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Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
—  Autonomous region of Italy  —


Coat of arms
Country Italy
Capital Trento
 - President Luis Durnwalder (South Tyrolean People's Party)
 - Total 13,607 km2 (5,253.7 sq mi)
Population (2008-10-31)
 - Total 1,017,246
 - Density 74.8/km2 (193.6/sq mi)
 - Official languages[1] Italian, German
Citizenship [2]
 - Italian 93%
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
GDP/ Nominal € 30.8 billion (2006)
GDP per capita € 31,152 (2006)

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol[3] (Italian: Trentino-Alto Adige, pronounced [trenˈti(ː)noˈaltoˈa(ː)didʒe]; German: Trentino-Südtirol;[4]; Ladin: Trentin-Adesc Aut[5] or Trentin-Südtirol[6], is an autonomous region in Northern Italy. It consists of two provinces: Trento and Bolzano-Bozen. The region was part of Austria-Hungary (and its predecessor, the Austrian Empire) from 1389 until its annexation by Italy in 1919. Together with the Austrian state of Tyrol it is represented by the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino.

In English, the region is also known as Trentino-South Tyrol[7] or by its Italian name Trentino-Alto Adige.[8]



Alpine landscape near the village of Stilfs.

The region is bordered by Tyrol (Austria) to the north, by Graubünden (Switzerland) to the north-west and by the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto to the west and south, respectively. It covers 13,607 km² (5,253 sq mi). It is extremely mountainous, covering a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps.

The Autonomous Province of Bolzano has an area of 7,400 km2, all of it mountainous land and covered by vast forests. In Italy, the province borders on Lombardy in the west, Trento in the south and Veneto in the east. The climate is of the continental type, owing to the influence of the many mountain ranges which stand at well over 3,000 metres above sea-level and the wide valleys through which flow the main river, the Adige, from north to south and its numerous tributaries. In the city of Bolzano, capital of the province, the average air temperature stands at 12.2 °C and the average rainfall at 717.7 mm. The lowest pass across the Alps, the Brenner Pass, is located at the far north of the region on the border with Austria.[9]

The Autonomous Province of Trento has an area of 6,207 km2, most of it mountainous land (20% is over 2,000 m and 70% over 1,000 m) and covered by vast forests (50% of the territory). The climate is various through the province, from an alpine climate to subcontinental one, with warm and variable summers and cold and quite snowy winters. The region has always been a favourite destination for tourists, both in winter for skiing in the high mountains and in summer to visit the wide valleys and many lakes (the largest being Lake Garda) can be found.[10]


Trento, the belfry.

The region of current Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC. After the end of the Western Roman Empire, it was divided between the invading German tribes in the Lombard Duchy of Tridentum (today's Province of Trento), the Alamannic Vinschgau and the Bavarians taking the remaining part. After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy under Charlemagne, the Marquisate of Verona included the areas south of Bolzano, while the Duchy of Bavaria received the remaining part.[11]

From the 11th century onwards, part of the region was governed by the prince-bishops of Trento and Brixen, to whom the Holy Roman Emperors had given extensive temporal powers over their bishoprics. The rest was part of the County of Tyrol and County of Görz, which controlled the Pustertal: in 1363 its last titular, Margarete, Countess of Tyrol ceded it to the House of Habsburg. The regions north of Salorno were largely Germanized in the early Middle Ages, and important German poets like Oswald von Wolkenstein were born and lived in the southern part of Tyrol.[12]

The two Bishoprics were secularized by the Treaty of Luneville of 1803 and given to the Habsburgs. Two years later, following the Austrian defeat at Austerlitz, the region was given to Napoleon's ally Bavaria (Treaty of Pressburg, 1805). The new rulers provoked a peasant rebellion, led by Andreas Hofer a landlord from St. Leonhard in Passeier, in 1809 which was crushed the same year; the Treaty of Paris of February 1810 split the area between Austria and the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. After Napoleon's defeat, in 1815, the region returned to Austria. During French control of the region, it was called officially Haut Adige (literally "High Adige", Italian: "Alto Adige"; German: "Hoch Etsch") in order to avoid any reference to the historical County of Tyrol.[13]

During the First World War, major battles were fought high in the Alps and Dolomites between Austro-Hungarian and Italian Alpini, for whom control of the region was a key strategic objective. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian war effort enabled Italian troops to occupy the region in 1918 and its annexation was confirmed in the post-war treaties, which awarded the region to Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain.

A view of Bolzano-Bozen with the Cathedral on the right.

Under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy (ruled 1922-1943), Alto Adige/Südtirol was subjected to an increased programme of Italianization: all references to old Tyrol were banned and the region was referred to as Venezia Tridentina between 1919 and 1947, in an attempt to justify the Italian claims to the area by historically linking the region to one of the Roman Regions of Italy (Regio X Venetia et Histria). Hitler and Mussolini agreed in 1938 that the German-speaking population would be transferred to German-ruled territory or dispersed around Italy, but the outbreak of the Second World War prevented them from fully carrying out the relocation. Nevertheless thousands of people were relocated to the Third Reich and only with great difficulties managed to return to their ancestral land after the end of the war.

In 1943, when the Italian government signed an armistice with the Allies, the region was occupied by Germany, which reorganised it as the Operation Zone of the Alpine Foothills and put it under the administration of Gauleiter Franz Hofer. The region was de facto annexed to the German Reich (with the addition of the province of Belluno) until the end of the war. This status ended along with the Nazi regime and Italian rule was restored in 1945.

Italy and Austria negotiated an agreement in 1946, put into effect in 1947 when a new Italian constitution was promulgated, that the region would be granted considerable autonomy. German and Italian were both made official languages, and German-language education was permitted once more. The region was called Trentino-Alto Adige/Tiroler Etschland between 1947 and 1972.

However, the implementation of the agreement was not seen as satisfactory by either the German-speaking population or the Austrian government. The issue became the cause of significant friction between the two countries and was taken up by the United Nations in 1960. A fresh round of negotiations took place in 1961 but proved unsuccessful, partly because of a campaign of terrorism by German-speaking separatists.

The issue was resolved in 1971, when a new Austro-Italian treaty was signed and ratified. It stipulated that disputes in the province of Bolzano-Bozen would be submitted for settlement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, that the province would receive greater autonomy within Italy, and that Austria would not interfere in Bolzano-Bozen's internal affairs. The new agreement proved broadly satisfactory to the parties involved and the separatist tensions soon eased. Matters were helped further by Austria's accession to the European Union in 1995, which has helped to improve cross-border cooperation.[13]


The fertile valleys of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol produce wine, fruit, dairy products and timber, while its industries include paper, chemical and metal production. The region is a major exporter of hydroelectric power. The most important features of the region's economic structure are the strength of tourism and the special system of co-operation between agriculture and industry. In the last decade, tourism became a very important component of the province's economy. Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, which is a staging-post between the countries of northern Europe and central and southern Italy, has found its true vocation in this leading branch of the services sector with all its spin-offs. The region has a higher concentration of hotels than any other region (6,178 establishments in 2001 with 236,864 hotel beds). The total accommodation capacity of the region counts for 651,426 beds available in hotels and other establishments.[14]


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1921 661,000
1931 666,000 0.8%
1936 669,000 0.5%
1951 729,000 9.0%
1961 786,000 7.8%
1971 842,000 7.1%
1981 873,000 3.7%
1991 890,000 1.9%
2001 940,000 5.6%
2008 (Est.) 1,017,000 8.2%
Source: ISTAT 2001

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol has a population of about 1,017,000 people (498,000 in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen and 519,000 in the Province of Trento). The population density in the region is low compared to Italy as a whole. In 2008, it equalled to 74.7 inhabitants per km2, whereas the average figure for Italy was 198.8. The population density in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen was 67.3, slightly lower than the one registered in the Province of Trento that was equal to 83.6. As of 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics ISTAT estimated that 70,834 foreign-born immigrants live in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, equal to 6.9% of the total regional population.



The main language groups are Italian (about 60% of the total) and German speakers (a little under 35%), with a small minority speaking Ladin (5%).

In the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-Bozen, the majority language is German (69% of the population), although in the capital city Bolzano-Bozen 73% of the population speaks Italian as its maternal language.[15] Ladin is the additional official language in some municipalities. According to the census of 2001, 103 out of 116 communes have a majority of German native speakers, 8 of Ladin speakers and 5 of Italian. Today both Italian and German have the status of co-official languages in the province of Bolzano-Bozen.

In the Autonomous Province of Trento the majority language is Italian, although there are minorities of German speakers in the municipality of Luserna and four municipalities in the Mocheni Valley. There are also Ladin-speaking minorities living in the Fassa Valley. Unlike in Alto Adige/Südtirol, the protection of minority language groups in Trentino is not covered by the new Statuto d'Autonomia (Autonomy Statute), although it is under current provincial statutes.

Government and politics

The regional capital is Trento and the region is divided into two autonomous provinces: Province of Trento (or Trentino), and Province of Bolzano-Bozen (or Alto Adige/Südtirol). For both provinces Bolzano and Trento, the Italian State recognised a particular autonomy, which is the result of the Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement, as well as of the special Status of autonomy approved by the constitutional law in 1948. This Status gave the Region of Trentino Alto Adige the right of elaborating its own laws in a wide number of domains and to carry out relative administrative functions. In 1972, the introduction of the second Status of autonomy, which was in the centre of the discussions between the governments of Rome and Vienna, meant the transfer of the main competences from the Region to the two provinces of Bolzano and Trento. The autonomy recognized by the special Status comprises autonomy of political address, legislative autonomy, administrative autonomy, and autonomy in financial institution. The provincial capitals alternate biennially as the site of the regional parliament.[9]

Administrative divisions

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol is divided into two autonomous provinces:

Trentino-South Tyrol Provinces.png
Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Bolzano-Bozen 7,400 498,280 67.3
Province of Trento 6,207 518,966 83.6


  1. ^ Sonderstatut für Trentino-Südtirol, Article 99, Title IX. Region Trentino-Südtirol.  
  2. ^ Statistiche demografiche ISTAT
  3. ^ Constitution of Italy, Part II: Organisation of the Republic (Art. 116)
  4. ^ "Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Region". Official website of the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Region. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.  
  5. ^ Meeting of the municipal council of Sankt Ulrich/Ortisei, page 3
  6. ^ PensPlan Project of the Region
  7. ^ "Province of Bolzano/Bozen". Official website of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.  
  8. ^ "Special Statute of the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Region". Official website of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.  
  9. ^ a b "Eurostat". Retrieved 2009-05-06.  
  10. ^ "Eurostat". Retrieved 2009-05-06.  
  11. ^ Allgemeiner historischer Handatlas, Gustav Droysen
  12. ^ Ich Wolkenstein, Dieter Kühn ISBN 3-458-32197-7, page. 21
  13. ^ a b Rolf Steininger, Department of Contemporary History Innsbruck
  14. ^ "Eurostat". Retrieved 2009-05-06.  
  15. ^ 2001 Census of the province of Bolzano

External links

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