Introduction of Bilbao
Port on the N coast of Spain, on the Bay of Biscay, approximately 85 mi W of the French border. It straddles the Nervion River, and its location on a major river and the ocean made it an early trading center and , in later centuries, a railroad terminus. It was founded c. 1300 on the site of an ancient settlement, and it assumed great importance in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was occupied by the French in 1795 and again in the Peninsular War of 1808 to 1813. In 1835 and again in 1874 it was besieged ineffectively by the Carlists. During the Spanish civil war of 1936–39 it was the capital of a short-lived autonomous Basque government from 1936 until its capture by Franco’s insurgents in 1937.