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spain the ten largest cities are Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Malaga, Murcia, Palma, Las Palmas and Bilbao. Here we profile each of them and examine the areas in which they excel.


Population: 3.14 million (metropolitan population: 6.16 million)

Madrid is the capital of Spain and its economic and political center. It is a major European financial centre, although the service sector tends to dominate its economy. Madrid became a 20th century manufacturing powerhouse for products as diverse as automobiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and leather goods. In the 21st century, this has given way to more technical niches, backed by 17 universities and more than 30 research centers. Madrid is also an important hub in Spain when it comes to infrastructure and construction, and as befits a large capital with a sunny climate, tourism is a major contributor to its economy, with many travelers coming to see Real Madrid play. to soccer in Santiago. Bernabeu Stadium. Companies headquartered in Madrid include Bankia, Iberia Airlines, Logista, Telefónica and Mahou-San Miguel Group.

2. Barcelona

Population: 1.6 million (metropolitan population: 5.18 million)

Based in the Catalonia region, Barcelona’s status as a world-renowned center for tourism and football remains intact. However, the city is also a hub for finance and biotechnology, with a strong start-up scene. The manufacturing industry is also important to Barcelona’s economy, with the energy, chemical and metallurgy industries being the most important. It is also important for the automotive industry and houses Seat’s headquarters. Fashion and textiles are also areas in which Barcelona thrive. The Catalan capital is also one of the most important cultural centers in Europe and includes eight Unesco World Heritage sites.

3. Valencia

Population: 790,000 (metropolitan population: 1.65 million)

Valencia is located on the east coast of Spain. It is home to the busiest port in the entire Mediterranean region and the fifth in Europe. In 2018, its annual container volume was 5.2 million TEUs. Away from the port, Valencia’s economy is driven by tourism and construction, although telecommunications and transport are also important in the city. The service sector is a major employer in Valencia.

4. Seville

Population: 690,000 (metropolitan population: 1.31 million)

Seville is located in southern Spain, approximately 340 km from the border with Portugal. It is an extremely popular destination for tourists and home to three Unesco World Heritage Sites. Seville has undergone huge infrastructure improvements over the past 30 years and has also become a center for research and development in Spain. It is also renowned for its role in the renewable energy industry.

5. Zaragoza

Population: 660,000 (metropolitan population: 686,000)

Zaragoza is located in the northeast of Spain, just over 100 km from the French border. The transport and automotive sectors are key to Zaragoza’s economy, with Opel operating a factory near the city, CAF building railway rolling stock there and housing the Spanish Air Force. Zaragoza Airport also acts as an important cargo hub. The city hosted Expo 2008, where sustainability was a key theme.

6. Malaga

Population: 570,000 (metropolitan population: 1.22 million)

Malaga, located on the southern coast of Spain, has earned a reputation as an upscale tourist destination. However, the city also has strengths in construction and technology services, transportation and logistics. It is considered a technological hub in Spain, houses the headquarters of the Spanish bank Unicaja and is also full of manufacturing activities.

7. Murcia

Population: 440,000 (metropolitan population: 623,000)

Murcia is on the southeast coast of Spain and, like most Spanish coastal towns, is dependent on tourism. However, the city is also a major hub for agriculture in Spain, both in terms of crops and fishing. Beyond these areas, Murcia has a very active tertiary sector, while it is also highly appreciated in Spain for the quality of its museums and theatres.

8. Palma (Majorca)

Population: 400,000 (metropolitan population: 593,000)

Palma is the largest city on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Its economy is heavily dependent on tourism, with up to 80% of the city’s population working in industry dependent jobs. Beyond tourism, Palma is an important place for agriculture, cultivation and export of almonds, oranges, lemons and olives. It also has deposits of copper, lead and marble.

9. Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)

Population: 380,000 (metropolitan population: 640,000)

Las Palmas is the largest city in the Canary Islands, located on the north coast of Gran Canaria. It is located about 150 km from the northeast coast of Africa. As with Palma, tourism is by far the most important industry for the city’s economy, although its seaport is a very active import/export centre. Fishing is also a key industry in Las Palmas.


Population: 350,000 (metropolitan population: 990,000)

Bilbao is the largest city in the Spanish Basque Country. It is located on the north coast of the country, less than 100 km from the French border. The city has won numerous prizes and distinctions for its quality of life in recent years, and its cultural offer is renowned throughout Europe. As a result, tourism is a huge contributor to Bilbao’s GDP, but an active port, strong financial supply (Bilbao is home to multinational bank BBVA) and mining and steel industries give it a very diversified economy.

City population figures based on 2015 Statista figures. Metropolitan figures are from ESPON, 2007.