Biscay has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic, as attested by the archaeological remains and cave paintings found in its many caves. The Roman presence had little impact in the region, and the Basque language and traditions have survived to this day.
Biscay was identified in records of the Middle Ages, as a dependency of the kingdom of Pampelune (XI cent.) that became autonomous and finally a part of the Crown of Castile. The first mention of the name Biscay was recorded in a donation act to the monastery of Bickaga, located on the ria of Mundaka. According to Anton Erkoreka, the Vikings had a commercial base there from which they were expelled by 825. The ria of Mundaka is the easiest route to the river Ebro and at the end of it, the Mediterranean Sea and trade.
In the modern age, the province became a major commercial and industrial area. Its prime harbour of Bilbao soon became the main Castilian gateway to Europe. Later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the abundance of prime quality iron ore and the lack of feudal castes favored rapid industrialization.
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