Vorarlberg fōrˌärlˈbĕrkh [key], province (1991 pop. 331,472), 1,004 sq mi (2,600 sq km), extreme W Austria, bordering on Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany. Bregenz, on the eastern shore of Lake Constance (Bodensee), is the capital. It is a transportation hub, with Austria's most extensive road and rail connections to foreign countries. The province is a cattle-raising and dairy-farming region noted for its Alpine scenery. Among Austrian provinces, it ranks second only to Vienna in industrial wealth. Hydroelectric works dot the Bregenzer Ache and Ill rivers, and textile mills are found in almost every town. There are also important manufactures in watches, clocks, metal products, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Beautiful embroidery and lace are produced by artisans. Vorarlberg has numerous popular winter sports resorts; tourism is increasingly important to the region's economy. The province is bounded on the west by the Rhine River. Vorarlberg was part of the Roman province of Rhaetia and was acquired by the powerful counts of Montfort in the Middle Ages. The Hapsburgs gained possession of it piecemeal in the 14th, 15th, and 16th cent., and in 1523 it became a crownland, administered by the Tyrol. The region became an independent Austrian province in 1918. Culturally related to the Swiss, the inhabitants of Vorarlberg voted for unification with Switzerland after World War I. The attempt failed because of Allied and Swiss opposition.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Austria Political Geography