1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vorarlberg
VORARLBERG, the most westerly province of the Austrian empire, extending S. of the Lake of Constance along the right bank of the Rhine valley. It consists of three districts, Bregenz, Bludenz and Feldkirch, which are under the administrative authority of the Statthaltcr (or prefect) at Innsbruck, but possess a governor and a diet of their own (twenty-one members), and send four members to the imperial parliament. Vorarlberg is composed of the hilly region of the Bregenzerwald, and, to its south, of the mountain valley of Montafon or of the upper Ill, through which an easy pass, the Zeinisjoch (6076 ft.), leads to the Tirolese valley of Paznaun, and so to Landeck. Near Bludenz the Kloster glen parts from the Ill valley, through the latter runs the Arlberg railway (1884)—beneath the pass of that name (5912 ft.)—to Landeck and Innsbruck. The Ill valley is bounded south by the snowy chain of the Rhätikon (highest point, the Scesaplana, 9741 ft., a famous view-point), and of the Silvretta (highest point, Gross Piz Buin, 10,880 ft.), both dividing Vorarlberg from Switzerland; slightly to the north-east of Piz Buin is the Dreiländerspitze (10,539 ft.), where the Vorarlberg, Tirolese and Swiss frontiers unite.
The total area of Vorarlberg is 1004·3 sq. m. Of this 881%, or about 886 sq. m., is reckoned “productive,” 30% of this limited area being occupied by forests, while 118 sq. m. rank as “unproductive.” In 1900 the total population was 129,237, all but wholly German-speaking and Romanist. The largest town is Dornbirn (pop. 13,052), but Bregenz (pop. 7595) is the political capital; Feldkirch has about 4000 inhabitants, while Bludenz has rather more (sec the separate articles on the three former). In the hilly districts the inhabitants mainly follow pastoral pursuits, possessing much cattle of all kinds. In the towns the spinning and weaving of cotton (introduced towards the end of the 18th century) is very flourishing. Forests cover about one-sixth of the district, and form one of the principal sources of its riches. But the Vorarlberg is predominantly an Alpine region, though its mountains rarely surpass the snow-level. Ecclesiastically it is in the diocese of Brixen, whose vicar-general (a suffragan bishop) resides at Feldkirch.
The name of the district means the “land that is beyond the Arlberg Pass,” that is, as it seems to one looking at it from the Tirol. This name is modern and is a collective appellation for the various counties or lordships in the region which the Habsburgs (after they secured Tirol in 1363) succeeded in purchasing or acquiring—Feldkirch (1375, but Hohenems in 1765 only), Bludenz with the Montafon valley (1394), Bregenz (in two parts, 1451 and 1523) and Sonnenberg (1455). After the annexation of Hohenems (its lords having become extinct in 1759), Maria Theresa united all these lordships into an administrative district of Hither Austria, under the name Vorarlberg, the governor residing at Bregenz. In 1782 Joseph II. transferred the region to the province of Tirol. The lordship of Blumenegg was added in 1804, but in 1805 all these lands were handed over, by virtue of the peace of Pressburg, to Bavaria, which in 1814 gave them all back, save Hoheneck. In 1815 the present administrative arrangements were made.