Regione Autonoma Trentino-Alto Adige
Autonome Region Trentino-Südtirol
|Capital ||Trento |
|President ||Luis Durnwalder |
(SVP and Olive Tree)
|Provinces ||Bozen-Bolzano |
|Municipalities ||339 |
|Area ||13,607 km² |
| - Ranked ||11th (4.5 %) |
|Population (2001) |
16th (1.6 %)
|Map higlighting the location of Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy |
Trentino-Alto Adige or Trentino-South Tyrol (in German: Trentino-Südtirol, in Italian: Trentino-Alto Adige) is an autonomous region in northern Italy. It consists of two distinct areas, the Italian-speaking Trento and the largely German-speaking Alto Adige (South Tyrol), part of Austria until its annexation by Italy in 1919. It was called Venezia Tridentina between 1919-1947.
Geography and Economy
The 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 Passo Brennero, 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 Val Gardena area.
Trentino-South Tyrol has a population of about 940,000 people (460,000 in Bozen/Bolzano and 480,000 in Trento). 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 Bozen/Bolzano province or South Tyrol (Alto Adige, Südtirol), the majority language is German (about 70% of the population). In Trento province or Trentino there are very few German-speakers. They live in the municipality of Lusern/Luserna and four municipalities in the Bersntol/Mocheni Valley. There are also Ladins living in the Fiemme Valley. Unlike Bozen-Bolzano, minority language groups in Trentino are not constitutionally protected.
From the 11th century onwards, most of the region was governed by the prince-bishops of Trent and Bressanone, to whom the Holy Roman Emperors had given extensive temporal powers over their bishoprics. This arrangement came to an end at the start of the 19th century with the dissolution of the Empire and in 1815 the region passed to Austria. The large Italian minority agitated for unification with Italy, making the issue a key priority for the irredentist movement in Italian politics.
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 South Tyrol to Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain. What is now Trentino-Alto Adige was renamed and reorganised as "Venezia Tridentina" ("Venetian Trent"), alluding to the former mainland territories of the Republic of Venice (although in fact the Republic never ruled Trent).
Under the rule of Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy (ruled 1922-1945), the region was subjected to an intensive programme of forcibly imposed Italianisation. Hitler and Mussolini agreed in 1938 that the German-speaking population would be transferred to German-ruled territory or dispersed around Italy, but the unpopularity and practical difficulties of this scheme, as well as the outbreak of the Second World War, meant that it was never put into effect.
In 1943, the region was occupied by Germany, which reorganised it as the "Alpenvorland" (literally "Alpine Foreland") and put it under the administration of a Nazi Gauleiter. This status came to an end 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: Bolzano (South Tyrol) and Trento (Trentino). 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.
- Official site (http://www.regione.trentino-a-adige.it/) in German and Italian
- Autonomous Region Trentino - Alto Adige (http://www.provincia.bz.it/english/overview/region_trent_tyrol.htm) - introduction about the region's autonomy statute.