Bilbao was appointed a "City of Design" by UNESCO in 2014 and has been part of the Creative Cities Network since then.
The Bilbao metropolitan area comprises about 47% of the total population of the Basque autonomous community, out of which a 15% is registered in the municipality of Bilbao. The comarca of Greater Bilbao, in which the city occupies a central position, has a GDP per capita of €30,860, higher than the Spanish and European Union averages. The Bilbao metropolitan area has a nominal GDP amounting to $36,9 billion. Bilbao has been the economic centre of the Basque autonomous community since the original establishment of the Consulate of the Sea in the city in the 16th century, mostly thanks to the commerce in Castilian products on the town's port. It was in the 19th century when the city experimented its biggest economic development, mainly based on the exploitation of the nearby iron mines and siderurgy, both of which promoted maritime traffic and port activity and eventually the development of a very important shipbuilding industry.
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