Biscay is a province of Spain located just south of the Bay of Biscay. The name also refers to a territory of the Basque Country. It is one of the most prosperous and important provinces of Spain as a result of the massive industrialization in the last years of the 19th century, since the deep deindustrialization of the 1970s, the economy has come to rely more on the services sector. It is accepted in linguistics that Bizkaia is a cognate of bizkar, “Bizkaia” is the Basque denomination recommended by the Royal Academy of the Basque language, and it is commonly used on official documents on that language. It is also used on documents in Spanish, and it is the most used denomination by the media in Spanish in the Basque Country. It is also the used in the Basque version of the Spanish constitution. Bizkaia is also the official denomination approved for the historical territory by the Juntas Generales of the province. “Vizcaya” is the denomination in Spanish, recommended by the Royal Spanish Academy and it is used in non-official documents and, in general, by Spanish speakers. It is also the Spanish denomination used in the Spanish version of the Constitution, Biscay has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic, as attested by the archaeological remains and cave paintings found in its many caves. The Roman presence had little impact in the region, and the Basque language, Biscay was identified in records of the Middle Ages, as a dependency of the Kingdom of Pamplona that became autonomous and finally a part of the Crown of Castile. The first mention of the name Biscay was recorded in an act to the monastery of Bickaga. According to Anton Erkoreka, the Vikings had a base there from which they were expelled by 825. The ria of Mundaka is the easiest route to the river Ebro and at the end of it, in the modern age, the province became a major commercial and industrial area. Its prime harbour of Bilbao soon became the main Castilian gateway to Europe, later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the abundance of prime quality iron ore and the lack of feudal castes favored rapid industrialization. The first evidence of dwellings in Biscay happens in this period of prehistory. Mousterian artifacts have been found in three sites in Biscay, Benta Laperra, Kurtzia and Murua, chatelperronian culture can be found in Santimamiñe cave. The Benta Laperra cave has the oldest paintings, maybe from the Aurignacian or Solutrean period, bison and bear are the animals depicted, together with abstract signs. The murals of Arenaza and Santimamiñe were created in later periods, in Arenaza female deer are the dominant motif, Santimamiñe features bison, horses, goats and deer
Entrance of Santimamiñe cave, in Busturialdea.
Monument to Lope García de Salazar (1399-1476), opposite one of his tower houses, in Portugalete.