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Press release 17/10/2019


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The population of the Basque Country reached its historic high on 1 January 2019, with 2,188,017 people

Over the last twenty years the population has increased in all three provinces although to a greater extent in Álava and Gipuzkoa

The population of the Basque Country stood at 2,188,017 people on 1 January 2019, reaching a new historic high and surpassing the figures for 2012, the year of the last population peak, according to Eustat data. The Basque population increased by 7,568 people compared to 2018, maintaining the upward trend of the previous year.

The population in the three provinces increased between 2018 and 2019. Gipuzkoa had the highest population gain, with 2,928 more inhabitants, continuing the population growth that began almost two decades ago, with an increase of 44,427 inhabitants over the last twenty years. It was followed by Álava, whose population stood at 327,967 inhabitants, 2,499 more people than the previous year, and 44,479 people more than in 1999, a similar gain to that of Gipuzkoa. Bizkaia, with 1,142,853 inhabitants, was the province with the lowest population growth, both in reference to 2018 (+2,191 inhabitants) and to the last decades, with a registered increase of 15,856 inhabitants.

All three Basque capitals saw an increase in their populations between 2018 and 2019, with Vitoria-Gasteiz experiencing the greatest increase, of 2,334 more people; San Sebastián and Bilbao gained 663 and 620 inhabitants, respectively. Analysis of a longer period of time, however, produced different results. In 2009 the populations of Bilbao and San Sebastián reached their historic highs. However, since then Bilbao has experienced a steady decline in population, with 11,626 fewer inhabitants over the last ten years. The population of San Sebastián has fluctuated, which has resulted in a loss of 922 inhabitants since 2009. The population of Vitoria-Gasteiz, apart from in 2013 and 2014, has only increased, reaching its highest number in 2019, of 246,149, which was 11,408 more inhabitants than in 2009.

The remaining municipalities in the Basque Country did not experience significant population changes between 2018 and 2019. The municipality which saw the greatest increase in its population was Barakaldo, with 442 more inhabitants, an increase of 0.45%. Astigarra was the municipality that had the greatest percentage increase, with 4.36%, which translates into 258 more inhabitants. In contrast, Getxo was the municipality with the greatest absolute decrease in population, of 442 inhabitants, although that only represented -0.57%

Between 2009 and 2019, Basauri, Getxo, Portugalete, Santurtzi and Sestao lost over 1,000 inhabitants each, adding up to a total loss of 10,557 people. All of these are part of Greater Bilbao, which has the highest concentration of municipalities with a higher population density in the Basque Country, all above 5,000 inhabitants per km2, with the highest density occurring in Portugalete, with 14,480 inhabitants per km2 in 2019.

This downward trend was repeated in Greater Bilbao as a whole, which has lost 17,324 inhabitants in the last 10 years; in contrast, Llanada Alavesa saw an increase in its population of 13,057 over the same period.


In 33 municipalities in the Basque Country, people aged 65 or more accounted for over a quarter of the total population

In 2019, the proportion of the population of the Basque Country who were 65 or older (22.2%) was greater than in Spain (19.4%), although there were other Autonomous Regions such as Principado de Asturias, Castilla y León and Galicia that had higher proportions, with percentages above 25%. Compared to Europe, only Italy has higher figures than the Basque Country, although only by four tenths. If we take gender into account, the proportion of women who are 65 or over was 24.9% compared to 19.5% of men.

85 municipalities exceeded the average percentage of the Basque Country, whilst 166 presented the same or a lower percentage; including Bilbao, San Sebastián and Barakaldo, which are home to almost 29% of the total population of the Basque Country. In 2009 the percentage of the population aged over 65 did not reach 19% and there were 125 municipalities that had a percentage higher than the average. Between 2009 and 2019, the proportion of people aged over 65 decreased in 56 municipalities, even though they only represented 2.2% of the total population.

There was quite a lot of disparity between the Basque municipalities regarding the age of the resident population and, more specifically, the percentage of people 65 and over, which varied between 10.1% in Irura and 41.6% in Harana/Valle de Arana. In addition to Irura, there were another 4 municipalities that had a percentage under 12%: Astigarraga, Larraul, Iruña de Oca and Altzo, which had a combined population of 12,118 inhabitants. On the other hand, there were two municipalities with a percentage over 35%: Harana/Valle de Arana and Lagrán, which had a combined total of 407 residents.

Regionally, there was a notably high proportion of elderly people in the region of Montaña Alavesa, reaching 26.8% of the total, whilst in the region with the second highest percentage, Markina-Ondarroa, it reached 23.7% and in the region of Plentzia-Mungia, it was down to 17.0%.

If we look at older age groups, people aged 85 and above went from constituting 2.4% of the total population in 2009 to 3.9% of the total population in 2019, although this increase was not evenly distributed between women and men, as it was 1.1 percentage points for men and 1.8 for women. As a result, women who were 85 or over in the Basque Country represented 5.1% of the total, whereas in the case of men, the percentage dropped to 2.5%. This process has been very dramatic for the centenarian population, with a rise in the number of centenarians from 403 in 2009 to 717 ten years later, 85.8% of whom were women.

In the Basque Country, there was a ratio of 1.5 people aged 65 or more to every person under 16, exceeding the ratio for Spain as a whole, which is 1.2, but still far from the ratio in Principado de Asturias, which is 2.2.

The municipalities that exceed this ratio number 77, with extreme cases such as Harana/Valle de Arana, which has a ratio of 7 to 1 and Lagrán with 4 to 1. On the other hand, municipalities such as Irura, Baliarrain, Larraul, Alegría-Dulantzi and Astigarraga, had more than 2 young people up to the age of 15 for each person aged 65 and over.

Population distribution by age is most extreme in the municipalities of Álava where, due above all to its small size and the fact that any demographic phenomena, particularly migration, modifies this distribution.

For further information:

Eustat - Euskal Estatistika Erakundea / Basque Statistics Institute C/ Donostia-San Sebastián, 1 01010 Vitoria-Gasteiz Press Service: servicioprensa@eustat.es Tel: 945 01 75 62  

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The population of the Basque Country reached its historic high on 1 January 2019, with 2,188,017 people

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