Álava (IPA: [ˈalaβa] in Spanish) or Araba (IPA: [aˈɾaba] in Basque, dialectal: [aˈɾaβa]), officially Araba/Álava,[1] is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lordship of Álava, former medieval Catholic bishopric and now Latin titular see.

Its capital city, Vitoria-Gasteiz, is also the seat of the political main institutions of the autonomous community.[2] 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, surrounded by Alavese territory, is however part of the province of Burgos, thus belonging to the autonomous community of Castile and León, 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 328,868 inhabitants (2018).


Arabako Lurralde Historikoa / Territorio Histórico de Álava1
Flag of Álava
Coat of arms of Álava
Coat of arms
Location of the Province of Álava within Spain
Location of the Province of Álava within Spain
Autonomous CommunityBasque Country
 • Deputy GeneralRamiro González (Basque Nationalist Party)
 • Total2,963 km2 (1,144 sq mi)
 • Total328,868
 • Density110/km2 (290/sq mi)
 • Ranked
 • Percent
Official languagesSpanish, Basque
ParliamentCortes Generales
Congress seats4
Senate seats4
Juntas Generales de Álava51
WebsiteDiputación Foral de Álava
1.^ in English: Historical Territory of Álava


Built around the Roman mansion Alba located on the road ab Asturica Burdigalam (possibly the current village of Albéniz 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

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.[3] 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 (kuadrillak or cuadrillas): Añana; Ayala; Campezo; Laguardia; Salvatierra; Vitoria-Gasteiz; Zuya.

Physical and human geography

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.
Legunbe Arabako lautada Aratz Aizkorri
Tip of the Burunda corridor in Navarre, opening on the Alavese Plains, with the 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.

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 60% was in the tertiary sector and 32% in manufacturing.[3] Industry associated with 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

List of rulers (modern Spanish names) :

The title is attributed to the Castilian kings after 1332.

Ecclesiastical history


The Arab invasion of the Ebro valley in the 8th century, many Christians of the Diocese of Calahorra sought refuge in areas further north free of Arab rule. The diocese called Álava or Armentaria was established in 870 on terrirory split off from the Diocese of Calahorra. From then until the 11th century the names of several bishops of this see are recorded, the best known being the last, Fortún, who in 1072 went to Rome to argue before Pope Alexander II in defence of the Mozarabic Rite, which King Alfonso VI of León and Castile had decreed should be replaced by the Roman Rite.

The see was suppressed in 1088, when it was merged into the Diocese of Najéra, another suffragan of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tarragona. The territory of the diocese of Álava, which corresponded more or less to that of the present diocese of Vitoria, was (re)absorbed into that of Calahorra when Najéra was suppressed in 1170, when King Alfonso VIII of Castile conquered La Rioja.[4][5]

Suffragan Bishops of Álava

(all Roman Rite) (For a list, see Antonio Rivera, ed., Historia de Álava (2003), pp. 599–600.)

  • Bivere or Aivere (before 871 – after 876)
  • Álvaro (c. 881 – c. 888)
  • Munio I (937/956 – 971)
  •  ? Julián (?–984)
  • Munio II (984–989)
  • García I (996 – c. 1021)
  • Munio III (c. 1024 – c. 1030)
  • García II (1037 – 1053/1055)
  • Fortún [Fortuño] I (1054/1055)
  • Vela (1056–1062)
  • Munio IV (1062 – c. 1065)
  • Fortún II (c. 1067 – 1088)[4]

Titular see

No longer a residential bishopric, Álava is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see[6] since the diocese was nominally restored in 1969 as Titular bishopric of Álava (español) / Alava (Curiate Italian and Latin), Latin adjective Alaven(sis).

It has had the following incumbents, so far of the fitting episcopal (lowest) rank:[5]

  • Stanisław Smolenski (1970.01.14 – death 2006.08.08) as Auxiliary Bishop of Kraków (Poland) (1970.01.14 – 1992.02.01) and on emeritate
  • Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa (2008.02.05 – 2010.08.24) as Auxiliary Bishop of Bilbao (Basque Spain) (2008.02.05 – 2010.08.24); later succeeded Bishop of Bilbao (2010.08.24 – ...)
  • Nelson Francelino Ferreira (2010.11.24 – 2014.02.12) as Auxiliary Bishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) (2010.11.24 – 2014.02.12); later Bishop of Valença (Brazil) (2014.02.12 – ...)
  • Carlos Lema Garcia (2014.04.30 – ...), as Auxiliary Bishop of São Paulo (Brazil)

See also


  1. ^ Ley 19/2011, de 5 de julio, por la que pasan a denominarse oficialmente "Araba/Álava", "Gipuzkoa" y "Bizkaia" las demarcaciones provinciales llamadas anteriormente "Álava", "Guipúzcoa" y "Vizcaya"
  2. ^ Ley 1/1980 de Sede de las Instituciones de la Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco
  3. ^ a b "Su población". Diputación Foral de Álava. Retrieved 2010-05-09. Text in Spanish
  4. ^ a b España Sagrada, tomo XXXIII, Madrid 1781, pp. 223–271
  5. ^ a b http://www.gcatholic.org/dioceses/former/t0085.htm
  6. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 828

Sources and external lists

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


Agurain in Basque and Salvatierra in Spanish (officially Agurain/Salvatierra), it is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava in the Basque Autonomous Community, northern Spain. The municipality, numbering 4,986 inhabitants (2015), is in turn the head town of the district or Cuadrilla of Salvatierra. The gross income per family amounts to 6,784 € (1997, Basque Autonomous Community: 8,258 €). With reference to workforce by economic sectors, 10.36% are employed in agriculture, 35.78% in the industry sector, 47.92% in the service sector and 5.95% in the construction industry (data not available for the municipality, applies to the larger Salvatierra District).The council is headed by Mr Iñaki Beraza, member of the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV)


Alegría-Dulantzi (Spanish: Alegría, Basque: Dulantzi) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain.

The municipality is located some 14 km from the provincial capital, Vitoria. It has an area of 19.95 km², and a population (2004) of some 1,919 inhabitants.

Alegría-Dulantzi municipality is divided into two sub-areas, or communes (concejos or kontzejuak). By far the larger of the two is the municipal centre and township of Alegría-Dulantzi itself, which accounts for some 95% of the municipality's population. The municipality also controls a small exclave located to the southeast, called Egileta, which is surrounded by a neighbouring municipality.

The Battle of Alegría de Álava took place here in 1834.


Aramaio (Spanish: Aramayona) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain.

Basque Country (autonomous community)

The Basque Country (; Basque: Euskadi [eus̺kadi]; Spanish: País Vasco [paˈiz ˈβasko]; French: Pays Basque), officially the Basque Autonomous Community (Basque: Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa, EAE; Spanish: Comunidad Autónoma Vasca, CAV) is an autonomous community in northern Spain. It includes the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay, 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.

Currently 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, and the residence of the President of the Basque Autonomous Community (the Palace of Ajuria Enea). 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 (107 sq mi), 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 also refer to the larger cultural region (Basque: Euskal Herria), the home of the Basque people, which includes the autonomous community.


Kripan (Spanish: Cripán) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain


Lantarón (Basque: Lantaron) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain.


Laudio/Llodio is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. Laudio is the name in Basque language and Llodio in Spanish; both are used indistinctly.


Legutio (also known as Legutiano; Villarreal de Álava in Spanish) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain.

List of municipalities in Álava

Álava-Araba is a province in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, Spain. It is divided into 51 municipalities. According to the 2011 Spanish Census, the province is the 41st largest by population with 320,788 inhabitants but is the 48th largest by land area spanning 2,963 square kilometres (1,144 sq mi).Each municipality forms part of a province which in turn forms part or the whole of an autonomous community. The organisation of the municipalities is governed by a 2 April 1985 law, completed by the 18 April 1986 royal decree. The Statutes of Autonomy of the various autonomous communities also contain provisions concerning the relations between the municipalities and the autonomous governments. In general, municipalities enjoy a large degree of autonomy in their local affairs: many of the functions of the comarcas and provinces are municipal powers pooled together. Each municipality is a corporation with independent legal personality: its governing body is called the ayuntamiento (municipal council or corporation), a term often also used to refer to the municipal offices (city and town halls). The ayuntamiento is composed of the mayor (Spanish: alcalde), the deputy mayors (Spanish: tenientes de alcalde) and the plenary assembly (pleno) of councillors (concejales). The mayor and the deputy mayors are elected by the plenary assembly, which is itself elected by universal suffrage on a list system every four years. The plenary assembly must meet publicly at least every three months at the seat of the ayuntamiento. Many ayuntamientos also have a governing commission (comisión de gobierno), named by the mayor from among the councillors; it is required for municipalities of more than 5,000 inhabitants. The governing commission, whose role is to assist the mayor between meetings of the plenary assembly, may not include more than one third of the councillors.

Mendizorrotza Stadium

Mendizorrotza or Mendizorroza is a football stadium in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The stadium is the home ground of Deportivo Alavés.

Miguel Ricardo de Álava

Miguel Ricardo de Álava y Esquivel KCB, OCIII, OSH, KOS, MWO (7 July 1770 – 14 July 1843) was a Spanish General and statesman who served as Prime Minister of Spain in 1835. He was born in the Basque Country, at Vitoria-Gasteiz, in 1770. Álava holds the distinction of having been present at Trafalgar, and Waterloo, fighting against the British at the former and with them at the latter.Alava served as a naval aide-de-camp during the time of Spain's alliance with France but switched sides in 1808 when Napoleon invaded Spain. The Spanish Cortes appointed him commissary (military attaché) at the British Army Headquarters, and the Duke of Wellington, who regarded him with great favour, made him one of his aides de camp. Before the close of the campaign he had risen to the rank of brigadier-general. Later he joined the headquarters of the British Peninsular Army as a military attaché and became a close friend of the Duke of Wellington. During the Waterloo Campaign in 1815, Alava was the Spanish ambassador to The Hague at the court of King William I of the Netherlands, which allowed him to attend the Duchess of Richmond's ball and to be at Wellington's side during the Battle of Waterloo.

Ribera Alta/Erriberagoitia

Ribera Alta/Erriberagoitia (Spanish: Ribera Alta, Basque: Erriberagoitia) is a village located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country of northern Spain.

Ribera Baja/Erribera Beitia

Ribera Baja (Basque Erribera Beitia) is a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. The coordinates given point to a location 37 km NW of Granada, not to the Basque country.

Saski Baskonia

Club Deportivo Saski-Baskonia, S.A.D., commonly known as Saski Baskonia (pronounced [s̺as̺ki bas̺konia]) and as Kirolbet Baskonia for sponsorship reasons, is a professional basketball team that is based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The team plays in the Liga ACB and the EuroLeague.

Historically, Baskonia has been a successful team in Spain, winning three ACB championships, six Spanish Cups and four Spanish Supercups. On the European level, Baskonia is one of the most important teams as it is present in the EuroLeague since 2000–01 season. Baskonia has been runners-up of the EuroLeague twice, in 2001 and 2005.

Txakoli de Álava

Txakoli de Álava (Basque) or Chacolí de Álava (Spanish) is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) (Basque: Jatorrizko Deitura) for wines, located around the towns of Amurrio, Llodio, Artziniega, Okondo and Aiara in the province of Álava, Basque Country, Spain.

Txacolí is a thin white acidic wine that can be naturally fizzy and is traditionally served like cider, poured from a height into the glass.

Villabuena de Álava/Eskuernaga

Villabuena de Álava (Basque: Eskuernaga) is a municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country (Basque Autonomous Community) of northern Spain. It is famous for its production of top quality wines. The village has 48 wineries ranging from small family-owned businesses to larger bulk-production wineries. The centre of the village contains one of the oldest and most decorated churches in the Basque region, the Church of Santa María de Villanueva. Nearby is Hotel Viura, a boutique hotel.


Vitoria-Gasteiz (; Spanish: [biˈtoɾja]; Basque: [ɡas̺teis̻]) is the seat of government and the capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community and of the province of Araba/Álava in northern Spain. It holds the autonomous community's House of Parliament, the headquarters of the Government, and the Lehendakari's (Prime Minister's) official residency. The municipality — which comprises not only the city but also the mainly agricultural lands of 63 villages around — is the largest in the Basque Autonomous Community, with a total area of 276.81 km2 (106.88 sq mi), and it has a population of 242,082 people (2014). The dwellers of Vitoria-Gasteiz are called vitorianos or gasteiztarrak, while traditionally they are dubbed babazorros (Basque for 'bean sacks').

Vitoria-Gasteiz is a multicultural city with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, healthcare, architectural conservation, aeronautics, vehicle industry, oenology and gastronomy. It is the first Spanish municipality to be awarded the title of European Green Capital (in 2012) and it is consistently ranked as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain. The old town holds some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas in the region and it is one of very few cities to hold two Cathedrals. The city also holds well known festivals such as the Azkena rock festival, FesTVal, Vitoria-Gasteiz jazz festival, and the Virgen Blanca Festivities.

Vitoria-Gasteiz's vicinity is home to world-renowned wineries such as Ysios (by Santiago Calatrava) and the Marqués de Riscal Hotel (by Frank Gehry); relevant heritage sites including the Neolithic remains of Aizkomendi, Sorginetxe and La chabola de la Hechicera; Iron Age remains such as the settlements of Lastra and Buradón; antique remains such as the settlement of La Hoya and the salt valley of Añana; and countless medieval fortresses such as the Tower of Mendoza and the Tower of Varona.

Beethoven dedicated his Opus 91, often called the "Battle of Vitoria" or "Wellington's Victory", to one of the most famous events of the Napoleonic Wars: the Battle of Vitoria, in which a Spanish, Portuguese and British army under the command of General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army and nearly captured the puppet king Joseph Bonaparte. It was a pivotal point in the Peninsular War, and a precursor to the expulsion of the French from Spain. A memorial statue can be seen today in Virgen Blanca Square.

Álava (Congress of Deputies constituency)

Álava (Basque: Araba) is one of the 52 constituencies (Spanish: circunscripciones) represented in the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales. The constituency currently elects four deputies. Its boundaries correspond to those of the Spanish province of Álava. The electoral system uses the D'Hondt method and a closed-list proportional representation, with a minimum threshold of 3 percent.

Traditional provinces of the Basque Country
Southern Basque Country
French Basque Country

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