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Country flag State coat of arms
Country flag State coat of arms
Basic data
National language : German
State capital : Bregenz
Biggest City : Dornbirn
National anthem : 's Ländle, my home
ISO 3166-2 : AT-8
Abbreviation: V
Website: www.vorarlberg.at
Map: Vorarlberg in Austria
Liechtenstein Schweiz Bodensee Vorarlberg Tirol Tirol Salzburg Kärnten Burgenland Wien Steiermark Oberösterreich Niederösterreich Italien Slowenien Deutschland Kroatien Slowakei Tschechien UngarnVorarlberg in Austria.svg
About this picture
Area : 2,601.12 km²
- of which country: 2,533.84 km² (97.4%)
- of which water: 67.64 km² (2.6%)
- Rank: 8th of 9th
Geographic location : 46 ° 50 '- 47 ° 36
' N.B. 9 ° 32 '- 10 ° 14' E.
Expansion: North – South: 84 km
West – East: 53 km
The highest point: 3312  m above sea level A.
( Piz Buin )
Deepest point: 395  m above sea level A.
( Lake Constance )
Administrative division
Districts : 004 districts
Judicial districts : 005
Municipalities : 096, of which 5 cities 12 market communities
Map: administrative districts
Bezirk Bludenz Bezirk Bregenz Bezirk Dornbirn Bezirk FeldkirchThe Vorarlberg administrative districts
About this picture
Residents : 397,139 (January 1, 2020)
- Rank: 8th of 9th
Population density : 153 inhabitants per km²
Proportion of foreigners: 17.7% (2019)
Governor : Markus Wallner ( ÖVP )
Ruling parties: ÖVP and Greens
Distribution of seats in the state parliament :
Allocation of seats in the 31st state parliament :
17th 7th 4th 
A total of 36 seats
Last choice: October 13, 2019
Gross domestic product : 17.27 billion euros (2016)
GDP per capita: 44,700 euros
Unemployment rate : 5.4% (annual average 2018)
Rhine valley near Bregenz
Rear Bregenz Forest

Vorarlberg is a federal state in the west of the Republic of Austria . The state capital is Bregenz . Also called Ländle , it is the westernmost and second smallest federal state in terms of area and population.

Many forms of culture in Vorarlberg differ from the rest of Austria. For example, High and High Alemannic dialects are spoken ( Vorarlbergerisch ), which, apart from smaller linguistic islands in Tyrol , do not occur in the rest of Austria. From a geographical point of view, the country lies largely in the catchment area of the Rhine , while the rest of Austria, with small exceptions, belongs to the Danube .

The name Vorarlberg (in Austria usually emphasized on the second syllable: [ foːɐ̯ˈarlbɛrk ], in Germany sometimes also on the first: [ ˈfoːɐ̯ arlbɛrk ]) is derived from the Arlberg Pass , which was once important in terms of transport. From the perspective of the old empire and the ancestral seat of the Habsburgs in the canton of Aargau , the area is “in front of” the Arlberg. The name "Vorarlberg" has been used since the middle of the 18th century for the areas that have grown together to form one country.


The area of ​​Vorarlberg is generally given as 2,601.48 km². Without the area of ​​the high lake of Lake Constance , which according to the condominium theory prevailing in Austria and Germany , is administered jointly by all neighboring states under international law, the land area is only 2,596 km².

The country lies between Lake Constance and the Alpine Rhine in the west, the Arlberg and the Verwall group in the east, the Rätikon and Silvretta mountain ranges in the south and the Allgäu in the north.

Neighboring countries

Vorarlberg has a 321 km long national border, over which it is 110 km to the Federal Republic of Germany (Free State of Bavaria ), 107 km to the Swiss Confederation ( Canton St. Gallen and Canton Graubünden ), 69 km to the Austrian state of Tyrol and to 35 km bordering the Principality of Liechtenstein .

Due to the unique international law peculiarity in Europe that there are no jointly defined national borders outside the heap off the shore, i.e. in the so-called deep area of Lake Constance, the Obersee belongs to all neighboring states according to the condominium theory. However, Switzerland raises territorial claims up to the middle of the lake and no claims beyond the middle of the lake.

Political geography

The state is divided into four administrative districts of different sizes . These each bear the name of their capital. The areas of Bludenz , Bregenz , Feldkirch and Dornbirn are in decreasing order .

In addition to these administrative districts, there are the five judicial districts Bezau , Bludenz , Bregenz , Dornbirn and Feldkirch . In general, the district courts located in the district capitals each cover the entire district. The case of the Bezau District Court, which covers almost the entire Bregenzerwald and Kleinwalsertal, limits the area of ​​the Bregenz District Court.

Vorarlberg is divided into 96 independent political communities and 107 cadastral communities . Five Vorarlberg municipalities have municipal rights ( Bludenz , Bregenz , Dornbirn , Feldkirch and Hohenems ) and a further twelve were elevated to market municipality .

The seat of the highest organs of the state, the Vorarlberg state parliament and the state government , is the state capital Bregenz. According to the state constitution , the governor could order it to be relocated to another location in the state for the duration of extraordinary circumstances .


The mountainous Vorarlberg is geographically structured primarily by the valleys and their rivers: The Rhine Valley with the Rhine and the Walgau with the Ill are the most populous areas. Other valleys and their rivers are the Montafon ( Ill ), the Klostertal ( Alfenz ), the Große Walsertal ( Lutz ), the Brandnertal ( Alvier ), the Laternsertal ( Frutz ), the Leiblachtal ( Leiblach ), the Bregenzerwald ( Bregenzer Ach ), the Kleinwalsertal ( Breitach ) and the Lechtal ( Lech ) in the Arlberg region .

Metropolitan areas

Vorarlberg is divided into several large areas, which are mostly related in terms of traffic engineering or planning. The most important of these large areas is the Rhine Valley , which runs from Bregenz to Feldkirch and, with almost 240,000 inhabitants, is the largest metropolitan area in Vorarlberg. This means that around two thirds of Vorarlberg's population is concentrated in this area in the far west of the country.

The second largest region is the Walgau with around 48,000 inhabitants. Other regions are the Bregenzerwald , the Montafon , the Lake Constance region including the Leiblachtal and the Große Walsertal. The Kleinwalsertal is a geographical specialty, which cannot be reached by traffic from Austria and is only accessible via Bavaria. Nevertheless, it belongs to the Bregenz district as a “functional enclave ”.

Part of the Vorarlberg Rhine Valley and a small part of the Walgau are also combined in the state green zone .

Rivers and bodies of water

The main river in Vorarlberg is the Alpine Rhine , which for a long distance forms the border with Switzerland. The Ill is the second most important river and flows through the Montafon and Walgau before flowing into the Rhine at Meiningen . Other important bodies of water are the Bregenz and Dornbirner Achs , as they drain large parts of the mountains of the Bregenzerwald. The largest lake is Lake Constance , in which Vorarlberg has a share of 11% (28 km). Other significant lakes are the Lünersee and the Kopsspeicher , but both are reservoirs of the illwerke vkw . From the Lechquellengebirge springing Lech , the northeast to Tirol flows.


Vorarlberg is connected to the rest of Austria in the east by three passes, which are not or only partially accessible all year round. These are the Arlberg , the Hochtannberg (actually connects the Bregenzerachtal with the upper Lechtal) and the Bielerhöhe in the Silvretta (between the Montafon and the Paznaun valley). The Flexenpass creates the connection between the uppermost Lech Valley, the Klostertal and the Arlberg. A pass that is not passable all year round is the Furkajoch , which connects the Rhine Valley via the Laternsertal with the inner Bregenzerwald (Damüls). Two other important crossings in Inner Vorarlberg are the Bödele ( Losenpass 1140 m) between Dornbirn or the Rhine Valley and the Bregenzerwald and the Faschinajoch , over which a state road leads from the Bregenzerwald into the Großwalsertal and further into the Walgau.

Important mountains and mountain ranges

The Rote Wand (2704 m) in the Lechquellen Mountains in Vorarlberg, winter photo from the helicopter, Cinedoku Vorarlberg cover picture
The area around the Rote Wand forms the geographical center of Vorarlberg.

The highest mountain in Vorarlberg is the Piz Buin at 3312 m. Other well-known mountains are the Zimba ( Rätikon ), the Schesaplana (highest mountain in the Rätikon), the Rote Wand ( Lechquellengebirge ), the Three Towers ( Montafon ), the Three Sisters (near Frastanz / Feldkirch ), the Diedamskopf and the Kanisfluh in the Bregenz Forest , the Große Widderstein (highest mountain in the Kleiner Walsertal ), the Karren in Dornbirn and the Pfänder in Bregenz.

Probably the best-known mountain range is the Silvretta in the south-east of the country. Vorarlberg's largest glacier is also located here. Another important mountain range is the Rätikon , which is also located in the south of the country on the border with Switzerland. The mountains drop steeply towards the north. In the Bregenzerwald, the mountain heights rise gradually towards the southeast up to 2650 m (Braunarlspitze). The well-known local mountain of the state capital, the Pfänder (1064 m) in the north-west of the country, rises more than 650 m above Lake Constance, but is still one of the lowest mountains in the state.


Vorarlberg was at least since 500 BC. . BC from Celtic tribe of the Briganties populated. In the year 15 BC The Romans conquered the area and built the city of Brigantium in the area of ​​today's state capital Bregenz into an important military base and Lake Constance port.

The raids of the Alemanni began around 260 and they settled here from around 450 onwards. With the Alemanni the area came to the Frankish Empire, in 843 to the East Franconian Empire. As heirs of the Udalrichinger, the Carolingian counts u. a. were in the Lake Constance area, the Counts of Montfort gained rule in the area of ​​Bludenz, Bregenz and Feldkirch around 1200.

Since the 14th century came the individual dominions of the Habsburgs , who were anxious to their territories in today's Switzerland and her Austrian possessions arrondieren : 1363 rule Neuburg am Rhein, 1375, the county Feldkirch, 1394 the rule Bludenz with the Montafon, 1397 the lordship of Jagdberg , 1451 half of the county of Bregenz, 1453 the courts of Tannberg and Mittelberg, 1474 the county of Sonnenberg (the Truchsessen von Waldburg ), 1523 the second half of the county of Bregenz. Numerous lordships in southwest Germany ( Freiburg im Breisgau ) and today's Switzerland ( Fricktal in the later canton of Aargau) were also owned by the Habsburgs ( Upper Austria ). Up until the 17th century a governor was at the head of the administration of the Habsburg territories in Vorarlberg.

Map of Vorarlberg (from 1783)

The Walser immigration from Upper Valais (Switzerland) and Graubünden (Switzerland) also fell into the 14th century . In the 13th century, the Alemannic population in Upper Valais had grown so much that space was too tight for them. An expansion further west was not possible because of the strong Romans (Duchy of Savoy), so they moved over the eastern and southern mountain passes into the neighboring high valleys (Walser migration).

In 1765, after the Earl's House died out, the County of Hohenems also fell to the Habsburgs in the male line. With the establishment of the Tyrolean district office of Vorarlberg in 1786, at that time for the lords of Bregenz and Hohenems, the state appears for the first time as a single entity. In 1804 the acquisition of the dominions Blumenegg and St. Gerold , formerly owned by the Weingarten and Einsiedeln monasteries, and finally in 1814 the former imperial court Lustenau rounded off the territory.

In the Napoleonic era, between 1806 and 1814, the area of ​​Vorarlberg belonged to Bavaria and then, with the exception of the Western Allgäu, parts of the lordships of Bregenz and Hohenegg came back to Austria; it was still administered from Innsbruck.

1861 Vorarlberg was crown land and received like all crown lands its own parliament and its national committee as an executive body, but remained in terms of the general government administration still the responsibility of the kk  governor's office in Innsbruck, which represented the Emperor as a sovereign and the Imperial Government in Vienna. Remnants of this administrative unit with Tyrol still exist today. B. in the judiciary (higher regional court Innsbruck) or in the chamber organization (architects, notaries).

After the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, Vorarlberg separated its administration from that of Tyrol in 1918. A referendum in 1919 that approved negotiations with Switzerland on Vorarlberg's accession to the Swiss Confederation resulted in a majority of over 80 percent, but failed because of the hesitant policy of the (provisional) Vorarlberg State Assembly and the Swiss Federal Council , which carefully balanced the relationship between languages and denominations in Switzerland did not want to imbalance with German-speaking Catholics through an additional canton , as well as the peace treaties of St. Germain and Versailles . The derogatory designation of Vorarlberg as the canton of the rest , on the other hand, comes from an opponent of the project who was in favor of joining Germany. With the establishment of the republic, Vorarlberg became an independent federal state with its own state government and a constitution that is essentially still in force today. Vorarlberg is the only Austrian federal state that describes itself as an independent state in its state constitution.

When Austria was annexed to the German Reich on March 12, 1938, Vorarlberg and all of Austria were de facto annexed by the German Reich to the cheers of the local National Socialists. Shortly after the National Socialists came to power , Vorarlberg was forcibly merged with Tyrol to form the " Gau Tirol-Vorarlberg " and dissolved as an independent regional authority. In 1938 only very few Jews lived in Vorarlberg . The Jewish community of Hohenems , which had existed since the 17th century, was forcibly dissolved and the Jews deported to concentration and extermination camps.

In Vorarlberg, too, which was almost completely spared from acts of war, the National Socialist tyranny and the Second World War claimed human lives, including soldiers killed for racist or political reasons and fallen on the fronts. Shortly before the end of the war in the spring of 1945, the local SS shot at civilians who had hung white flags out of the windows “too early” when the French troops were approaching.

After the war, Vorarlberg belonged to the French zone of occupation from 1945 to 1955 together with the state of Tyrol (except East Tyrol ) .

In 1964, Vorarlberg made headlines across the country when an angry crowd in the Lake Constance community of Fußach saw a ship being christened "Vorarlberg" instead of the name " Karl Renner " provided by the Federal Ministry of Transport . This local protest against the central government came to be known as the Fußach Affair .

In 1999 and 2005, severe floods devastated parts of Vorarlberg and caused great damage.


Graphic representation of the political system in Vorarlberg

Vorarlberg is defined by its state constitution both as an "independent state" and as part of the federal state. Due to the federal structure of the Republic of Austria and the federal principle of the Federal Constitution, Vorarlberg, as a federal state, has its own executive and legislative bodies as well as its own judicial body with the regional administrative court . Both the executive and legislative bodies and the regional administrative court have their seat in the regional capital Bregenz .

State government

The Vorarlberg state government, as the government elected by the state parliament, is responsible for the implementation of state laws and special federal laws that fall within the implementation of the states. The governor is the chairman of the state government and head of government . In Vorarlberg, his deputy is not referred to as the “Deputy Governor”, ​​as is the case in the other federal states, but as the state governor . In addition to the governor and governor, the government also includes other regional councils with different areas of responsibility.

In the Wallner III state government, which has been in office since 2019, under the leadership of Governor Markus Wallner (ÖVP), three other state councils of the ÖVP and two state councils of the coalition partner Die Grünen are represented in addition to state governor Barbara Schöbi-Fink (ÖVP) .

State legislation

The Vorarlberg state parliament acts as the legislative body of the state and state parliament. The 36 members of the state parliament are elected every five years by the Vorarlberger Landesvolk and currently belong to four different parliamentary groups. After the election to the Vorarlberg state parliament on October 13, 2019 ( state election in Vorarlberg 2019 ), the Vorarlberg People's Party with 17 members, the Greens Vorarlberg with 7 members, the Vorarlberger Freedom Party with 5 members, the SPÖ Vorarlberg with 4 members and NEOS with 3 members represented in the state parliament.

The meetings of the Vorarlberger Landtag are chaired by the President of the Landtag or his two deputies. Harald Sonderegger (ÖVP) is currently President of the Vorarlberg State Parliament, his deputies are Monika Vonier (ÖVP) and Sandra Schoch (GREEN).

In addition to the legislative activities and control of the government, the state parliament also has the task of sending three members to the Austrian Federal Council , the regional chamber of the Austrian parliament , in each legislative period . In the current, 31st legislative period of the Vorarlberg state parliament, it first sent Magnus Brunner (ÖVP), Heike Eder (ÖVP) and Adi Gross (GREEN) as Vorarlberg representatives to the state chamber, with Magnus Brunner after his appointment as State Secretary at the beginning of January 2020 by Christine Schwarz-Fuchs (ÖVP) was replaced.

Political developments

Since the beginning of the Second Republic , Vorarlberg's politics have been dominated by the conservative Vorarlberg People's Party , previously, during the time of the First Republic , by its predecessor organization, the Christian Social Party . The SPÖ Vorarlberg left the state government in 1974 . For a long time, Vorarlberg was the only Austrian federal state in which, according to the state constitution, the government seats are not allocated according to the proportional representation principle , but according to the principle of majority , but since 1999 the principle of majority has also applied in Salzburg and Tyrol .

Until the 2014 election - with one exception between 1999 and 2004 - the ÖVP always had an absolute majority in the state parliament. Therefore, the government seats granted to the respective junior partner in the governing coalition in previous state governments were not a political necessity. After the state elections in Vorarlberg in 2009 , in the run-up to which there had been a rift within the ÖVP / FPÖ coalition, the Vorarlberg People's Party and its then Governor Herbert Sausgruber decided for the first time since 1945 to form a sole government. After the state elections in 2014, there was a coalition between the ÖVP and the Greens for the first time, which was continued after the state elections in 2019 .

The Greens Vorarlberg have been represented as the fourth party in the Vorarlberg state parliament since 1984 . After the BZÖ split off from the FPÖ, the Vorarlberg Freedom Party initially opted for an independent third way, but in 2006 they again subordinated themselves to the Federal FPÖ. Since NEOS entered the state elections in 2014, the Vorarlberg state parliament has belonged to five parliamentary groups.

For several decades, the basic stance of Vorarlberg politics has included a strong emphasis on Austrian federalism , a sometimes fundamental opposition to the Austrian federal government in Vienna - regardless of its party-political composition - and a generally somewhat more liberal stance of all parties. The clearest symbol of the strongly anchored idea of ​​independence in Vorarlberg was the Fußach affair in 1964.

coat of arms

The state symbols of the country are the state coat of arms, the state seal , the state anthem and the state colors.

The Vorarlberg state constitution determines the state coat of arms introduced in 1918 with the words: "The coat of arms of the state is the Montfortic red banner on a silver shield."

The Montfortic banner has three equally wide bibs with black fringes and has three red rings on the upper edge. The upper field of the banner has two, the bibs are crossed with three black horizontal lines.


Political Districts

Political Districts
Vehicle district Residents
(as of January 1, 2020)
in km²
(population / km²)
BZ District Bludenz 064.107 1286 050
B. Bregenz district 134,987 0865 156
DO Dornbirn district 089,912 0172 522
FK Feldkirch district 108.133 0278 389
V Vorarlberg 397.139 2601 153

Vorarlberg is divided into four political districts. These are arranged from north to south:

Although the cities of Bregenz , Dornbirn and Feldkirch are of the required size, there are no statutory cities in Vorarlberg .

Administration facilities

The administration in Vorarlberg is traditionally organized on a decentralized basis. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that Vorarlberg was not an independent state until 1918 and therefore did not have a state capital and the facilities were divided between the largest cities. On the other hand, Bregenz is the seat of the state parliament and state government, but as the third largest city in the state it does not occupy the central position, as state capitals usually do in most other federal states. The entire Rhine Valley, especially the three larger cities of Bregenz, Dornbirn and Feldkirch, can be seen as the actual political and social center of Vorarlberg.

Institutions of national importance in the individual cities and municipalities that are usually located in the state capital are, for example:

Bregenz : State government, state police department , military command, state library , state archive , state museum , state theater , state school board for Vorarlberg (school supervision), Kunsthaus Bregenz , Bregenz Festival , chamber of agriculture , regional office of the farmers' social insurance institute, state office of the public insurance company

Wolfurt : Freight station for the entire Rhine Valley - resulting from this: Wolfurt-Bahnhof post office as the largest and most important post office, Wolfurt-Bahnhof customs office and headquarters of ÖBB-Postbus AG

Dornbirn : ORF regional studio, university of applied sciences , Vorarlberg regional health insurance fund, regional office of the pension insurance institute, economic development institute of the economic chamber, medical association

Feldkirch : seat of the diocese , regional court , Vorarlberg transport association , main customs office for Vorarlberg, chamber of labor, Austrian trade union federation, chamber of commerce , university of education, regional office of the social insurance institute for commercial enterprises, largest regional hospital ( Feldkirch regional hospital ), regional financial directorate for Vorarlberg , regional fire department school , Vorarlberg regional conservatory school

Lustenau : Federation of industrialists, seat of the International Rhine Regulatory Authority , most important customs office on the Swiss border, central oil warehouse for all of Vorarlberg


In Vorarlberg there are a number of protected areas with different characteristics. Such areas usually serve to preserve and secure the beauty, uniqueness and diversity of the natural and cultural landscape. The requirements and regulations for establishing protected areas are correspondingly high. A region to be protected can be characterized by its originality, and it can accommodate animal and plant species that are worth protecting, or rare minerals or fossils. "Special scenic beauty" or the recreation of the population can also be important criteria. A (traditional) agricultural and forestry use such as extensive cultivation of littered and poor meadows are a prerequisite for an award in some protected areas.

The areas are decided by ordinance of the Vorarlberg state government and, depending on the protection purpose and content, designated as a nature reserve, European reserve, landscape protection area, protected part of the landscape, quiet zone, nature park or biosphere park.

There are the following protected areas in Vorarlberg:

  • 39 European protected areas with a total area of ​​24,132 hectares (approx. 9.3% of the land area)
  • 25 nature reserves with a total area of ​​14,256 ha (approx. 5.5% of the land area)
  • 9 protected parts of the landscape with a total area of ​​4,388 ha (approx. 1.69% of the land area)
  • 3 landscape protection areas with a total area of ​​584 ha (approx. 0.3% of the land area)
  • 3 plant protection areas with a total area of ​​4,300 ha (approx. 1.6% of the land area)
  • 1 UNESCO-Biosphere Park Großes Walsertal with a total area of ​​19,231 ha. The biosphere park is not completely closed as a nature reserve, but can be explored on numerous hiking and cycling trails. With the "Biosphärenpark Haus" a visitor center was built as an educational facility and there are guided tours by the park rangers.
  • 1 Nagelfluhkette nature park with a total area of ​​15,410 hectares. This park is a large conservation area between the Allgäu and Bregenzerwald . This park also has a strong educational background and the rangers and nature park ambassadors are available for guided tours or workshops. In the "AlpSeeHaus" information center, all aspects of the Nagelfluhkette nature park are presented to visitors centrally.

Natural beauties and natural spectacles in Vorarlberg

The Lünersee (in 2019), the Körbersee (in 2017) and the Formarinsee (in 2015) were named the “most beautiful places in Austria” by the television audience and expert jury in the course of the TV show “ 9 Places, 9 Treasures ” of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ”Chosen.

The Zimba is one of the most famous climbing mountains in Vorarlberg with a height of 2643  m above sea level. A. Since the shape of the mountain is reminiscent of a horn on all sides, it is also called the Vorarlberg Matterhorn . The approaches to the climbing tours are not too difficult, but the tours themselves should not be underestimated. The highest mountain is the Piz Buin in the Silvretta at 3312  m above sea level. A.

The Rhine Delta nature reserve is the largest wetland on Lake Constance and is one of the most important breeding and resting areas for birds.

The moorlands near Krumbach / Bregenzerwald belong to the protected areas due to their special biodiversity and relevance for species and flood protection. They were developed for (tourist) educational purposes with a hiking trail and can also be visited with a guide. The installed information stations and bog seats explain the geology and history of the bogs.

One of the most spectacular natural spectacles in the Rhine Valley is the Ebniter Valley with the Rappenloch , Alploch and Schaufel gorges, the Staufensee reservoir , the Kirchle and the Gunzenach / Kobelach . The gorges can be reached via Dornbirn and are accessible from April to October, outside of this time there is a risk of falling rocks.

Culture and customs

Bregenz Festival 2019

Vorarlberg offers cultural offers especially in the cities. In addition to theaters and cinemas, the lake stage with the Bregenz Festival should be mentioned. For the museums see the list of museums in Vorarlberg .

But also cultural festivals such as the Schubertiade in Hohenems and Schwarzenberg, the Bregenz Festival , the Montforter Zwischenentöne, the Poolbar Festival in Feldkirch, the Montafoner Resonanzen, the Klassik Krumbach, the Bregenzer Spring dance festival, the Luaga & Losna theater festival, the Vorarlberg traditional festival Walserherbst, the Blumenegger summer, the Alpinale , boat trips on Lake Constance, and pilgrimage routes (the Way of St. James, for example) can all be experienced.


BUS: STOP Unterkrumbach Nord

Sights can be found particularly in the old towns of Feldkirch , Bludenz and Bregenz . But there are also some buildings in the Bregenz Forest and the Montafon that are on the list of listed objects. Historical sites all over the Vorarlberg landscape testify to the past in a variety of ways. Small pilgrimage sites are Maria Bildstein , the Sankt Gerold provost in the Großer Walsertal and the basilica in Rankweil .

Current contemporary architecture in Vorarlberg combines traditional materials that naturally surround the people of Vorarlberg with sustainability and modern expressions, examples can be seen in various locations, such as the vorarlberg museum , the BUS: STOP Krumbach and the Skyspace Lech. The latter was specially designed by James Turell in 2014 for the location near Lech (Vorarlberg) so that it can be seamlessly integrated into the landscape. It was opened to the public in September 2018.


Children on a meadow in Au in the Bregenz Forest
Mother with daughter in traditional Bregenzerwald costume ( Juppe )

With 153 inhabitants per square kilometer, Vorarlberg is the second most densely populated state in Austria after Vienna. With the conurbation between Feldkirch and Hörbranz , it has one of the most densely populated areas in Europe. Due to the early industrialization in Austria's comparison , Vorarlberg developed into a classic immigration country as early as the 19th century . The small country in terms of area has the highest proportion of immigrants next to Vienna . In 2015 this was around 16% of the total population. The largest migrant group are residents of German origin, closely followed by immigrants from Turkey. The third largest group of immigrants in Vorarlberg, far behind, are people from the states of the former Yugoslavia .

Vorarlberg was still relatively sparsely populated until the middle of the 19th century. The regulation of the Rhine , the construction of the railways and the associated boom in industry promoted the settlement of Trentino residents who came to the country as workers. Numerous Italian surnames, including well-known ones such as Collini and Girardelli, are evidence of this wave of immigration.

The first wave of immigration, beginning in the inter-war period, consisted mainly of people from Eastern Austria, especially Styrians and Carinthians . During the Nazi era, a large number of South Tyrolean optants immigrated . For this purpose, the distinctive South Tyrolean settlements , which are still preserved and inhabited, were built in the larger municipalities of the country.

After the Second World War , several large waves of immigration reached the Vorarlberger Land, which explains the large population jump between 1923 and 1951 (despite the war) and between 1961 and 1971. In 1966, for example, 26.3 percent of the Vorarlberg population were born outside the country. The first wave consisted mainly of German expellees ( Sudeten Germans and Lower Styrians ). The second major wave of immigration in the 1960s and early 1970s came with guest workers, especially from Turkey and Yugoslavia , whose labor was mainly needed in the textile industry . This wave of migration was brought about by the relatively good economic situation in Vorarlberg and neighboring Switzerland.


Vorarlberg population by religion, 2018

  • Roman Catholic (61.0%)
  • Christian Orthodox (4.0%)
  • protestant (2.9%)
  • muslim (13.0%)
  • other confessions (1.5%)
  • without confession (17.6%)
  • At the last census carried out by Statistics Austria in 2001, around 78% of Vorarlberg residents were Roman Catholic and around 2.2% Protestant . In 2015, 241,037 Vorarlberg residents were Roman Catholic, which corresponded to around 64% of the population. Most of the Protestant believers supported the Augsburg Confession , but there was also a small group that supported the Helvetic Confession . Muslims made up around 8.4% of the population in 2001; this makes Islam the second largest religious community in Vorarlberg. The number of Muslim residents has increased since then and their share of the population was 11.5% in 2012. This religion mainly includes Turkish and Bosnian immigrants; it is represented above average in the Dornbirn district, where various Muslim religious groups make up more than 10% of the population. In the 2001 census in Vorarlberg, 20,945 people did not belong to any religious community, which corresponds to about 6% of the population.

    Since the census in 2001 (with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church), no reliable figures on the religious affiliation of the Vorarlberg population have been collected. Only the religion of the Vorarlberg elementary school students is systematically recorded. In addition to the declining proportion of Catholics in the total population, these figures indicate a strong change in the religious composition of the Vorarlberg population since 2001. Today (as of 2018) 61.3% of primary school students are Roman Catholic, 1.5% Protestant, 4.1% Christian Orthodox, 22.5% Muslim, 2% belong to other religious communities and 8.4% are without religious beliefs Confession.


    In contrast to the rest of Austria, no Bavarian but Alemannic dialects are spoken in Vorarlberg , which are related to the Alemannic dialects in German-speaking Switzerland , the southern Baden and Alsatian Alemannic and Swabian . The popular designation of Vorarlberg as "Ländle" refers to the Alemannic language area. The northern Vorarlberg dialect (Bregenzerwald and the state capital Bregenz) is most closely related to the Allgäu dialect ; the dialect spoken in the Vorarlberg Rhine Valley is more based on the dialects of the Swiss Rhine Valley ( canton of St. Gallen ) and Liechtenstein . Above all in geographical terms, but also for some everyday objects, many Romance terms have survived and spread.


    The main traffic axis of Vorarlberg leads through the Rhine Valley , the Walgau and the Klostertal to the Arlberg , through which the state is connected with the rest of Austria. The most noteworthy crossings to Tyrol are the Bielerhöhe , the Arlbergpass and the Arlberg road tunnel as well as the transition to the Lech Valley near Warth .

    At the level of individual traffic, this traffic axis is realized with the Rheintal / Walgau motorway A 14 and the Arlberg expressway S 16 (with the Arlberg road tunnel).

    In the area of ​​public transport, the Lindau – Bludenz railway line and the Arlberg railway form the main axis. Together with the Feldkirch – Buchs line and the St. Margrethen – Lauterach line , these lines are served by the ÖBB . There is also the Bludenz – Schruns railway line operated by the Montafonerbahn . The EuroCity trains from Munich to Zurich stop in Vorarlberg at Bregenz station . The Railjet trains from Vienna to Zurich stop at Feldkirch and Bludenz stations . The narrow-gauge Bregenzerwaldbahn was largely shut down around 1980. Only a short section is still operated as a museum railway today.

    The regional bus , city ​​bus and local bus system (most lines run every half hour) complete the public transport, which is integrated into the Vorarlberg transport association .

    In contrast to the other two countries bordering Lake Constance, Switzerland and Germany, which operate several regular ferry routes, Lake Constance shipping is of no importance for Vorarlberg in the context of passenger transport. The Vorarlberg Lake Constance fleet is only used for tourism purposes and only operates in the summer months. One of the ships in the fleet is called Vorarlberg , see Fußachaffäre .

    Apart from an airfield for sports aircraft in Hohenems and two heliports in Feldkirch and Ludesch, Vorarlberg has no airport. The nearest airports are Innsbruck in Austria, Altenrhein and Zurich in Switzerland, Friedrichshafen , Memmingen , Munich and Stuttgart in Germany.

    In December 2008, Vorarlberg received funding of 4.7 million euros from the federal government to carry out a model test for electric cars. Around 100 new electric cars were introduced, especially in the Rhine Valley, 50 of which were purchased and leased by the Illwerke / VKW group . The electricity required for the vehicles is obtained from renewable energies. In the tender for the model region, the state prevailed against Graz, Linz and Salzburg.

    In 2017, the degree of motorization (passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) was 535.



    Economically, the state of Vorarlberg is one of the earliest developed industrial regions in Austria. Today the traditional textile industry dominates less, but the precision engineering and electronics industry as well as tourism ( Lech and Zürs am Arlberg, Montafon , Bregenzerwald , Kleinwalsertal ). Vorarlberg is the second most industrialized federal state in Austria with the strongest export orientation (export quota of industrial production around 70%). Cross-border commuters to Switzerland and Liechtenstein are another important factor.

    In comparison with the gross domestic product of the European Union in terms of purchasing power standards , Vorarlberg achieved an index of 139 in 2014 (EU-27 = 100).


    The major model companies of international importance include ALPLA in Hard (plastic packaging), Julius Blum GmbH and Grass in Höchst (fittings), Gebrüder Weiss in Lauterach (transport and logistics), Zumtobel in Dornbirn (lighting technology), and Doppelmayr in Wolfurt (cable car construction) , Rauch fruit juices in Rankweil and Nüziders as well as Pfanner in Lauterach (fruit juices), Suchard (chocolate) and Getzner Textil in Bludenz as well as Wolford (textiles) and the Rhomberg Group (construction and railway) in Bregenz . In addition, several major foreign corporations with strategic production facilities have settled in Vorarlberg. For example, Liebherr and Hydro-Aluminum in Nenzing should be mentioned here. There are also four breweries located in Vorarlberg.

    Service companies

    In Vorarlberg, 51 nursing homes offer  2147 residential / care places, of which 1818 care places and 329 residential places in 1914 rooms; 1755 are single rooms. In 2006, 3,687 people were cared for, of which 1152 were only temporarily placed in a nursing home (all figures 2006).

    The prostitution in Vorarlberg de facto banned because they only in the parish council approved brothels must take place and no such authorizations are granted. In 2011 there were around 70 to 100 illegal brothels; the industry and customers are also moving to the neighboring Swiss Rhine Valley .


    The electricity industry is a fundamental part of Vorarlberg's economy today, with hydropower being the main source of energy. This is mainly used for the production of peak electricity. Due to an agreement with Baden-Württemberg, peak power is exchanged with German base power at a ratio of 1: 4. In 2003, Vorarlberg was also the first region in Europe to generate more renewable energy than is consumed there. Green electricity from Vorarlberg is therefore also sold to West Allgäu in Germany, Switzerland and other Austrian federal states. The largest electricity producer and seller in Vorarlberg is illwerke vkw AG . It produces 75% of Vorarlberg's electricity primarily through hydropower.


    The tourism industry in Vorarlberg, although the country is an established travel destination, plays a relatively minor role for an Alpine country. The gross added value is around 6%. In the tourism year 2002/03, revenues of 2.1 billion euros were generated.

    The industry was stable in the 1980s to 2000s, with the number of overnight stays fluctuating between 7.5 and 8.7 million per year between 1980 and 2003. 88% of these are foreigners, of which 74% are Germans (2003).

    The most important tourist region is the Montafon (share of overnight stays in 2003: 25%), followed by the Kleine Walsertal and the Bregenzerwald (around 20%), the Arlberg , the Bludenz region and the Lake Constance-Alpine Rhine region (around 12%).

    The later Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway spent the two winters of 1924/25 and 1925/26 with his family in Vorarlberg, where he lived in Schruns and Gaschurn for several months. Through his stories about the region in his novel Paris - A Festival for Life , the area is particularly well known as a winter destination in the USA.


    The economic development of Vorarlberg in the 2000s was assessed as "very positive and is assessed to be more dynamic for the future than for the neighboring countries". This also applied to the forecast population and employment growth compared to the neighboring countries, with the exception of Liechtenstein.

    The Vorarlberg economy is currently affected by changes in the structure, such as the emigration or closure of large companies in the textile industry and rising unemployment figures. The unemployment rate in Vorarlberg in 2012 was 5.6%, 0.9 percentage points below the national average.


    Montafonerhaus - typical architecture in Vorarlberg

    The architecture scene in Vorarlberg has a reputation throughout Europe and, with the New Vorarlberg Building School, has made “Vorarlberg” a label for a sophisticated architectural approach, a fruitful confrontation between traditional building methods and modern interpretation. The Vorarlberg Building School is considered to be one of the most important pioneers of New Alpine Architecture .

    In the Bregenzerwald workshop , local craftsmen work on various materials and with different techniques. The publicly accessible place is used to present the craftsmanship, to promote building culture in cooperation with architects and to increase design competence and quality of craftsmanship with the preferred involvement of young people.

    The independent structures of the Bregenzerwälderhaus and the Montafonerhaus are particularly relevant for the historical architecture . The Rheintalhaus is the traditional rural house form in Dornbirn and the surrounding communities in the Vorarlberg Rhine Valley.

    In Vorarlberg there are numerous modern buildings for culture, leisure and tourism that have been awarded national and international architecture prizes.

    Universities and research institutions

    Media landscape

    In the area of ​​print media, the Vorarlberger Nachrichten newspaper dominates, appearing alongside the two other high-reach, nationwide print products ( Neue Vorarlberger Tageszeitung , Wann & Wo ) under the umbrella of Russmedia (formerly Vorarlberger Medienhaus ) of the Russ family of publishers. In the past, the UN's editorial line consisted of campaigns that propagated Vorarlberg as an independent entity against “rest of Austria” (in particular Vienna, which was dominated by social democrats as a historical “enemy”) (see also Fußach affair ).

    In the newspaper sector, there were repeated legal disputes between the Vorarlberg media company and other publishers who see the Vorarlberg media company in a kind of monopoly position. The Vorarlberg media house also holds shares in the private broadcaster Antenne Vorarlberg . Only the Austrian public broadcasting service , with the daily regional TV news program window and the radio station Radio Vorarlberg, can counter this media presence to a rudimentary degree . On March 5, 2007, the first analogue switch-off took place in Austria, thus starting the final switch to digital TV ( DVB-T ).

    See also

    Portal: Vorarlberg  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Vorarlberg


    Web links

    Commons : Vorarlberg  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
    Wiktionary: Vorarlberg  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wikivoyage: Vorarlberg  - travel guide
    Wikisource: Vorarlberg  - Sources and full texts

    Individual evidence

    1. Statistics Austria - Population at the beginning of 2002–2020 by municipalities (area status 01/01/2020)
    2. ^ Population at the beginning of the year since 2002 by summarized nationality - Vorarlberg , Statistics Austria
    3. ↑ Gross regional product 2016 , Statistics Austria, accessed on December 6, 2017
    4. [1]
    5. iksms
    6. transboundarywaters
    7. Manfred Tschaikner : "VORarlberg" or "VorARLberg"? For historically correct emphasis on the country's name . In: Vorarlberg . No. May 8 , 2015 ( full text as PDF on the Vorarlberger Landesarchiv's website ).
    8. ↑ Country name website of the Vorarlberg state government, accessed: July 7, 2010.
    9. ^ All information: Office of the Vorarlberg state government, state press office: Vorarlberg compact. Everything about the country and its people . Bregenz 2012, p. 12. - ( vorarlberg.at PDF; 1.6 MB), accessed on January 4, 2013.
    10. Immigration to Vorarlberg and Tyrol , described on the page "Walser in the Alps" (walser-alps.eu).
    11. ^ Johann Jacob Staffler: Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Volume 1 (Tyrol and Vorarlberg, statistical). Verlag Rauch, 1839, Fifth Section State Administration , Chapter District Offices , p. 460 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
    12. ^ Daniel Witzig: The Vorarlberg Question. The Vorarlberg connection movement to Switzerland, territorial renunciation and territorial claims against the background of the reorganization of Europe 1918–1922 (Basel Contributions to the Study of History 132). Basel / Stuttgart, 1974.
    13. Jörg Krummenacher: "Canton Remaining". Do the Vorarlbergers want to go to Switzerland today? NZZ Online, October 23, 2008, accessed: July 7, 2010
    14. a b Article 1, paragraph 2 of the Vorarlberg state constitution defines the state as an independent state.
    15. ↑ Play the Vorarlberg national anthem ( memento from October 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (MP3; 2.0 MB)
    16. Information according to the website of the Vorarlberg state government , accessed: July 7, 2010
    17. Statistics Austria - Population at the beginning of 2002–2020 by municipalities (area status 01/01/2020)
    18. Protected areas. In: Natural diversity. Accessed July 30, 2020 (German).
    19. ^ Protected areas in Vorarlberg. In: Natural diversity. Accessed July 30, 2020 (German).
    20. Großes Walsertal Biosphere Reserve. Accessed July 30, 2020 (Austrian German).
    21. Information center Nagelfluhkette. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
    22. The new natural diversity magazine "Our Moore" is here! In: Natural diversity. July 3, 2018, accessed on July 30, 2020 (German).
    23. Skyspace Lech, accessed: April 9, 2019
    24. ^ Peter Meusburger , The foreigners in Liechtenstein. An economic and socio-geographic study, Innsbruck 1970, p. 53
    25. ^ Austrian Academy of Sciences: Religious affiliations in Austria at the federal state level: Estimates for Vorarlberg, 2001–2018 (PDF). 2018, accessed May 6, 2020 .
    26. a b Statistics Austria: Population according to religious denomination and the federal states .
    27. Slight decline in people leaving the church . Article on vorarlberg.ORF.at from January 12, 2016.
    28. Muslim everyday practice in Austria ( Memento from August 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ); Study by the University of Vienna from 2013, accessed: October 21, 2016
    29. Easter at primary schools in Vorarlberg: Holidays still very popular , accessed: September 19, 2018
    30. ^ Vorarlberg, Energy ; ORF-Online from December 4, 2008, accessed on July 7, 2010
    31. statistik.at
    32. Gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant, in purchasing power standard (PPS), by NUTS 2 regions
    33. In the Rhine Valley instead of in the “clean Ländle” to the brothel: The de facto prostitution ban in Vorarlberg leads to an accumulation of establishments in St. Gallen , Neue Zürcher Zeitung of July 29, 2011, p. 12
    34. Vorarlberg Chamber of Commerce, 2003. Quoted from the Vorarlberg traffic concept 2006 - Mobil im Ländle . In: Office of the Vorarlberger Landesregierung (Ed.): Spatial planning Vorarlberg series . tape 26 . Bregenz January 2006, 3.3 Economic Development , p. 19 ( pdf , vorarlberg.at).
    35. ^ Office of the Vorarlberg State Government, 2004. Quoted from the Vorarlberg Transport Concept 2006 . 3.3 Economic development , p. 19 .
    36. https://hemingwayswelt.de/ernest-hemingway-fremdelt-kein-bisschen-mit-dem-vorarlberg/
    37. Prognos AG (Ed.): Development of cross-border traffic in Vorarlberg. Update of the study on cross-border road traffic in the Vorarlberg Rhine Valley from 1990 . Basel 2001. Quoted from traffic concept Vorarlberg 2006 . 3.3 Economic development , p. 19 .
    38. Overview table of the most important labor market figures 2012 (PDF; 48 kB) of the Vorarlberg Public Employment Service .
    39. ^ Vorarlberg Museum Awards. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
    40. Awards. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
    41. Awards Montforthaus. Accessed July 30, 2020 (German).
    42. ^ Werkraum Vorarlberg - Architecture. In: Werkraum. July 5, 2013, accessed on July 30, 2020 (German).
    43. ^ Province of Vorarlberg - brochure "Science and Research in Vorarlberg". In: www.vorarlberg.at. Retrieved April 1, 2016 .

    Coordinates: 47 ° 18 '  N , 9 ° 54'  E