level political and administrative division, created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978, with the aim of guaranteeing limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make up Spain. Spain is not a federation, but a decentralized unitary state. While sovereignty is vested in the nation as a whole, represented in the central institutions of government, the nation has, in variable degrees, devolved power to the communities, which, in turn, exercise their right to self-government within the limits set forth in the constitution and their autonomous statutes; each community has its own set of devolved powers. Some scholars have referred to the resulting system as a federal system in all but name, or a "federation without federalism". There are 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities that are collectively known as "autonomies"; the two autonomous cities have the right to become autonomous communities, but neither has yet exercised it.
This unique framework of territorial administration is known as the "State of Autonomies". The autonomous communities are governed according to the constitution and their own organic laws known as Statutes of Autonomy, which contain all the competences that they assume. Since devolution was intended to be asymmetrical in nature, the scope of competences vary for each community, but all have the same parliamentary structure. Spain is a diverse country made up of several different regions with varying economic and social structures, as well as different languages and historical and cultural traditions. While the entire Spanish territory was united under one crown in 1479 this was not a process of national homogenization or amalgamation; the constituent territories—be it crowns, principalities or dominions—retained much of their former institutional existence, including limited legislative, judicial or fiscal autonomy. These territories exhibited a variety of local customs, laws and currencies until the mid nineteenth century.
From the 18th century onwards, the Bourbon kings and the government tried to establish a more centralized regime. Leading figures of the Spanish Enlightenment advocated for the building of a Spanish nation beyond the internal territorial boundaries; this culminated in 1833, when Spain was divided into 49 provinces, which served as transmission belts for policies developed in Madrid. However, unlike in other European countries such as France, where regional languages were spoken in rural areas or less developed regions, two important regional languages of Spain were spoken in some of the most industrialized areas, moreover, enjoyed higher levels of prosperity, in addition to having their own cultures and historical consciousness; these were Catalonia. This gave rise to peripheral nationalisms along with Spanish nationalism; therefore and social changes that had produced a national cultural unification in France had the opposite effect in Spain. As such, Spanish history since the late 19th century has been shaped by a dialectical struggle between Spanish nationalism and peripheral nationalisms in Catalonia and the Basque Country, to a lesser degree in Galicia.
In a response to Catalan demands, limited autonomy was granted to Catalonia in 1914, only to be abolished in 1923. It was granted again in 1932 during the Second Spanish Republic, when the Generalitat, Catalonia's mediaeval institution of government, was restored; the constitution of 1931 envisaged a territorial division for all Spain in "autonomous regions", never attained—only Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia had approved "Statutes of Autonomy"—the process being thwarted by the Spanish Civil War that broke out in 1936, the victory of the rebel Nationalist forces under Francisco Franco. During General Franco's dictatorial regime, centralism was most forcefully enforced as a way of preserving the "unity of the Spanish nation". Peripheral nationalism, along with communism and atheism were regarded by his regime as the main threats, his attempts to fight separatism with heavy-handed but sporadic repression, his severe suppression of language and regional identities backfired: the demands for democracy became intertwined with demands for the recognition of a pluralistic vision of the Spanish nationhood.
When Franco died in 1975, Spain entered into a phase of transition towards democracy. The most difficult task of the newly democratically elected Cortes Generales in 1977 acting as a Constituent Assembly was to transition from a unitary centralized state into a decentralized state in a way that would satisfy the demands of the peripheral nationalists; the Prime Minister of Spain, Adolfo Suárez, met with Josep Tarradellas, president of the Generalitat of Catalonia in exile. An agreement was made so that the Generalitat would be restored and limited competencies would be transferred while the constitution was still being written. Shortly after, the government allowed the creation of "assemblies of members of parliament" integrated by deputies and senators of the different territories of Spain, so that they could constitute "pre-autonomic regimes" for their regions as well; the Fathers of the Constitution had to strike a balance between the opposing views of Spain—on the one hand, the centralist view inherited from Franco's regime, on the other hand federalism and a pluralistic view of Spain as a "nation of nations".
The Peninsular War was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain its ally; the war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare. The Peninsular War overlaps with what the Spanish-speaking world calls the Guerra de la Independencia Española, which began with the Dos de Mayo Uprising on 2 May 1808 and ended on 17 April 1814; the French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. The episode remains as the bloodiest event in Spain's modern history, doubling in relative terms the Spanish Civil War. A reconstituted national government, the Cortes of Cádiz—in effect a government-in-exile—fortified itself in Cádiz in 1810, but could not raise effective armies because it was besieged by 70,000 French troops.
British and Portuguese forces secured Portugal, using it as a safe position from which to launch campaigns against the French army and provide whatever supplies they could get to the Spanish, while the Spanish armies and guerrillas tied down vast numbers of Napoleon's troops. These combined regular and irregular allied forces, by restricting French control of territory, prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces, the war continued through years of stalemate; the British Army, under Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army; the demoralised Portuguese army was reorganised and refitted under the command of Gen. William Beresford, appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese royal family, fought as part of the combined Anglo-Portuguese Army under Wellesley. In 1812, when Napoleon set out with a massive army on what proved to be a disastrous French invasion of Russia, a combined allied army under Wellesley pushed into Spain, defeating the French at Salamanca and taking Madrid.
In the following year Wellington scored a decisive victory over King Joseph Bonaparte's army in the Battle of Vitoria. Pursued by the armies of Britain and Portugal, Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult, no longer able to get sufficient support from a depleted France, led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees during the winter of 1813–1814; the years of fighting in Spain were a heavy burden on France's Grande Armée. While the French were victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were tested and their units were isolated, harassed or overwhelmed by partisans fighting an intense guerrilla war of raids and ambushes; the Spanish armies were beaten and driven to the peripheries, but they would regroup and relentlessly hound the French. This drain on French resources led Napoleon, who had unwittingly provoked a total war, to call the conflict the "Spanish Ulcer". War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812 a cornerstone of European liberalism.
The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain, ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal and absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850; the cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion and restoration led to the independence of most of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazil from Portugal. The Treaties of Tilsit, negotiated during a meeting in July 1807 between Emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon, concluded the War of the Fourth Coalition. With Prussia shattered, the Russian Empire allied with the First French Empire, Napoleon expressed irritation that Portugal was open to trade with the United Kingdom. Pretexts were plentiful. Furthermore, Prince John of Braganza, regent for his insane mother Queen Maria I, had declined to join the emperor's Continental System against British trade. Events moved rapidly.
The Emperor sent orders on 19 July 1807 to his Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, to order Portugal to declare war on Britain, close its ports to British ships, detain British subjects on a provisional basis and sequester their goods. After a few days, a large force started concentrating at Bayonne. Meanwhile, the Portuguese government's resolve was stiffening, shortly afterward Napoleon was once again told that Portugal would not go beyond its original agreements. Napoleon now had all the pretext that he needed, while his force, the First Corps of Observation of the Gironde with divisional general Jean-Andoche Junot in command, was prepared to march on Lisbon. After he received the Portuguese answer, he ordered Junot's corps to cross the frontier into the Spanish Empire. While all this was going on, the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau had been signed between France and Spain; the document was drawn up by Napoleon's marshal of the palace Géraud Duroc and Eugenio Izquierdo, an agent for Manuel Godoy.
The treaty proposed to carve up Portugal into three
Castro Urdiales is a seaport of northern Spain, in the autonomous community of Cantabria, situated on the Bay of Biscay. Castro Urdiales is a modern town, although its castle and the Gothic-style parish church of Santa María de la Asunción, date from the Middle Ages, its chief industries are tourism and the preservation of fish sardines and anchovies, in oil. The "Lolin" and "La Castreña" anchovy canning factories serve as a reminder of the town's closeness to this industry and its proximity to the sea. Although the number of people registered in the town is around 32,000, the summer population can double or triple this figure; the town is popular because of scenic harbor. Castro Urdiales was called Castronegro, was the chief city of the Autrigones. In AD 74 a Roman colony was established under the name Castronegro, during the reign of emperor Vespasian, it was most established to mine the abundant iron in the area. In 1163 the town of Castro Urdiales received its municipal charter, it lay at the western tip of the coastline of Navarre until 1200, when the kingdom was invaded by Alfonso VIII of Castile.
Castro Urdiales benefited much from its location at a crossroads in the trade between northern Europe and Castile. It remained in Biscay until 1476 at least, but it is not cited in the seigneury's assemblies thereafter; until the 18th century, the town recurrently attempted a reincorporation to Biscay, but its attempts were met with the frontal refusal of Bilbao on account that it could tip the scale against its own trade balance. It was speedily rebuilt and fortified, its rapid rise in population and prosperity dates from the increased development of iron-mining and railway communication which took place after 1879. The monument complex of Castro Urdiales known as Puebla Vieja, has medieval origins and is located near the sea, it was declared a Conjunto histórico in 1978. The Church of Santa María de la Asunción is in Gothic style. Built under the protection of King Alfonso VIII of Castile in the 13th century, it is a basilica church with three naves. In the interior are the images of the White Virgin and the Reclining Christ, three Gothic carvings of the Magi.
It was declared a National Monument in 1931. The Castle of Santa Ana is located near the church of Santa María de la Asunción. In modern times it housed a lighthouse. Other sights include: Palace, castle-observatory and Ocharan gardens, protected since 1985; the castle-observatory, dating back to 1914 and designed by local architect Eladio Laredo, is in neo-Gothic style. The Ocharan Palace, or Toki-Eder, was built in 1901 by the local architect Eladio Laredo, it is an eclectic-style building, with a portico of columns and other elements of Greek taste, with a multicolored tile frieze designed by Daniel Zuloaga. Ruins of the medieval tower of the Templars, in Allendelagua, on the mountain side, it belonged to the Knights Templars and is in poor condition. Cave of El Cuco, west of the town, it houses rock carvings and paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period, which depict animals such as deers and horses. Cave of La Lastrilla Cave Grande or de los Corrales Cave Aurelia Castro of la Peña de Sámano Remains of Flavióbriga and the medieval village, protected since 1996.
The Flavióbriga archaeological site is under the Old town, two meters deep. Remains of a Roman colony can be visited in the Regional Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria. Water driving of El Chorrillo, a work of hydraulic engineering from the Roman age. Tower-House of Los Otañes, in Otañes. Ruins of the Hospital de la Vera Cruz, in Islares. City Hall Tower-House of Cerdigo, built in Cerdigo between the 18th centuries. Archaeological site of Patera de Otañes, in the village of Otañe. Roman mile-stone, opposite the Church of Santa María. Dating to 61 AD, it marked the distance to Pisoraca, it has an inscription that reads "Nero Claudius, son of the divine Claudius, Augustus, Pontifex maximus, with the tribunician power for eighth time, the empire for ninth and the consulate for fourth. From Pisoraca one hundred and eighty miles". Iglesia de San Pedro, in Romanesque style. Aire-sur-l'Adour, France Bucraa, Western Sahara Miyek, Western Sahara Jerez de la Frontera, Spain Charles Anthon, A System of Ancient and Mediæval Geography for the Use of Schools and Colleges, p. 57 Official website Information on Castro Urdiales Pictures of Castro Urdiales
Bilbao is a city in northern Spain, the largest city in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country as a whole. It is the largest city proper in northern Spain. Bilbao is the tenth largest city in Spain, with a population of 345,141 as of 2015; the Bilbao metropolitan area has 1 million inhabitants, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in northern Spain. Bilbao is the main urban area in what is defined as the Greater Basque region. Bilbao is situated in the north-central part of Spain, some 16 kilometres south of the Bay of Biscay, where the economic social development is located, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed, its main urban core is surrounded by two small mountain ranges with an average elevation of 400 metres. Its climate is shaped by the Bay of Biscay low-pressure systems and mild air, moderating summer temperatures by Iberian standards, with low sunshine and high rainfall; the annual temperature range is low for its latitude. After its foundation in the early 14th century by Diego López V de Haro, head of the powerful Haro family, Bilbao was a commercial hub of the Basque Country that enjoyed significant importance in Green Spain.
This was due to its port activity based on the export of iron extracted from the Biscayan quarries. Throughout the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialisation, making it the centre of the second-most industrialised region of Spain, behind Barcelona. At the same time an extraordinary population explosion prompted the annexation of several adjacent municipalities. Nowadays, Bilbao is a vigorous service city, experiencing an ongoing social and aesthetic revitalisation process, started by the iconic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, continued by infrastructure investments, such as the airport terminal, the rapid transit system, the tram line, the Azkuna Zentroa, the under development Abandoibarra and Zorrozaurre renewal projects. Bilbao is home to football club Athletic Club de Bilbao, a significant symbol for Basque nationalism due to its promotion of only Basque players and one of the most successful clubs in Spanish football history. On 19 May 2010, the city of Bilbao was recognised with the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, awarded by the city state of Singapore, in collaboration with the Swedish Nobel Academy.
Considered the Nobel Prize for urbanism, it was handed out on 29 June 2010. On 7 January 2013, its mayor, Iñaki Azkuna, received the 2012 World Mayor Prize awarded every two years by the British foundation The City Mayors Foundation, in recognition of the urban transformation experienced by the Biscayan capital since the 1990s. On 8 November 2017, Bilbao was chosen the Best European City 2018 at The Urbanism Awards 2018, awarded by the international organisation The Academy of Urbanism; the official name of the town is Bilbao, as known in most languages of the world. Euskaltzaindia, the official regulatory institution of the Basque language, has agreed that between the two possible names existing in Basque and Bilbo, the historical name is Bilbo, while Bilbao is the official name. Although the term Bilbo does not appear in old documents, in the play The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, there is a reference to swords made of Biscayan iron which he calls "bilboes", suggesting that it is a word used since at least the sixteenth century.
There is no consensus among historians about the origin of the name. Accepted accounts state that prior to the 12th century the independent rulers of the territory, named Senores de Zubialdea, were known as Senores de Bilbao la Vieja; the symbols of their patrimony are the church used in the shield of Bilbao to this day. One possible origin was suggested by the engineer Evaristo de Churruca, he said. For Bilbao this would be the result of the union of the Basque words for river and cove: Bil-Ibaia-Bao; the historian José Tussel Gómez argues that it is just a natural evolution of the Spanish words bello vado, beautiful river crossing. On the other hand, according to the writer Esteban Calle Iturrino, the name derives from the two settlements that existed on both banks of the estuary, rather than from the estuary itself; the first, where the present Casco Viejo is located, would be called billa, which means stacking in Basque, after the configuration of the buildings. The second, on the left bank, where now Bilbao La Vieja is located, would be called vaho, Spanish for mist or steam.
From the union of these two derives the name Bilbao, written as Bilvao and Biluao, as documented in its municipal charter. An -ao ending is present in nearby Sestao and Ugao, that could be explained from Basque aho, "mouth"; the demonym is "bilbaíno, -a", although the popular pronunciation bilbaino/a is frequent. In euskera it is bilbotar, sometimes used in Spanish within the Basque Country; the village is affectionately known by its inhabitants as «the botxo», that is, «the hole», since it is surrounded by mountains. The nickname "botxero" is derived from this nickname. Another nickname that Bilbao receives is that of "chimbos", which comes from birds that were hunted in large numbers in these places during the XIX century; the titles, the flag and the coat of arms are Bilbao's traditional symbols and belong to its historic patrimony, being used in formal acts, for the identification and decoration of specific places or for the validation of documents. TitlesBilbao holds the historic category of borough, with the titles of "Very noble and loyal and unbeaten" ("Mu
Comarcas of Spain
In Spain traditionally and some autonomous communities are divided into comarcas. Some comarcas have a defined status, are regulated by law and their comarcal councils have some power. In some other cases their legal status is not formal for they correspond to natural areas, like valleys, river basins and mountainous areas, or to historical regions overlapping different provinces and ancient kingdoms. In such comarcas or natural regions municipalities have resorted to organizing themselves in mancomunidad, like the Taula del Sénia, the only legal formula that has allowed those comarcas to manage their public municipal resources meaningfully. There is a comarca, the Cerdanya, divided between two states, the southwestern half being counted as a comarca of Spain, while the northeastern half is part of France. In English, a comarca is equivalent to a district, area or zone. Alto Almanzora Poniente Almeriense Níjar Los Vélez Levante Almería Bahía de Cádiz Bajo Guadalquivir called Costa Noroeste Campo de Gibraltar La Janda Campiña de Jerez called Marco de Jerez Sierra de Cádiz Alto Guadalquivir Campiña de Baena Campiña Este - Guadajoz Campiña Sur Los Pedroches Subbetica Valle del Guadiato Valle Medio del Guadalquivir Granadin Alpujarra Comarca de Alhama Comarca de Baza Comarca de Guadix Comarca de Huéscar Comarca de Loja Granadin Coast Los Montes Lecrin Valley Vega de Granada Andévalo Condado de Huelva Cuenca Minera de Huelva Costa Occidental de Huelva Huelva Sierra de Huelva Alto Guadalquivir - Cazorla La Campiña El Condado Área Metropolitana de Jaén La Loma Las Villas Norte Sierra Mágina Sierra de Segura Sierra Sur de Jaén Antequera Axarquía Costa del Sol Occidental Málaga Serranía de Ronda Valle del Guadalhorce Aljarafe Bajo Guadalquivir Campiña Estepa Marisma Sierra Norte Sierra Sur La Vega Alto Gállego Bajo Cinca called Baix Cinca Cinca Medio Hoya de Huesca called Plana de Uesca Jacetania La Litera called La Llitera Monegros Ribagorza Sobrarbe Somontano de Barbastro Bajo Martín Jiloca Cuencas Mineras Andorra-Sierra de Arcos Bajo Aragón Comunidad de Teruel Maestrazgo Sierra de Albarracín Comarca, named after the Sierra de Albarracín mountain range Gúdar-Javalambre Matarraña called Matarranya Aranda Bajo Aragón-Caspe called Baix Aragó-Casp Campo de Belchite Campo de Borja Campo de Cariñena Campo de Daroca Cinco Villas Comunidad de Calatayud Ribera Alta del Ebro Ribera Baja del Ebro Tarazona y el Moncayo Valdejalón Zaragoza Avilés Caudal Eo-Navia Gijón / Xixón Nalón Narcea Oriente Oviedo / Uviéu Serra de Tramuntana Es Raiguer Es Pla Migjorn Llevant Menorca Eivissa Formentera Añana Aiara / Ayala Agurain / Salvatierra Vitoria-Gasteiz Zuia Arabako Mendialdea / Montaña Alavesa Arabako Errioxa / Rioja Alavesa Arratia-Nerbioi Busturialdea Durangaldea Enkarterri Greater Bilbao Lea-Artibai Uribe Bidasoa-Txingudi Debabarrena Debagoiena Goierri Donostialdea Tolosaldea Urola Kosta Fuerteventura Lanzarote Las Palmas El Hierro La Gomera La Palma Tenerife Valle de Güímar Valle de la Orotava Icod Daute Isla Baja Isora-Teno Tenerife Sur Tenerife Sur Acentejo Metropolitana-Anaga Comarca de Santander Besaya Saja-Nansa Costa occidental Costa oriental Trasmiera Pas-Miera Asón-Agüera Liébana Campoo-Los Valles Alt Penedès Anoia Bages Baix Llobregat Barcelonès Berguedà Garraf Maresme Moianès Osona Vallès Occidental Vallès Oriental Alt Empordà Baix Empordà Baixa Cerdanya Garrotxa Gironès Osona Pla de l'Estany Ripollès Selva Alt Urgell Alta Ribagorça Baixa Cerdanya Garrigues Noguera Pallars Jussà Pallars Sobirà Pla d'Urgell Segarra Segrià Solsonès Urgell Val d'Aran Alt Camp Baix Camp Baix Ebre Baix Penedès Conca de Barberà Montsià Priorat Ribera d'Ebre Tarragonès Terra Alta Llanos de Albacete Campos de Hellín La Mancha del Júcar-Centro La Manchuela Monte Ibérico–Corredor de Almansa Sierra de Alcaraz y Campo de Montiel Sierra del Segura Campo de Montiel.
Alcarria conquense. La Mancha de Cuenca. Manchuela conquense. Serranía Alta. Serranía Baja. Serranía Media-Campichuelo. Campiña de Guadalajara Campiña del Henares La Alcarria La Serranía Señorío de Molina-Alto Tajo Campo de San Juan La Jara La Campana de Oropesa Mancha Alta de Toledo Mesa de Ocaña Montes de Toledo La Sagra Sierra de San Vicente Tierras de Talavera Torrijos La Moraña Comarca de Ávila Comarca de El Barco de Ávila - Piedrahíta Comarca de Burgohondo - El Tiemblo - Cebreros Comarca de Arenas de San Pedro Merindades Páramos La Bureba Ebro Odra-Pisuerga Alfoz de Burgos Montes de Oca Arlanza Sierra de la Demanda Ribera del Duero La Montaña de Luna La Montaña de Riaño La Cabrera Astorga El Bierzo Tierras de León La Bañeza El Páramo Esla-Campos Sahagún Cerrato Palentino Montaña Palentina Páramos Valles Tierra de Campos Comarca de Vitigudino Comarca de Ciudad Rodrigo La Armuña Las Villas Tierra de Peñaranda Tierra de Cantalapiedra Tierra de Ledesma Comarca de Guijuelo Tierra de Alba Sierra de Béjar Sierra de Francia Campo de Salamanca An official classification establishes three comarcas: Segovia.
Cuéllar. Sepúlveda.or sometimes four: Tierra de Pinares. Segovia. Sepúlveda. Tierra de Ayllón. However, historic approaches establish six comarcas: Tierra de Pinares. Tierra de Ayllón. Tierras de Cantalejo y
Basque Country (autonomous community)
The Basque Country the Basque Autonomous Community is an autonomous community in northern Spain. It includes the Basque provinces of Álava and Gipuzkoa; the Basque Country or Basque Autonomous Community was granted the status of nationality within Spain, attributed by the Spanish Constitution of 1978. The autonomous community is based on the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country, a foundational legal document providing the framework for the development of the Basque people on Spanish soil. Navarre, which had narrowly rejected a joint statue of autonomy with Gipuzkoa, Álava and Biscay in 1932, was granted a separate statute in 1982. There is no official capital in the autonomous community, but the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the province of Álava, is the de facto capital as the location of the Basque Parliament, the headquarters of the Basque Government, the residence of the President of the Basque Autonomous Community; the High Court of Justice of the Basque Country has its headquarters in the city of Bilbao.
Whilst Vitoria-Gasteiz is the largest municipality in area, with 277 km2, Bilbao is the largest in population, with 353,187 people, located in the province of Biscay within a conurbation of 875,552 people. The term Basque Country may refer to the larger cultural region, the home of the Basque people, which includes the autonomous community; the following provinces make up the autonomous community: Álava, capital Vitoria-Gasteiz Biscay, capital Bilbao-Bilbo Gipuzkoa, capital Donostia-San Sebastián The Basque Country borders Cantabria and the Burgos province to the west, the Bay of Biscay to the north and Navarre to the east and La Rioja to the south. The territory has three distinct areas, which are defined by the two parallel ranges of the Basque Mountains; the main range of mountains forms the watershed between the Mediterranean basins. The highest point of the range is in the Aizkorri massif; the three areas are: Formed by many valleys with short rivers that flow from the mountains to the Bay of Biscay, like the Nervión, Urola or Oria.
The coast is rough, with small inlets. The main features of the coast are the Bilbao Abra Bay and the Estuary of Bilbao, the Urdaibai estuary and the Bidasoa-Txingudi Bay that forms the border with France. Between the two mountain ranges, the area is occupied by a high plateau called Llanada Alavesa, where the capital Vitoria-Gasteiz is located; the rivers flow south from the mountains to the Ebro River. The main rivers are the Zadorra Bayas River. From the southern mountains to the Ebro is the so-called Rioja Alavesa, which shares the Mediterranean characteristics of other Ebro Valley zones; some of Spain's production of Rioja wine takes place here. The Basque Mountains form the watershed and mark the distinct climatic areas of the Basque Country: The northern valleys, in Biscay and Gipuzkoa and the valley of Ayala in Álava, are part of Green Spain, where the oceanic climate is predominant, with its wet weather all year round and moderate temperatures. Precipitation average is about 1200 mm; the middle section is influenced more by the continental climate, but with a varying degree of the northern oceanic climate.
This gives cold, snowy winters. The Ebro valley has a pure continental climate: winters are cold and dry and summers warm and dry, with precipitation peaking in spring and autumn. Precipitation is irregular, as low as 300 mm. Half of the 2,155,546 inhabitants of the Basque Autonomous Community live in Greater Bilbao, Bilbao's metropolitan area. Of the ten most populous cities, six form part of Bilbao's conurbation, known as Greater Bilbao. With 28.2% of the Basque population born outside this region, immigration is crucial to Basque demographics. Over the 20th century most of this immigration came from other parts of Spain from Galicia or Castile and León. Over recent years, sizeable numbers of this population have returned to their birthplaces and most immigration to the Basque country now comes from abroad, chiefly from South America. Roman Catholicism is, by far, the largest religion in the Basque Country. In 2012, the proportion of Basques that identified themselves as Roman Catholic was 58.6%, while it is one of the most secularised communities of Spain: 24.6% were non-religious and 12.3% of Basques were atheist.
Bilbao-Bilbo Vitoria-Gasteiz San Sebastián-Donostia Barakaldo Getxo Irun Portugalete Santurtzi Basauri Errenteria Spanish and Basque are co-official in all territories of the autonomous community. The Basque-speaking areas in the modern-day autonomous community are set against the wider context of the Basque language, spoken to the east in Navarre and the French Basque Country; the whole Basque speaking territory has experienced both expansion in its history. The Basque language experienced a gradual territorial contraction throughout the last nine centuries, severe deterioration of its sociolinguistic status for much of the 20th century due to heavy immigration from other parts of Spain, the virtual nonexistence of Basque language schooling, national policies implemented by the different Spanish régimes. After the advent of the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Countr