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Barakaldo

Barakaldo is a Spanish town in the Basque Country, on the river Nervión estuary, close to where it joins the Bay of Biscay. With a population of just over 100,000, it is effectively a suburb of the city of Bilbao, which is only 8km away. There are good transport connections to Bilbao by metro and rail, and to the city’s airport. Barakaldo is the second largest municipality in Greater Bilbao, which has almost 900,000 residents.

Barakaldo is a Spanish town in the Basque Country, on the river Nervión estuary, close to where it joins the Bay of Biscay. With a population of just over 100,000, it is effectively a suburb of the city of Bilbao, which is only 8km away. There are good transport connections to Bilbao by metro and rail, and to the city’s airport. Barakaldo is the second largest municipality in Greater Bilbao, which has almost 900,000 residents.

From the 19th century, Barakaldo was famous for its steel mills, manufacture of shipbuilding equipment and its industrial river port. As the terminus of a mining railway, it served the region’s iron mining industry. But the economic crisis in the 80s caused most of this industry to close. The effect on the town was calamitous. The closures brought dramatic change to the character of ‘old Barakaldo’ causing a major social crisis. Unemployment rose and the population aged, as young people left to look for work elsewhere. The town suffered the effects of industrial abandonment, polluted ground, declining neighbourhoods and substandard housing.

Since 1999 the City of Barakaldo has been trying to improve the environment and support economic recovery through a General Urban Plan. Over the past decade, the town has experienced a period of structural change in the productive sector, turning from an industrial economy to tertiary-oriented businesses. Former industrial sites are being redeveloped for housing and retail. A large exhibition centre was opened in 2004 on the outskirts at Ansio.

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