City and economy - The city

The city

Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital city of the Basque Country and of Alava territory.

It is a compact medium-size city of 250,000 inhabitants, located in an area of great biological and landscape richness which provides it with a high quality of life. It counts on a large offer of residential, commercial, educational, health, cultural, and sports facilities The town itself and its surroundings have many areas of natural, historical and recreational interest.

Quality of Life

The Basque Country ranks first (out of the seventeen Spanish Regions) in the Human Development Index (0.916 in 2015, similar to the Netherlands, fourth in the world in HDI) and its three territories (Vizcaya, Álava and Guipúzcoa) occupy the top three out of the 52 Spanish provinces (1)

Life expectancy is among the highest in the EU and in the world, something which is linked to the high quality of life and to the economic, social and health resources.

The high quality of the urban space and the natural environment in which it is located, as well as the implication of citizens, companies and institutions in its care and improvement have become one of the landmarks of the city, which has made it deserve, among others, the European Green Capital award (2012). This becomes an opportunity for companies with a vocation of economic and environmental excellence.

Main events in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Prestigious cultural, sports or gastronomic events which take place in Vitoria-Gasteiz throughout the year have been consolidated over the years as a benchmark in their category.

Excellence in Economy

Alava's economy ranks first (out of the 52 provinces in Spain) in terms of GDP per capita (exceeds 135% of the EU average). This ranking position has been maintained for more than ten years. In 2008 this figure amounted to 35,000 euros, almost one and a half the Spanish average.

Features of the economic structure

Some of the features that explain this advantageous position in the overall results are:

Characteristics of the Economic Structure
Index Value
High productivity The output per person employed in the Basque Country is 121% of the EU average (2019). (2).
Low energy intensity 86.6 against 119,5 in the EU (2019), despite its strong industrial component. (3)
Highly qualified human resourcesl 50.4% of the population aged 25 to 34 has a university degree, compared to the 39.2% in the EU. (4)
R & D investment 1.85% of the GDP (2018), higher than the Spanish (1.24%) average. (5)
High employment rate around 67% of the population aged 15 to 64, very similar to the average figure for the EU (2017). (6)
Exports Volume over 32% of the GDP (2017). (7)

Economic activity

The economy in Alava has a strong industrial component (more than 25% of its GDP and employment) and a strong development of advanced services which count on an excellent standard and diversity. Taking into account tradition and development in recent years, it is also worth highlighting the importance of services related to the quality of life such as health, education, culture, sports, entertainment, retail, gastronomy and tourism.

The most important industrial activities are

  • metal-working industry
  • automotion
  • rubber and plastic
  • mechanical engineering, aeronautics
  • manufacture of railway equipment
  • food industry

Leader companies such as Mercedes Benz or Michelin have chosen our city to settle down, complementing and stimulating thus, a rich and vibrant local business community.

See the most relevant companies in Alava

More information

The Studies Office Unit provides useful documentation to better understand the reality and evolution of our city:: Estudios y estadísticas


(1) Bancaja and Ivie Foundation - Economic-Research Institute of Valencia - Human Development in Spain 1980-2011(Opens in new window) (2013)

(2) Productividad laboral por persona empleada, país y año (20182019)(Opens in new window). Eustat.

(3) Intensidad energética por países. 20102019(Opens in new window). Eustat.

(4) Indicadores de recursos humanos de la Unión Europea y C.A. de Euskadi, por países. 2020(Opens in new window). Eustat.

(5) Gasto en I+D interna (% PIB) por país. 20072019(Opens in new window). Eustat.

(6) Informe "Economía y Mercado de Trabajo (Vitoria-Gasteiz 2017)"

(7) Eustat.

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