South Tyrol’s history
South Tyrol‘s history begins in 1919, at the end of WWI, when Austria-Hungary and Italy signed a ceasefire agreement in November 1918. The territory south of the Brenner was separated from Austria’s Tyrol and adjudicated to Italy. The systematic Italianisation of South Tyrol started when the Italian fascists under the leadership of Benito Mussolini seized power in 1922. The name Tyrol, first mentioned in 1271, was forbidden and Italian became the only permitted official and legal language from 1923 until 1925. The second phase of the Italianisation began when a large victory monument was erected in Bolzano in 1928; ten years after WWI had ended. South Tyrol was occupied by the Germans during WWII. Many young South Tyrolean men were conscripted by the Wehrmacht and fought on the side of the Germans with more than 8.000 killed in action. The Allies occupied South Tyrol in 1945. The South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), which is fighting for the right of the territory’s self-determination, was founded in the same year. The SVP still holds the majority at the Landtag of South Tyrol to this day. Between 1956 and 1960, Austria and Italy held many negotiation talks which all failed. In 1969, the Italian government presented Austria with a proposal; the so-called “Calendar of Operation“, which finally led to the ratification of the ”Package for South Tyrol” and the Second Statute of Autonomy for the Province Bolzano in 1972. This Statute of Autonomy guaranteed South Tyrol self-government, independence and bilingualism to a large extent. However, it took a further 20 years until the “package“ was fully ratified in 1992. South Tyrol has understood to benefit from its autonomy and has become one of the most wealthy, most modern and economically most prosperous regions not only in Italy but across Europe.
Figures and facts about South Tyrol
Did you know that South Tyrol is Europe’s largest continuous apple-growing area, that every 12th in Italy awarded wine is produced here and that you dive into the Alps’ warmest swimming lake in Kaltern near Eppan?
Here are some more facts:
- South Tyrol has a population of 500.000.
- There are three official languages: 70% of the population speaks German, 25% Italian and 5% have Ladin as their mother tongue. Ladin is still spoken in Gröden and Alta Badia.
- With its 100.000 inhabitants is Bolzano not only the capital but also the largest city in South Tyrol.
- South Tyrol stretches across an area of 7.400 km2 (44% of the area is forested).
- South Tyrol boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
- South Tyrol’s main rivers are: the Aldige, the Eisack and the Rienz
- South Tyrol generates almost double as much energy as it uses.
- In South Tyrol, energy is mainly produced by hydropower.
- About 950.000 tons of apples are harvested in Europe’s largest continuous apple-growing area every year. This is around 12% of the entire apple harvest in Europe.
- 98% of South Tyrolean wines have been awarded with the DOC, the Italian quality seal for wine. The amount of red and white wine produced is about the same.
- South Tyrol has the oldest cable car in the world. The cable car for the transport of passengers from Bolzano to Kohlern was built in 1908.
- South Tyrol boasts the largest continuous skiing area in the world - 12 regions with 1.200 kilometres of pistes.
- The world-famous glacier mummy was found in South Tyrol. The 5300 years old man from the ice (“Ötzi") is exhibited in the South Tyrolean Archaeology Museum in Bolzano.
- The largest high-alpine pasture in Europe is the Seiseralm (52 km2 = 8.000 football pitches).
- Lake Kaltern is the warmest swimming lake in the Alps.
- The Free University of Bolzano is the first trilingual university in Europe. Lectures are held in German, Italian and English.
Famous citizens of South Tyrol
A South Tyrolean freedom fighter and leader of the 1809 Tyrolean revolutionary movement against the occupation of his native home by the Bavarians and French. Today he stands for the heroic self-image of the Tyrolean people and is admired as popular and national hero.
The mountaineer and filmmaker from Gröden memorialised the Dolomites in films like “The Mountain Calls“ and made them popular.
The South Tyrolean was the first to climb all eight-thousanders, saw the Yeti, became a politician and established a five mountains museum in South Tyrol, his native home.
Olympic gold medallist, four-times world champion and four-times overall World Cup holder – one of the most successful skiers of all times.
Founded in Kastelruth in the early 80s, the band became the most successful folk music ensemble of all times. The Spatzen received the German Music Award ECHO 13 times, a record which has not been achieved by anyone else so far.
The 5300 years old glacier mummy can be admired at the Archaeology Museum in Bolzano. It was discovered on the glacier in the Val Senales in 1991.