South Tyrol – Why There’s a Bit of Italy in Tyrol

One Region, two Countries

Italy in Tyrol? – Strange, but True

Tyrol is made up of North, East and South Tyrol. Why then, you may ask, is South Tyrol in Italy?

Tyrol is an Alpine province in western Austria, tucked between Germany in the North and Italy in the South. But there is also a part of Tyrol in Italy.

The Austrian part of Tyrol is made up of North and East Tyrol. Peculiarly, these two parts of Tyrol don’t share a common border. To complicate matters further, Tyrol is also a multi-national region with South Tyrol being a part of Italy. 

World War I can be blamed for this somewhat unusual situation where there is a part of Italy in Tyrol. South Tyrol was annexed by Italy in 1918 . It is now part of the Euroregion Tyrol South-Tyrol Trentino, a cross-border joint entity. Tyrol makes up 12.640 km², with South Tyrol covering 7.398 km².

Just over 739,000 people call North and East Tyrol home, while around 522,000 people call South Tyrol home. The majority live in the capital cities of Innsbruck (131,000 residents) and Bozen (106,000 residents). A further 174,000 people live in the villages surrounding Innsbruck.

Strong Traditions

The common denominator between the Tyroleans and the South-Tyroleans is their traditionalism. Centuries-old traditions, many stemming from their Catholic faith, are still upheld in the villages and cities. Catholic processions, accompanied by a marching band and followed by festive eating and drinking on the town square, are still very common.

These traditions, coupled with the recreational opportunities provided by the Alps, has put Tyrol on the tourist map. Germans and Dutchmen favour the region for hiking in summer and skiing in winter. However, more and more tourists from other countries, such as Great Britain, the US and Asia, are discovering the charms of Tyrol.


Tyrolean mountain scene from Zirbenweg.
Typical Tyrolean mountain scene.
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About Linda de Beer 91 Articles
Name: Linda de Beer Profession: Travel blogger and freelance writer