Bilbao(redirected from Bilboa)
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(originally Belvao, in Basque, beautiful ford), city in northern Spain, on the lower Nervión River, on the Bay of Biscay of the Atlantic Ocean. Center of the historical region of the Basque country and of the province of Vizcaya. Population, 360,400 (1968). Population of greater Bilbao, about 600,000. It is a transportation junction; the port’s freight turnover reaches almost 8 million tons a year. Bilbao is one of the country’s most important centers of heavy industry, the development of which began in the second half of the 19th century. More than 128,000 people are employed in the industry of greater Bilbao (1960), more than half of the economically active population. The major branches are ferrous metallurgy, based on nearby iron ore deposits (plants are in the suburbs of Sestao, Basauri, and Baracaldo) and construction of heavy machinery (especially the production of railroad equipment and shipbuilding). In the production of industrial equipment foreign firms, especially English, occupy important positions. The chemical industry is being developed (the production of nitric fertilizers, plastics, and so forth). There are glass and textile enterprises and other branches of industry. In the city there is a university, a higher technical school, and a museum of fine arts. The old city is on the right bank of the Nervión River; the new city was built in the late 19th and in the 20th centuries.
Bilbao was founded in 1300. During the National Revolutionary War of 1936–39, Bilbao was the capital of the autonomous Basque region and a stronghold of the republican north; it was seized by the fascists on June 20, 1937. Bilbao is a center in the struggle against the regime of Franco.