The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz was founded in the 12th century, but remained quite small until the 20th century. The city and the province of Araba remained separate from the great industrial growth around them, in Bilbao for example, although this growth caught up with the city later.
Since 1950 the population of the city has more than quadrupled, and it continues to grow at a steady rate. Capital of the Basque province of Alava, the city concentrates more than three quarters of the province's population. Tthe city has a buoyant automotive and aeronautic industry. As of 2005, Alava is the province with the highest per capita income in Spain.
Since 1980, Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of Euskadi, and the Basque Government is established there with many governmental buildings located in the city. It is considered as one of the greenest cities in the Basque Country, with many parks and recreational areas. The usage of the bicycle is widespread and there is a free bicycle lending service. High-rise buildings can be found all over the city, but are concentrated mainly on the east and south of the city; Salburua, Los Astronomos, Pepe Ubis, and Santiago.