It is nowadays accepted in linguistics (Koldo Mitxelena, etc.) that Bizkaia, the original Basque term, is a cognate of bizkar (cf. Biscarrosse in Aquitaine), with both place-name variants well attested in the whole Basque Country and out[1] meaning 'low ridge' or 'prominence' (Iheldo bizchaya attested in 1141 for the hill Igeldo in Donostia).[2]


Of the 1,133,444 people who live in Biscay, about 35% live in the capital, Bilbao and 88% in its metropolitan area. Population density is 512.34 /km². Gernika, a town regarded as the spiritual centre of the traditional Basque Country, is located in Biscay.

Other important towns include Barakaldo, Getxo, Portugalete, Durango, Basauri, Galdakao and Balmaseda. This province has 111 municipalities. See List of municipalities in Biscay.

Biscayan is a dialect of the Basque language extending over the territory's eastern and central area up to Bilbao, while it may have lost ground to Spanish on most of the westerly strip of Encartaciones centuries ago.


Biscay is bordered by the provinces of Cantabria and Burgos to the west, Gipuzkoa to the east, and Álava to the south, and by the Cantabrian Sea (Bay of Biscay) to the north. Orduña (Urduña) is a Biscayan exclave located between Alava and Burgos provinces.