Vorarlberg, Austria

By | September 9, 2021

Vorarlberg is primarily characterized by a high degree of industrialization (strong export intensity) and the tourism sector. With a gross domestic product (GDP) per resident of (2016) € 44,700, it is in third place in a comparison of the federal states; Vorarlberg’s contribution to national GDP is 4.9% (2016). From the beginning of the 1960s a structural change took place in the structured economy of small and medium-sized enterprises; the service sector caught up strongly, but with a share of (2016) 61.1% of gross value added (GVA; at manufacturer prices) still well below the Austrian average of 71.0%. Within the industrial sector, the textile industry, whose share of industrial production was around 70% until the early 1970s, has lost considerable importance (2016: 7.5%); Vorarlberg has developed into a versatile industrial country. Mechanical engineering, the manufacture of metal products and electrical appliances, the food and beverage industry, the manufacture of rubber and plastic goods as well as waste collection and recycling are also important today. The regional unemployment rate in 2016 was 5.9%, below the national average of 9.1%.

Agriculture: The primary sector (agriculture, forestry and fishing) has always played a subordinate role in Vorarlberg due to the high proportion of extreme mountain locations and early industrialization. The share of this sector in GVA is 0.6% (Austrian average: 1.2%). The agricultural area comprises (2017) 16.0% of the country’s area, 36.0% is forest. The Alps cover 23.4% of the country’s area. In addition to traditional grassland management (sometimes with a high proportion of alpine pastures), arable farming (increasing proportion of special crops) is mainly practiced in the Rhine plain; There are also orchards on Lake Constance. Cattle breeding is geared towards both meat and dairy farming (especially cheese production).

Energy industry: In 2015, the share of electricity in final energy consumption was 27.1%, followed by 26.5% fuels (excluding tanker tourism) and 21.7% natural gas. The share of heating oil was 9.0%, the other energy sources (wood, sewage gas, solar energy) came to 15.7%. The majority of the electricity demand in Vorarlberg is covered by hydropower.

Industry: 35.8% of all employed persons in Vorarlberg (2016) work in the industrial sector (industry and trade including construction and energy supply). This value is well above the Austrian average of 25.6%. Material goods production amounted to € 10,529 million in 2016, of which metal products accounted for 19.5%, mechanical engineering 15.4%, food and beverages 9.0% and electrical appliances 7.4%. The industrial locations in the Rhine Valley are mainly concentrated around Bregenz, Lustenau, Dornbirn and Feldkirch. With € 24,544 per resident, Vorarlberg has the highest export value per resident in Austria (average € 15,001). The industry is structured as small to medium-sized. Of the 336 companies, 50.9% belong to the group of small companies (up to 9 employees), 25.6% to small companies (10–49 employees) and 15.8% to medium-sized companies (50–249 employees).

Tourism: Vorarlberg’s service sector is mainly formed by tourism. The most important travel destinations are the Arlberg region (with Lech and Zürs), the Montafon and the Kleine Walsertal as well as the festival city of Bregenz. Vorarlberg is primarily known as a winter sports area with guaranteed snow. The number of overnight stays was (2015) 8.55 million (89% of which were foreign guests).  Visit baglib.com for types of travel in Europe.


The most important traffic routes are the Rhine and lower Illtal. With the rest of Austria, Vorarlberg is via the Arlberg expressway (tunnel), the Arlbergpass road as well as the Silvretta high alpine road and the road in the Lechtal (via the Flexenpass connection with the Klostertal), with Germany via the Rheintalautobahn (Bregenz-Bludenz) connected. Vorarlberg is also conveniently located at the intersection of the international railway lines Vienna – Arlberg (tunnel) –Feldkirch – Zurich – Basel and Munich – Bregenz – Zurich – Geneva.


The area inhabited in the northern part by the Celtic Brigantians (tribe of the Vindeliker) and in the remaining part by the Rhaetian Vennones became 15 BC. Subjugated by the Roman Empire to the province of Raetia et Vindelicia, in the 4th century the province of Raetia prima and Romanized. From the 5th century the population was penetrated from the north by Alemanni; however, the Romansh remained z. B. alive in the Montafon and Walgau until the 17th century. Around 537 Raetia came under Frankish rule about. After Vorarlberg temporarily became independent in the 7th century, Franconian rule was renewed in the 1st half of the 8th century. From the 9th century onwards, various noble families (Hunfridinger, Udalrichinger, Count of Bregenz) tried to gain power. In 1032/40 the division into Bregenz, lower and upper councils took place. In the High Middle Ages, the country was opened up in terms of settlement and traffic, and from the 13th century onwards, the Counts of Montfort established sovereignty. The cities of Bregenz and Feldkirch flourished; In the 14th century, the long-distance route across the Arlberg gained great importance as a thoroughfare for the trade in linen-weaving products, wood and salt. From 1363 the Habsburgs acquired Land in Vorarlberg; the acquisition of Bregenz (finally in 1523) ended the unification of Vorarlberg under their rule.

Until 1752 and from 1782 Vorarlberg Tyrol was subordinate (1752–82 Front Austria), with which it fell to Bavaria in 1805, before it finally came to Austria in 1814, with the exception of an area in the western Allgäu that remained with Bavaria. In 1861 it received its own state parliament, but it was not dissolved by Tyrol until 1918. In spite of the referendum of May 11, 1919, which called for 80% to join Switzerland, Vorarlberg became a federal state of the First Republic of Austria. During the “annexation” of Austria to the German Reich (1938–45) Vorarlberg was again part of Tyrol; Vorarlberg has been an Austrian state since 1945. As the strongest political force in Vorarlberg since 1945, the ÖVP provides the governor; Markus Wallner took over on December 7, 2011(* 1967) the office, which however lost the absolute majority in the state elections on September 21, 2014 with the ÖVP. Wallner agreed with the Greens on a coalition government, which he continued after the election on October 13, 2019.

Vorarlberg, Austria