From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the commune in Moldova, see Alava, Ştefan Vodă.
For other places with similar names, see Araba.
Historical Territory of Álava1
Flag of Álava
Coat-of-arms of Álava
Coat of arms
Alava in Spain.svg
Country  Spain
Autonomous Community  Basque Country
Capital Vitoria-Gasteiz
 • Deputy General Javier de Andrés (People's Party)
 • Total 2,963 km2 (1,144 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 322,557
 • Density 110/km2 (280/sq mi)
 • Ranked 41
 • Percent 0.68%
Official languages Spanish, Basque
Parliament Cortes Generales
Congress seats 4
Senate seats 4
Juntas Generales de Álava 51
Website Diputación Foral de Álava
1.^ Complete official names: Arabako Lurralde Historikoa / Territorio Histórico de Álava

Álava (IPA: [ˈalaβa] in Spanish) or Araba (IPA: [aˈɾaba] in Basque), officially Araba/Álava,[1] is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Álava. Its capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz which is also the capital of the autonomous community. It borders the Basque provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa to the north, the community of La Rioja to the south, the province of Burgos (in the community of Castile and León) to the west and the community of Navarre to the east. The Enclave of Treviño is part of the province of Burgos, not Álava.

It is the largest of the three provinces in the Basque Autonomous Community in geographical terms, with 2,963 km², but also the least populated with 322 557 inhabitants (2012).


Built around the Roman mansion Alba located on the road ab Asturica Burdigalam (possibly the current village of Albeniz near Agurain), it has sometimes been argued the name may stem from that landmark. However, according to the Royal Academy of the Basque Language, the origin may be another: The name is first found on Muslim chronicles of the 8th century referring to the Alavese Plains (Spanish Llanada Alavesa, Basque Arabako Lautada), laua in old Basque (currently lautada) with the Arab article added (al + laua), developing into Spanish Álava and Basque Araba (a typical development of l to r between vowels).

Demography and rural landscape[edit]

The province numbers 51 municipalities, a population of 315,525 inhabitants in an area of 3,037 km2 (1,173 sq mi), with an average of 104.50 inhab/km².[2] The vast majority of the population clusters in the capital city of Álava, Vitoria-Gasteiz, which also serves as the capital of the Autonomous Community, but the remainder of the territory is sparsely inhabited with population nuclei distributed into seven counties (cuadrillas): Añana; Ayala; Campezo; Laguardia; Salvatierra; Vitoria-Gasteiz; Zuya.

Physical and human geography[edit]

Álava is an inland territory and features a largely transitional climate between the humid, Atlantic neighbouring northern provinces and the dry and warmer lands south of the Ebro River. According to the relief and landscape characteristics, the territory is divided into five main zones:

  • The Gorbea Foothills: Green hilly landscape.
  • The Valleys: Low valleys, drier, sparsely populated.
  • The Plains: Heartland of Álava comprising Vitoria and Salvatierra-Agurain, with a central urban area and crop landscape prevailing around and bounded south and north by the Basque Mountains.
  • The Alavese Mountains: Higher forest lands.
  • The Alavese Rioja: Oriented to the south on the left bank of the Ebro River, perfect for vineyards.
  • Ayala: The area clustering around the Nervión River, with Amurrio and Laudio as its major towns. The region shows close bonds with Bilbao and Biscaye and an industrial landscape.
Tip of the Burunda corridor in Navarre, opening Alavese Plains, and Basque Mountains (Aratz and Aizkorri on the right

Unlike Biscay and Gipuzkoa, but for Ayala and Aramaio, the waters of Álava pour into the Ebro and hence to the Mediterranean by means of two main waterways, i.e. the Zadorra (main axis of Álava) and Bayas Rivers. In addition, the Zadorra Reservoir System harvests a big quantity of waters that supply not only the capital city but other major Basque towns and cities too, like (Bilbao, etc.).

While in 1950 agriculture and farming shaped the landscape of the territory (42.4% of the working force vs 30.5% in industry and construction), the trend shifted gradually during the 60s and 70s on the grounds of a growing industrial activity in the Alavese Plains (Llanada Alavesa), with the main focus lying on the industrial estates of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Gamarra, Betoño and Ali Gobeo) and, to a lesser extent, Salvatierra-Agurain and Araia. At the turn of the century, only 2% of the working Alavese people was in agriculture, while a 60% was in the third sector and 32% in manufacturing.[2] Industry associated to iron and metal developed earlier in the Atlantic area much in tune with Bilbao's economic dynamics, with droves of people flocking to and clustering in Amurrio and Laudio, which have since become the third and second main towns of Álava.

Lordship of Álava[edit]

List of rulers (modern Spanish names):

The title is attributed to the Castilian kings after 1332.

See also[edit]


Coordinates: 42°50.67′N 2°45.62′W / 42.84450°N 2.76033°W / 42.84450; -2.76033