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Trentino-South Tyrol

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Regione Autonoma Trentino-Alto Adige
Autonome Region Trentino-Südtirol
Region Autonòma Trentino-Südtirol
Trentino-Alto Adige-Bandiera.png
Capital Trento
President Lorenzo Dellai
Provinces 2
Comuni 339
Area 13,606.87 km²
 - Ranked 11th (4.5 %)
Population (2006 est.)
 - Total

 - Ranked
 - Density

16th (1.7 %)
Italy Regions Trentino Map.png
Map highlighting the location of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in Italy

Trentino-South Tyrol (Italian: Trentino-Alto Adige, German and Ladin: Trentino-Südtirol, official: Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) is an autonomous Region in Northern Italy. It consists of two distinct areas, the Italian-speaking Trentino and the largely German-speaking South Tyrol. The region was part of Austria-Hungary (and its predecessor, the Austrian Empire) from 1803 until its annexation by Italy in 1919. It was officially referred to as Venezia Tridentina between 1919 and 1947.

Geography and economy

File:Trentino-Alto Adige-Südtirol provinces.png
Provinces of Trentino-South Tyrol.

The autonomous region is bordered by Austria to the north and by the Italian regions of Lombardy to the west and Veneto to the south. It covers 13,619 km² (5,256 mi²). It is extremely mountainous, covering a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps. The lowest pass across the Alps, the Brenner Pass, is located at the far north of the region on the border with Austria.

The fertile valleys of Trentino-South Tyrol 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. Tourism is an important source of revenue and the region is renowned for its winter skiing opportunities, especially in the Gröden-Val Gardena area.

Trentino-South Tyrol is divided into the provinces of Bolzano and Trento


Trentino-South Tyrol has a population of about 940,000 people (460,000 in Bolzano and 480,000 in Trento provinces). The main ethnic groups are Italian-speakers (about 60% of the total) and German speakers (a little under 35%), with a small minority speaking the Ladin language (5%). In Bolzano province or South Tyrol, the majority language is German (about 68% of the population), although in the capital city of the same name Bolzano three quarters of the population speak Italian. In Trento province or Trentino there are very few German-speakers. They live mainly in the municipality of Lusern/Luserna and four municipalities in the Bersntol/Mocheni Valley. There are also Ladin-speakers living in the Fassa Valley. Unlike in South Tyrol, the protection of minority language groups in Trentino is not covered by the new Statuto d'Autonomia, although it is under current provincial statutes.


The region of current South Tyrol was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC. After the end of the Western Empire, it was divided between the Lombards (Salorno), Alamanni (Val Venosta) and Bavarians (from Bolzano to Brenner). After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy under Charlemagne, the frontier mark of Trento included the counties of Bolzano and Venosta, while the Duchy of Bavaria received the remained part.

From the 11th century onwards, part of the region was governed by the prince-bishops of Trento and Brixen-Bressanone, to whom the Holy Roman Emperors had given extensive temporal powers over their bishoprics. The rest was part of the County of Tyrol: in 1363 its last titular, Marguerite of Gorizia (von Görz) ceded it to the House of Habsburg. The region was largely Germanized in the early Renaissance, and important German language poet like Walther von der Vogelweide and Oswald von Wolkenstein were originary of South Tyrol.

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 local hero Andreas Hofer, in 1809 which was soon crushed; after Napoleon defeat, in 1815, the region returned to Austria. The Italian denomination of Alto Adige was created during the French occupation.

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

Under the rule of Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy (ruled 1922-1943), South Tyrol was subjected to an intensive programme of forcibly imposed Italianization: all references to old Tyrol were banned and the region was referred to as "Venezia Tridentina," in an attempt to justify the Italian claims to the area by historically linking the region to the Republic of Venice (in fact the Republic never ruled Trentino). 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 "Alpenvorland" (literally "Alpine Foreland") 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. 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 only resolved in 1971 when a new Italo-Austrian treaty was signed and ratified. It stipulated that disputes in Bolzano province would be submitted for settlement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, that the province would receive greater autonomy from Italy, and that Austria would not interfere in Bolzano'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.


The regional capital is Trento and the region is divided into two autonomous provinces: Provincia autonoma di Trento or Trentino and Provincia autonoma di Bolzano or South Tyrol. The provincial capitals alternate biennially as the site of the regional parliament.

The autonomy of both provinces elevates them de facto to the status of autonomous regions.

External links

Regions of Italy
AbruzzoAosta ValleyApuliaBasilicataCalabriaCampaniaEmilia-RomagnaFriuli-Venezia GiuliaLazioLiguriaLombardyMarcheMolisePiedmontSardiniaSicilyTrentino-South TyrolTuscanyUmbriaVeneto