Sound local governance coupled with a powerful manufacturing sector has made this mountainous province a European star. Home to the vibrant Basque capital of Vitoria and boasting attractions from wineries to adventure sports, Alava is striding confidently into the future.
The largest and least populated of the Basque Country’s autonomous communities, Alava is dotted with vineyards and low-lying valleys fringed by mountain ranges and wooded highlands, featuring ancient trade and pilgrim routes that left an indelible historical mark on the region.
Formerly an agricultural hub, the province has steadily built its industry-driven economy over the past three decades, emerging from under the Franco dictatorship to become one of Spain’s economic bright spots. Industry – iron and steel manufacturing; the production of glass, ceramics, agricultural machinery and cars – clusters around its metropolitan centres. Yet, despite its manufacturing focus, Alava also has a fine trade in tourism, technology and culture.
“We have very high industrialisation rates and an economy that is strongly geared towards exports.”
Javier de Andres President of the provincial council of AlavaTweet This
Brand-name companies maintain a presence in Alava, attracted by its skilled workers; Mercedes Benz maintains an assembly plant there where it most recently began production of its Vito series of motor vehicles, with a reported investment of €190 million. The Rioja Alavesa wine region is world-renowned, and cuisine in the province, like that across the rest of the Basque Country, is top-notch. Tourists flock to Alava’s pristine landscapes and nature reserves, and it is fast emerging as a strong adventure sport location.
Alava is also home to the Basque Country’s capital city, Vitoria, a place of charm and natural beauty. Since 1977 it has hosted an international jazz festival showcasing the talents of a range of internationally respected musicians: Muddy Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz, Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin, and the Buena Vista Social Club Orchestra. With its refined restaurants and grills, natural parks, museums and picturesque cathedrals, Vitoria – made up of three concentric circles – is quickly diversifying its economy, winning widespread international acclaim for its official pro-environment policies and concerted push towards creating a sustainable urban location: its citizens all live within 300 metres of an accessible green space.