Vorarlberg (German pronunciation: [ˈfoːɐ̯ʔaʁlbɛʁk]) is the
westernmost federal state (Bundesland) of Austria. It has the
second-smallest area after Vienna, and although it has the
second-smallest population, it also has the second-highest population
density (also after Vienna). It borders three countries: Germany
Lake Constance), Switzerland
Graubünden and St. Gallen) and Liechtenstein. The only Austrian
state that shares a border with
Vorarlberg is Tyrol to the east.
The capital of
Bregenz (29,500 inhabitants), although
Dornbirn (48,700 inhabitants) and Feldkirch (33,000 inhabitants) have
Vorarlberg is also the only state in
the local dialect is not Austro-Bavarian, but rather an Alemannic
dialect; it therefore has much more in common culturally with its
(historically) Alemannic-speaking German-speaking Switzerland,
Alsace than with southeastern Bavaria, rest
Austria and South Tyrol.
Vorarlberg is almost completely mountainous and has been nicknamed the
‘Ländle’ meaning ‘small land’.
1.1 Administrative divisions
8 External links
The main rivers in
Vorarlberg are the Ill (running through the
Montafon and Walgau valleys into the Rhine), the
Rhine (forming the
border with Switzerland), the
Bregenzer Ache and the Dornbirner Ach.
One of the shortest rivers is the Galina. Important lakes, apart from
Lake Constance are Lüner Lake,
Silvretta Lake, Vermunt Lake, Spuller
Lake, the Kops Basin and Formarin Lake; the first four were created
for the production of hydroelectric energy. However, even before the
dam for the power plant was built, Lüner
Lake was the largest
mountain lake in the Alps. Most of this hydroelectric energy is
Germany at peak times. At night, energy from power plants
Germany is used to pump water back into some of the lakes.
Districts of Vorarlberg. Clockwise from north: Bregenz, Bludenz,
As there are several notable mountain ranges in Vorarlberg, such as
the Silvretta, the Rätikon, the Verwall and the Arlberg, there are
many well-known skiing regions (Arlberg, Montafon, Bregenzerwald) and
ski resorts (Lech, Zürs, Schruns, Warth, Damüls, Brand and many
Lech is an exclusive ski resort on the banks of the river Lech. In
recent years Lech has grown to become one of the world's premier ski
destinations and the home of a number of world and Olympic ski
champions. With some other neighbouring villages Lech created the
largest connected ski area in
Austria and one of the largest in
Europe. Together these villages form the
Arlberg region, the
birthplace of the modern Alpine skiing technique and the seat of the
Ski Club Arlberg. Lech is a popular holiday destination for Royal
families and celebrities, for example Jason Biggs, Tom Cruise, Diana -
Princess of Wales, and the former Queen Beatrix and the Dutch Royal
Damüls is also recognized as the municipality with the most annual
snowfall worldwide: on average 9.30 metres (30.5 ft). The highest
mountain is Piz Buin, whose rocky peak of 3,312 m
(10,866 ft) is surrounded by glaciers.
Vorarlberg is supposed to
enjoy the greatest scenic diversity within limited confines in the
entire Eastern Alps; it adjoins the Western Alps. The distance from
Lake Constance and the plains of the Alpine
Rhine valley across the
medium altitude and high Alpine zones to the glaciers of the Silvretta
range is a mere 90 km (56 mi).
Vorarlberg is divided into four large districts, from north to south:
Bregenz, Dornbirn, Feldkirch and Bludenz. These districts appear on
the automobile license plates in form of abbreviations: B, DO, FK and
For several years, the
Vorarlberg economy has been performing well
above the Austrian average. While the overall Austrian GDP in 2004
rose by 2.0% in real terms,
Vorarlberg recorded an increase of 2.9%.
This came as a surprise, particularly as the major trading partners in
Germany and Italy did not fare well. Owing to this robust economic
Vorarlberg was able to boost its gross regional product
in 2014 to 15.2 billion EUR according to the Economic Policy
Department of the
Vorarlberg Chamber of Trade. This translates into a
nominal increase of 3.4% (cf
Austria as a whole +5.2%). The
regional product per inhabitant in
Vorarlberg is 41,000 EUR, exceeding
the Austrian national average by 8%.
Vorarlberg and especially the
Rhine Valley is one of the wealthiest areas in the world, with a very
high standard of living. By far the biggest company in
Alpla, followed by Blum, Grass, Gebrüder Weiss, Zumtobel Group,
Doppelmayr, Rauch and Wolford
The economic expansion of
Vorarlberg is "very positive and for the
future rated more dynamic than for the other federal states"
Retrieving cattle from high pastures in the Alps is a social highlight
for tourists and residents.
In addition to the flourishing textile, clothing, electronics,
machinery and packing materials industries of the Alpine
there is also a broad agricultural base, especially in the Bregenz
Forest (Bregenzerwald), which is noted for its dairy products
(especially due to the "KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald", an association
of farmers, restaurateurs, craftspeople and traders promoting the
Bregenz Forest agriculture and its local products) and tourism.
Another important economical and cultural factor is the three-level
agricultural structure of the mountain-regions in Vorarlberg. It is
also known as
Alpine transhumance and describes a seasonal droving of
grazing livestock between the valleys in winter and the high mountain
pastures in summer. Many cultural habits like Yodel,
Schwingen were developed during this time. This seasonal nomadism led
to the rich culture, architecture and love for the nature in
Vorarlberg. Moving the cattle to the high pasture and also retrieving
them is always a big social highlight as the animals are richly
decorated with flowers.
The architectural curriculum in
Vorarlberg has a strong reputation all
over Europe. It has made a label for a demanding architecture of a
fruitful confrontation between traditional construction and modern
interpretation with the new
Vorarlberg school "Vorarlberg". The
Vorarlberg school is regarded as one of the most important pioneers of
the New Alpine architecture.
"Bregenzerwälderhaus" in Stübing, Austria, Europe
The independent architecture of the Bregenzerwaldhaus and the
Montafonerhaus are particularly relevant to historical
The tourist industry employs a considerable number of Vorarlbergers.
There are around 12.000 employees working in this industry which
represent approximately 11% of the total workforce (107.575 in
Arrivals are slightly higher in Winter (1.23 Mio in 2015) than in
Summer (1.14 Mio in 2015). The real difference lies in overnight-stays
Vorarlberg is a strong winter destination.
Overnight-stays in Winter reach as high 5.11 Mio which is quite high
when compared to Summer with 3.7 Mio overnight stays.
The greatest tourist attractions are the mountains and the numerous
ski resorts. In the cold season, winter sports enthusiasts will find
ideal conditions for their favourite sport: skiing, cross country
skiing, freeriding, snowboarding, ice skating, sled dog rides,
carriage rides, tobogganing, snow and fun parks. Due to its unique
location in the mountains it is also possible to cross
skis. "Ski Ride Vorarlberg" is a combination of skiing, touring and
freeriding and takes tourists from the
Kleinwalsertal in the north to
Montafon in the south. The tour takes place in a small group and
is accompanied by a guide. The route takes them through open terrain
and on-piste ski areas – whatever is available.
Music Festival in
Bregenz 2012 (André Chénier)
In the summer all mountain sports are in the foreground: hiking,
mountain biking, trail-running, but also resting and boating on Lake
Constance. Above all,
Vorarlberg stands for cultural offers of all
kinds: the Bregenzer Seefestspiele with its own lake-stage are the
best known and for many years a cultural highlight. In addition, there
are many museums and attractions such as the Kunsthaus Bregenz, the
Vorarlberg Museum and the Jewish Museum.
The largest (and best-known) touristic regions are:
Arlberg region (including the high-class ski resorts Lech and
Prominent skiers from these regions include Anita Wachter, Egon
Zimmermann, Gerhard Nenning, Mario Reiter, Hubert Strolz, and Hannes
Schneider, as well as the ski-jumper Toni Innauer.
The population of
Vorarlberg is 388,711 (2017). The majority (86%) of
residents are of Austrian-Germanic stock with a cultural connection
Liechtenstein to the west and
Germany to the
north. A sizable proportion of the population's ancestors came from
the Swiss canton of
Valais in migrations of "Walsers", including the
Swiss French in the 19th century by invitation during the days of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire.. There has been a sizable
minority of Turkish descent since the 1960s.
78% of the population are Roman Catholic, which puts
line with the national Austrian average of 73.6%. The second-largest
denomination, with a share of 8.4%, is Islam. 7,817 (or 2.2%) of
Vorarlberg's inhabitants are Protestants.
Owing to their location isolated from the rest of Austria, most people
Vorarlberg speak a very distinct German dialect that other
Austrians might have difficulty understanding, since the dialects in
the rest of
Austria form part of the Bavarian-Austrian language group,
Vorarlberg dialect is part of the Alemannic dialect
Alemannic dialects are also spoken in Liechtenstein,
Switzerland (as Swiss German), Baden-Württemberg, the south west of
Bavaria and the
Alsace region of France. The
Vorarlberg dialect is
further divided into a number of regional sub-dialects (e.g. that of
the Montafon, the
Bregenz Forest and Lustenau are some of the most
distinct) which tend to differ considerably from each other. In fact
even within these regions the dialects may vary from one town or
village to the next.
"Confederates, help your brothers in peril!" Swiss poster of the Pro
Vorarlberg movement advocating for an accession of Vorarlberg, 1919.
Before the Romans conquered Vorarlberg, there were two Celtic tribes
settled in this area: the Raeti in the highlands, and the Vindelici in
the lowlands, i.e. the
Lake Constance region and the
Rhine Valley. One
of the important settlements of the Vindelici was Brigantion (modern
Bregenz), founded around 500 BC. The first settlements in and
Bregenz date from 1500 BC. A Celtic tribe named "Brigantii" is
mentioned by Strabo as a sub-tribe in these region of the Alps. The
Vorarlberg was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC and it
became part of the
Roman province of Raetia. It was later conquered by
Allemanic tribes in c. 450 AD.
It then fell under the rule of the
Bavarians and was subsequently
settled by the
Bavarians and the Lombards. It later fell under the
rule of the Counts of
Bregenz until 1160 and then to the Counts of
Montfort until 1525, when the
Habsburgs took control.
The historically-Germanic province, which was a gathering-together of
former bishoprics, was still ruled in part by a few semi-autonomous
counts and surviving prince-bishops until the start of World War I.
Vorarlberg was a part of Further Austria, and parts of the area were
ruled by the Counts Montfort of Vorarlberg.
World War I
World War I there was a desire by many in
Vorarlberg to join
Switzerland. In a referendum held in
Vorarlberg on 11 May 1919,
over 80% of those voting supported a proposal for the state to join
the Swiss Confederation. However this was prevented by the opposition
of the Austrian government, the Allies, Swiss liberals, the
Swiss-Italians and the Swiss-French.
Second World War
Second World War
Vorarlberg found itself occupied by
French troops from 1945 to 1955, along with most of the federal state
^ Chamber of Commerce Vorarlberg. "
Vorarlberg in Figures 2016 Edition"
(PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-24.
^ KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald (in German)
^ "Designer Hotels Modern
Austria". Retrieved 2017-02-24.
^ WKO Vorarlberg. "
Vorarlberg in Figures 2016 Edition" (PDF).
^ "Ski Ride Vorarlberg". Retrieved 2017-02-24.
^ a b c The Free Dictionary by Farlex: Vorarlberg
^ Strabo, Geographia Book IV Chap. 6
^ 1982 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, "History of Austria"
^ C2D - Centre d'études et de documentation sur la démocratie
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vorarlberg.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Vorarlberg.
States of Austria
Vienna • Lower
Styria • Upper
Salzburg • Tyrol • Vorarlberg
Districts (Bezirke) of Vorarlberg
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