San Sebastián is one of the major cities of the Basque Country in northern Spain. Located just 20km from the French border, it is an Atlantic coastal city of 183,000 inhabitants, with a total of 432,000 people in the metropolitan area. The city has a rich architectural heritage, along with highly contemporary buildings. A flashpoint of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the city suffered during and after the hostilities.
Today, commerce and tourism are the most important economic activities, supported by a first-class cultural agenda. Famous for its film festival, the event is only of several types of festival—between traditional, theatrical and musical—held in San Sebastián over the course of a year. In recognition of this level of activity, the city will be a European Capital of Culture in 2016. With its two beaches and Santa Clara Island nestling in the centre of the bay, San Sebastián is a picture postcard of the ideal summer tourist resort—a role it has played since the 19th century.
That popularity is shared by the business and administrative community, who have made San Sebastián a key destination for conferences and congresses. The local reputation for gastronomy is a further bonus for visitors, while its pedestrian areas, cycle lanes and contained layout make it easy to get around. At the same time, the area is also looking to build a base in the technology industries and R&D, and has created two science/business parks. Though affected by the 2008 crisis, the Basque region has weathered the recession better than many other areas of Spain with an unemployment rate in 2013 of 14%.