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Province Of Bolzano-Bozen

The Province of Bolzano-Bozen, also referred to as South Tyrol or Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two provinces that make up the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, which is itself an autonomous region. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants. Its capital is the city of Bolzano (German: ''Bozen''; Ladin: ''Balsan'' or ''Bulsan'').

The majority of the population speaks an Austro-Bavarian dialect, about a quarter is Italian-speaking and a small minority has Ladin as a mother language.

In the wider context of the EU, the province is one of the three members of the Euroregion of Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, which nearly exactly corresponds to the historical region of Tyrol.

Names of the province

The German official name is ''Autonome Provinz Bozen - Südtirol''. German speakers call it shortly Südtirol, from the fact that the area was formerly within the southern part of the County of Tyrol, and usually refer to it not as a ''Provinz'', but as a ''Land'' (such as the Länder of Germany and Austria).

''Provincia autonoma di Bolzano – Alto Adige'' is the Italian official name, but colloquially it is simply referred to as ''Alto Adige'' (or more seldom as ''Sudtirolo''). This toponym, meaning "Upper Adige", from the Adige river which flows through the region, is a translation from the French ''Haut-Adige'', which is the name given to it by Napoleon, who ruled Italy from 1805 to 1814.

The Italian Constitution recognizes the bilingual diction ''Alto Adige/Südtirol''.

In the local Ladin language this territory is officially known as ''Provinzia autonoma de Bulsan – Südtirol'' or ''Provinzia autonoma de Balsan – Südtirol''.

In English it is often called ''Province of Bolzano-Bozen'', reflecting the multilinguality of this region.

The province is also commonly referred to by its less formal names of ''South Tyrol'' (corresponding to the German ''Südtirol'') and ''Alto Adige''.

The official names include the information that the province is ''autonomous''. Unlike all other provinces of Italy, Bolzano-Bozen is granted a considerable level of self-government, consisting of a large range of exclusive legislative powers and a fiscal regime that allows the province to retain 90% of all levied taxes.


The province of Bolzano-Bozen is located at the northernmost point in Italy. The province is bordered by Austria to the east and north, specifically by the Austrian states Tyrol and Salzburg, and by Switzerland (canton of Grisons) to the west. The Italian provinces of Belluno, Trent, and Sondrio border to the southeast, south, and southwest, respectively.

The landscape itself is mostly cultivated with different types of shrubs and forests.


Climatically the province of Bolzano-Bozen may be divided into five distinct groups:

The Adige/Etsch valley area, with cold winters (24-h averages in January of about 0°C) and warm summers (24-h averages in July of about 23°C), usually classified as Humid subtropical climate – Cfa. It is the driest and sunniest climate of the province. Main cities in this area: Bolzano, Neumarkt.

The midlands between 300 and 900 metres, with cold winters (24-h averages in January between minus 3°C and plus 1°C) and mild summers (24-h averages in July between 15°C and 21°C); This is a typical Oceanic climate, classified as Cfb. It is usually wetter than the subtropical climate, and very snowy during the winters. During the spring and autumn, there is a large foggy season, but fog may occur even on summer mornings. Main towns in this area: Meran, Bruneck, Sterzing, Brixen. Near the lakes in higher lands (between 1000 and 1400 meters) the humidity may make the climate in these regions milder during winter, but also cooler in summer, then, a Subpolar oceanic climate, Cfc, may occur.

The alpine valleys between 900 and 1400 metres, with a typically Humid continental climate – Dfb, covering the largest part of the province. The winters are usually very cold (24-h averages in January between minus 8°C and minus 3°C), and the summers, mild with averages between 14 and 19°C. It is a very snowy climate; snow may occur from early October to April or even May. Main municipalities in this area: Urtijëi, Badia, Sexten, Toblach, Stilfs, Vöran, Mühlwald.

The alpine valleys between 1400 and 1700 metres, with a Subarctic climate – Dfc, with harsh winters (24-h averages in January between minus 9°C and minus 5°C) and cool, short, rainy and foggy summers (24-h averages in July of about 12°C). These areas usually have five months below the freezing point, and snow sometimes occurs even during the summer, in September. This climate is the wettest of the province, with large rainfalls during the summer, heavy snowfalls during spring and fall. The winter is usually a little drier, marked by freezing and dry weeks, although not sufficiently dry to be classified as a Dwc climate. Main municipalities in this area: Corvara, Sëlva, Santa Crestina Gherdëina.

The highlands above 1700 meters, with an alpine Tundra climate, ET, which becomes an Eternal-Frost climate, EF above 3000 meters. The winters are cold, but sometimes not as cold as the higher valleys' winters. In January, most of the areas at 2000 meters have an average temperature of about minus 5°C, while in the valleys at about 1600 meters, the mean temperature may be as low as minus 8 or minus 9°C. The higher lands, above 3000 meters are usually extremely cold, with averages of about minus 14°C during the coldest month, January.


Entirely located in the Alps, the province's landscape is dominated by mountains. The highest peak is the Ortler (3,905 m) in the far west, which is also the highest peak in the Eastern Alps outside the Bernina range. Even more famous are the craggy peaks of the Dolomites in the eastern part of the region.

The following mountain groups are (partially) in South Tyrol. All but the Sarntal Alps are on the border with Austria, Switzerland, or other Italian provinces. The ranges are clockwise from the west and for each the highest peak is given that is within the province or on its border.


The province is divided into eight districts (comunità comprensoriali, Bezirksgemeinschaften), one of them being the capital city of Bolzano. Each district is headed by a president and two bodies called the district committee and the district council. The districts are responsible for intermunicipal disputes, roads, schools and social services such as retirement homes.

The province is further divided into 116 ''comuni'' (see Communes of the province of Bolzano-Bozen).


Largest municipalities


:''Further information: Linguistic and demographic history of Alto Adige-South Tyrol''

German and Italian are both official languages of the province of Bolzano-Bozen. In some eastern municipalities Ladin is the third official language.

Every citizen has the right to use his own mother tongue, even at court. Schools are separated for each ethnic group.

All traffic signs are bi- or trilingual. Only panels in railway stations run by the province are sometimes monolingual (German). Most Italian toponyms are translations invented by Ettore Tolomei, the author of the so called Prontuario dei nomi locali dell'Alto Adige.Rolf Steininger: "South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century", Transaction Publishers, 2003, ISBN 9780765808004, pp.21-46

In order to reach a fair allocation of jobs in public service a system called ethnic proportion (Ita. ''proporzionale etnica'', Ger. ''ethnischer Proporz'') has been established. Every ten years, when the general census of population takes place, each citizen has to declare to which linguistic group he belongs or wants to be aggregated to. According to the results they decide how many people of which group are going to be hired for public service.

At the time of the annexation of the southern part of Tyrol by Italy in 1919, the overwhelming majority of the population spoke German: In 1910, according to the last population census before World War I, the German-speaking population numbered 224,000, the Ladin 9,000 and the Italian 7,000.Oscar Benvenuto (ed.): "[http://www.provincia.bz.it/Astat/downloads/Siz_2008-eng.pdf South Tyrol in Figures 2008", Provincial Statistics Institute of the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol], Bozen/Bolzano 2007, p. 19, Table 11
As a result of the italianization of South Tyrol nowadays about 25% of the population are Italian-speakers (they were roughly 35% in the 1960s). According to the census of 2001, 103 out of 116 communes have a majority of German native speakers – with Sankt Pankraz reaching 99.81% - 8 Ladin and 5 Italian speakers. The Italian-speaking population is mainly based around the city of Bolzano, where they are the majority (73% of the inhabitants), and is a direct result of Benito Mussolini's policy of Italianisation after he took power in 1922, when he encouraged immigration from the rest of Italy. The other four comuni where the Italian-speaking population is the majority are Laives, Salorno, Bronzolo and Vadena. The eight comuni with Ladin majorities are: La Val, Badia, Corvara, Mareo, San Martin de Tor, Santa Crestina Gherdëina, Sëlva, Urtijëi.

The linguistic breakdown according to the census of 2001:


The province of Bolzano-Bozen is an administrative entity the origins of which go back to World War I. In 1915, the Entente promised the area to Italy in London as an incentive to enter the war on their side. Until 1918 part of the Austro-Hungarian Princely County of Tyrol, this almost completely German-Speaking territory was occupied by Italy at the end of the war in November 1918 and annexed in 1919. The province as it exists today was created in 1926 after an administrative reorganization of the Kingdom of Italy and was incorporated together with the province of Trent into the newly created region ''Venezia Tridentina''.

Under the fascist government huge efforts were made in order to bring forward the Italianization of South Tyrol. The German language was banished from public service, German teaching was officially forbidden and German newspapers censored with the exception of the fascist Alpenzeitung. On the other hand the regime massively favoured immigration from other Italian regions.

The subsequent alliance between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini excluded that South Tyrol would follow the destiny of Austria, which had been annexed to the Third Reich. Instead the dictators agreed that the German-speaking population should 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.

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.

After the war the Allies decided that the province should remain a part of Italy under the condition that the German-speaking minority be granted an important level of self-government. Italy and Austria negotiated an agreement in 1946, recognizing the rights of the German minority. Alcide de Gasperi, Italy's prime minister, a native of Trentino, wanted to extend the autonomy to his fellow citizens. This lead to the creation of the region called ''Trentino-Alto Adige/Tiroler Etschland''. German and Italian were both made official languages, and German-language education was permitted once more. But as the Italians were the majority in the region, the self-government of the German minority became impossible.

This fact together with the arrival of new Italian-speaking immigrants led to strong dissatisfaction among South Tyroleans, which culminated in terrorist acts perpetrated by the ''Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol'' (BAS -Comity for the liberation of South Tyrol). In a first phase only public edifices and fascist monuments were targeted. The second phase was bloodier, costing 21 lives (among them 15 Italian policemen and 4 terrorists).

The South Tyrolean question (''Südtirolfrage'') became an international issue. As the implementation of the post-war agreement was not seen as satisfactory by the Austrian government, the matter became a cause of significant friction with Italy 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 the campaign of terrorism.

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.

The new autonomous status, granted from 1972 onwards, has resulted in a considerable level of self-government, also due to the large financial resources of the province of Bolzano-Bozen, retaining almost 90% of all levied taxes.

The province today

Italy and Austria officially ended their dispute with an autonomy agreement in 1992.
Since the new statute of autonomy came into force, the province has undergone considerable development and is nowadays the richest region in Italy .

The extensive self-government provided by the current institutional framework has been advanced as a model for settling interethnic disputes and for the successful protection of linguistic minorities. This is among the reasons why the Ladin municipalities of Cortina d'Ampezzo/Anpezo, Livinallongo del Col di Lana/Fodom and Colle Santa Lucia/Col have asked in a referendum to be detached from Veneto and reannexed to the province, from which they were separated under the fascist government.

Nonetheless ethnic tensions still persist. In particular, amongst Italians there is a widespread feeling of discomfort. This is due to the fact that public service is no longer a domain of Italian speakers, as it was until the 1970s, when they occupied more than 90% of public jobs. Moreover, the political representation of them is very fragmented, which makes it difficult to lobby for Italian interests.

In a referendum in 2002 the largely Italian population of Bolzano voted against the renaming of Victory Square, where there is a huge fascist monument, known as Bolzano Victory Monument. The alternative would have been Peace Square, but this was seen as an effort to deprive the city of its Italian identity.

In 2006 almost all South Tyrolean mayors sent a petition to the parliament of Vienna, in order to codify the role of Austria as protector of South Tyrol in the new Austrian constitution.
As an answer, former Italian president and senator for life Francesco Cossiga introduced a bill that would allow the region to hold a referendum, in which the local electorate could decide whether to stay with the Republic of Italy, become fully independent, return to Austria, or become a part of Germany.
The proposed bill met considerable opposition and was withdrawn. The South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) rejected the proposal as well, maintaining the referendum would revive ethnic tensions.

Signpost placed by the party South Tyrolean Freedom at the Austro-Italian border proclaiming "''Süd-Tirol ist nicht Italien!''" ("South Tyrol is not Italy!) The independence controversy is especially an issue of the German parties The Libertarians, South Tyrolean Freedom and Union für Südtirol. With the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, the idea of a ''Freistaat'' (free state) resurfaced again.Eva Klotz and her party South Tyrolean Freedom, which launched the campaign ''South Tyrol is not Italy!'', are among the strongest advocates of self-determination.

During the 2008 regional elections, the incumbent South Tyrolean People's Party lost votes to her party, the regionalist Lega Nord Sud Tirolo and The Libertarians, who have close ties to the nationalist Freedom Party of Austria.

The ''Südtiroler Heimatbund'' asked the Soffi-Institute in Innsbruck to conduct an opinion poll on the future of South Tyrol. The poll was conducted at the end of 2005 in which only German-speaking South Tyroleans were asked. 45.33% of those asked were in favour of remaining with Italy, 54.67% were against remaining. The latter group comprised 33.40% in favour of an independent state and 21.27% in favour of Tyrolean reunification with Austria.

Another poll conducted in August 2008 by the apollis Institute of Social Research and Opinion Polling in Bolzano asked 502 Italian-speaking South Tyroleans of their opinion. The poll consisted of three parts. To the first question if a referendum about remaining with Italy should be held at all, 41% said yes and 59% no.
In the event of a referendum, 78% wished to remain with Italy, 20% were in favour of an independent state and 2% in favour of Tyrolean reunification with Austria.

Across the border in the Austrian state of Tyrol, the ''Tiroler Tageszeitung'' conducted a poll in January 2009 to gauge the opinion of the inhabitants of North and East Tyrol. 500 people were asked in the poll. In 2008, 45% wished a reunification with South Tyrol, that number increased in 2009 by 4% to 49% in favour. 36.6% were against reunification while 14.1% had no opinion.
In the age group of 15- to 29-year olds, 71% were in favour of reunification. The highest support by district was in the Oberland with 67% while Innsbruck city and district was lowest with 42%.


The local government system is based upon the provisions of the Italian constitution and the Autonomy Statute of the Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

The considerable legislative power of the province is vested in a provincial assembly (Consiglio della Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano; Südtiroler Landtag; Cunsëi dla Provinzia Autonoma de Bulsan).
The legislative powers of the provincial assembly cover all those subject matters that are not expressly reserved to the exclusive legislative power of the Italian State or to concurrent legislation per article 117 of the Italian Constitution.

The executive powers are attributed to the provincial government (Giunta Provinciale; Landesregierung), headed by the ''Landeshauptmann'' Luis Durnwalder, who has been in power since 1989. He belongs to the Südtiroler Volkspartei, which has been governing with absolute majority since 1945.



In terms of GDP per capita the province of Bolzano is the richest region of Italy, with 32,000€.

The majority of people are employed in a variety of sectors, from agriculture – the province is a large producer of apples, its wines are also renowned – to industry to services, especially tourism. The unemployment level in 2007 was roughly 2.4 % (2.0 % for men and 3.0 % for women).


South Tyrolean athletes are very successful at winter sports. Armin Zöggeler is a famous luger and double olympic champion. Carolina Kostner is a talented figure skater. HC Interspar Bolzano-Bozen Foxes are one of Italy's most successful ice hockey teams.

A German- and Ladin-speaking football team from the province of Bolzano-Bozen played in the tournament for European minorities in Switzerland in 2008. The inaugural Europeada 2008 was won by this team (using the name ''South Tyrol'') after beating the Croats in Serbia and the Roma team in the finals and semi-finals, respectively.

Friendship agreements

* Zhangjiakou, China (2007)

Source: Wikipedia