Geography of Carinthia

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Location of Carinthia in Austria

The geography of Carinthia , the southernmost Austrian state, is shaped by its location in the Eastern Alps and by the Klagenfurt Basin , the largest inner-Alpine basin landscape . Most of the cities and the Carinthian lakes, which are important for summer tourism, are located in the Klagenfurt Basin .


Carinthia forms roughly a rectangle and extends from north to south for around 70 km (from 46 ° 23 'to 47 ° 08' north latitude). The west-east extension is around 180 km from 12 ° 40 'to 15 ° 03' east longitude. With an area of ​​9,536 km², it is the fifth largest of the nine Austrian federal states.

Carinthia is bordered by East Tyrol in the west, Salzburg in the north-west , Styria in the north-east and east, and Slovenia and the Italian regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto in the south . The national border is almost entirely formed by mountain ridges: in the north by the Hohe Tauern and the Gurktal Alps, in the east by the Koralpe, in the south by the Carnic Alps and the Karawanken, in the west by the Lienz Dolomites and the Schober group.

The narrowing of the state area roughly in the middle to only 44 km, together with the different terrain forms, results in the subdivision into the Upper Carinthia , which is characterized by the high mountains, and the Lower Carinthia , which is dominated by the Klagenfurt Basin and extensive river valleys . The border runs roughly from Königstuhl (Gurktal Alps) in the north to the Mittagskogel (Karawanken) in the south, so Villach is on the border line. The term Central Carinthia, on the other hand, is less clearly defined, mostly referring to the area between the Nockberge and Saualpe.

Large landscapes and spatial units

The geographical units of space
Kaernten geo overall.png
(capital letters)
Klagenfurt Basin
(lower case letters)
1 Hohe Tauern
  1a Glockner group
  1b   Schober   group
  1c Sonnblick group
  1d Sadnig group
1e Ankogel-Hochalm
group 1f Reisseck group
  1g Hafner group
  1h Kreuzeck group

2 Gurktaler Alps
  2a Western Nock
  2b Eastern Nock
  2c Afritzer Nock
  2d Metnitzer Alps
  2e Mödringbergzug
  2f Wimitzer mountains
  2g Guttaringer mountains
3 Seetaler Alps
4 Saualpe
5 Packalpe
6 Koralpe
7 Drauzug
  7a Lienz
  7b Latschurgruppe
  7c Reißkofelgruppe
  7d Mean Gailtaler Alps
  7e Dobratsch
8 Karnische Alps
9 Karawanken
  9a Petzen
10 Kömmelberg
11 Steiner Alps

A1 Upper Drautal
A2 Lurnfeld
A3 Lower Drautal

B1 Upper Mölltal
B2 Middle Mölltal
B3 Lower Mölltal
B4 Mallnitztal
C1 Liesertal
C2 Maltatal
D Gailtal
  D1 Lesachtal
  D2 Upper Gailtal
  D3 Lower Gailtal
  D4 Gitschtal
E Valleys in the Gurktal Alps
  E1 Millstätter Valley
  E2   Middle
  Valley   Gurler E5
Gurge Senke Senke E3 Upper Gurge Senke E3   E7 Glödnitzer Tal   E8 Metnitztal   E9 Friesacher Feld F Lavanttal   F1 Upper Lavanttal   F2 Twimberger Graben   F3 Lower Lavanttal

a Villach field
b Faak-Veldener sink
c Ossiachertal
d Ossiacher Tauern
e Feldenkirchen-Moosburg hills
f Glantaler mountains
g Glantal
h Zollfeld
i St. Veit hills
k Krappfeld
l Brückler mountains
m Görtschitztal
n Launsdorfer sink
o Magdalen Berg
p Maria Saaler hills
q Klagenfurt field
r Völkermarkter Hügelland
s St. Pauler Berge
t Lavamünder Drautal
u Sattnitz
v Oberes Rosental
w Lower Rosental
x Vellach-Senke
y Klopeiner Hügelland
z Jauntal
This classification largely follows M. Seger in Mildner / Zwander 1999, p. 34f. The numbering is not that of the author.


Mountain ranges of Carinthia

Carinthia is bordered by mountains all around. While Upper Carinthia is characterized by high mountains, Lower Carinthia is dominated by the Lavanttal Alps with less high peaks. The Drau, which flows lengthways through the country, separates the primary rock region (north) from the limestone Alps (south). The exception to this scheme is the Goldeck , the only primary rock south of the Drau.

Central Alps

The Carinthian mountain ranges of the Central Alps are:

Hohe Tauern

The Hohe Tauern are divided into:

Gurktal Alps

The Gurktal Alps extend from the Liesertal in the west to the Neumarkter Sattel in the east and from the Murtal in the north to the Untere Drautal and the Klagenfurt Basin in the south. The highest mountain in the mountain range is the Eisenhut (2,441 m). They are divided into:


Saualpe, seen from Guttaring , April 2005

The Saualpe and then the Carinthian part of the Seetal Alps in the north lie between the Görtschitztal in the west and the Lavanttal in the east. The highest peak of the Saualpe is the Ladinger Spitz (2,079 m).

Styrian border mountains

The Carinthian part of the Styrian Randgebirge separates the Lavant valley in the west from the western Styrian hill country in the east. The Stub and Packalpe is north of the Packsattels. The highest peak is the Ameringkogel (2,187 m). The Koralpe extends from the Packsattel to Lavamünd. Its highest peak is the Große Speikkogel (2,140 m).

Southern Limestone Alps

The mountain ranges south of the Drau belong - with the exception of the Goldeck-Latschur group - to the Southern Limestone Alps :

Gailtal Alps

The Gailtal Alps between the Drau and Gail are divided into the Lienz Dolomites from the western border to the Gailbergsattel . To the east are the Reisskofel Group (between Gailbergsattel and Gitschtal), the Goldeck-Latschur Group (between Weissensee-Weissenbach and Drautal, mostly crystalline), the Spitzegel Group and the Dobratsch . The highest peak in the Gailtal Alps is in East Tyrol and is the Große Sandspitze (2,772 m). Other peaks: Spitzkofel (2,717 m), Tamerlanhöhe (2,377 m), Reißkofel (2,371 m), Latschur (2.236 m), Goldeck (2.142 m), Spitzegel (2.119 m) and Dobratsch (2,166 m).

Carnic Alps

The Carnic Alps form the natural border between Carinthia and Italy . They lie south of the Gailtal and extend in the east to the Gailitz. The highest peaks are: Hohe Warte (2,780 m), Zwölferspitze (2,593 m), Pfannspitze (2,678 m), Trogkofel (2,279 m) and Gartnerkofel (2,195 m).


The Karawanken are connected to the Carnic Alps in the east and form the southern border between Carinthia and Slovenia . Your highest mountain is the high chair (2,237 m). The Mittagskogel (2,143 m) and the Petzen massif (2,113 m) lie in the Karawanken .

Steiner Alps

Carinthia also has a small part of the Steiner Alps , which are located south of the Karawanken mainly in Slovenia.

Klagenfurt Basin

The Klagenfurt Basin extends from Villach to Lavamünd, from the Rosental in the south to Feldkirchen and Althofen in the north. It is the main settlement area of ​​the state with the cities of Klagenfurt , Villach , Sankt Veit an der Glan , Völkermarkt and Feldkirchen .

The basin is divided into valleys and basins, which are separated by hills and low mountain ranges. The following is an - incomplete - overview.

Lowlands are:

  • The Villacher Feld around the city of Villach.
  • The Rosental between Villach and the Gurk estuary lies between Karawanken in the south and Sattnitz in the north.
  • The Klagenfurt field lies between Klagenfurt and Völkermarkt.
  • The Zollfeld lies between Klagenfurt and St. Veit.
  • The Krappfeld stretches from St. Veit to Althofen .
  • The Jauntal lies between the Vellach estuary near Goritschach and Schwabegg south of the Drau and extends as far as the Karawanken.

Hills and mountain ranges are:

Rivers and valleys

Carinthia's rivers

The largest river in Carinthia is the Drau (1). It reaches Carinthia near Oberdrauburg and flows through a number of valleys and basins.

  • The Upper Drautal extends from Oberdrauburg via Greifenburg and Steinfeld to Sachsenburg and lies between the Kreuzeck mountain ranges in the north and the Drauzug in the south.
  • The subsequent Lurnfeld extends to Spittal.
  • The Lower Drautal extends to Villach and runs between the Gailtal Alps in the south and Mirnock in the north from northwest to southeast.
  • The rest of the course of the Drau lies in the Klagenfurt Basin. These include the Villacher Feld ; the Rosental between Sattnitz in the north and Karawanken in the south with St. Jakob im Rosental, Ferlach and Maria Rain ; the Jauntal ; and the deeply cut Lavamünder Drautal . The Drau leaves Carinthia around 4 km southeast of Lavamünd .

The main tributaries of the Drava are in the order of their confluence:

  • The Möll (2) rises at the foot of the Großglockner, is 80 km long and flows into the Drau at Möllbrücke . The Mölltal lies between the Sonnblick and Reisseck groups in the north and the Schober and Kreuzeck groups in the south. The largest towns are Heiligenblut , Winklern and Obervellach .
  • The Lieser (3) rises below the Kleiner Sonnblick. It flows through the Pöllatal , which merges into the Katschtal at Rennweg , which in turn merges into the Liesertal after the confluence of the Malta at Gmünd . The Lieser separates the Hohe Tauern from the Gurktal Alps and flows into the Drau at Spittal .
    • The Malta (4) rises below the Ankogel, is dammed up by the Kölnbreinsperre and flows through the Maltatal over a length of 38 km . The valley is bordered in the west by the Reisseckgruppe, in the east by the Rittenck der Hafnergruppe. The only bigger place is Malta . The Malta flows into the Lieser in Gmünd.
  • The Tiebel (5) rises at Auserteuchen north of the Gerlitzen, flows around it in a wide arc over Himmelberg and Feldkirchen and flows into the Ossiacher See. The Ossiacherseebach flows into the Treffner Bach , this one near Villach into the Drau.
  • The Gail (6) rises in East Tyrol and flows over a length of 122 km through the Lesachtal (to Kötschach-Mauthen), the Upper Gailtal (to Hermagor) and the Lower Gailtal (to Villach) and flows into the Drau in Villach.
    • The Gailitz (7) rises near the Nevea saddle in Italy and flows from Thörl-Maglern on Austrian territory. After a few kilometers it flows into the Gail at Arnoldstein .
    • The Gössering (8) flows through the Gitschtal and joins the Gail south of Hermagor.
  • The Vellach (9) rises in the Steiner Alps and flows through the Vellach valley and the Sittersdorf valley of the Jauntal. It flows into the Drava near Gallizien .
  • The Gurk (10) is the largest river after the Drava and is 120 km long. It rises on the Lattersteig, flows through the Obere Gurktal (main town Patergassen ), the Enge Gurk (Sirnitzer Gurkenge) and the Middle Gurktal (main town Strasbourg ) in the Gurktal Alps. In the Klagenfurt Basin, it flows through the Krappfeld between Althofen and Launsdorf as well as the Klagenfurt Feld and flows into the Drau at the Völkermarkt reservoir.
    • The Glan (11) rises in the Ossiacher Tauern. It flows through Feldkirchen , the Glantal (to St. Veit), the Zollfeld and the Klagenfurt Feld and flows into the Gurk above Grafenstein .
      • The Wimitz (12) rises from the Goggau lake , flows through the Wimitz mountains and flows into the Glan in St. Veit.
    • The Görtschitz (13) is created in Hüttenberg by the confluence of two streams. It flows through the Görtschitztal and flows into the Gurk at Brückl .
    • The Metnitz (14) rises on the Flattnitz , flows through the Metnitztal and from Friesach the Friesacher Feld and flows into the Gurk at Althofen. The largest places are Metnitz and Friesach.
  • The Wölfnitz (16) rises near the Ladinger Spitz on the Saualpe, flows through the town of the same name as well as Griffen and Ruden and flows into the Drau at St. Nikolai.
  • The Lavant (17) rises in Styria on the Zirbitzkogel . Between the Seetal Alps and Saualpe in the west and the Pack and Koralpe in the east, it flows through the Upper Lavant Valley , the Twimberger Graben and the basin-like Lower Lavant Valley . After 64 km it flows into the Drau in Lavamünd. The largest towns are Bad St. Leonhard , Wolfsberg and St. Andrä .

The area valley in the Nock Mountains between Radenthein and Villach cannot be clearly assigned to a river. The northern part of the Brennsee northwards is drained by the Feldbach, the larger southern part from the Afritzer See southwards from the Afritzerbach, which flows into the Treffner Bach.


Lakes in Carinthia

Carinthia has around 1270 lakes, mostly tongue basin lakes with a total area of ​​around 60 km², of which the four largest alone take up almost 50 km²:

For further information see Carinthian Lakes .

See also


  • Paul Mildner, Helmut Zwander (Ed.): Carinthia - Nature. The diversity of a country in the south of Austria. Publishing house of the Natural Science Association for Carinthia, 2nd edition Klagenfurt 1999. ISBN 3-85328-018-8
  • Herbert Paschinger: Carinthia. A geographic study of the country. Two volumes. Publishing house of the State Museum for Carinthia, Klagenfurt 1976 and 1979.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Seger: Introduction to regional studies and geographical structure . In: Paul Mildner, Helmu Zwander (Ed.): Carinthia - Nature. The diversity of a country in the south of Austria . 2nd Edition. Publishing house of the Natural Science Association for Carinthia, Klagenfurt 1999, ISBN 3-85328-018-8 , p. 25-62, especially 34 f .