VORARLEERG, 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 Statthalter (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 111, 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 111 valley, through the latter runs the Arlberg railway (1884) beneath the pass of that name (5912 ft.) to Landeck and Innsbruck. The 111 valley is bounded south by the snowy chain of the Rhatikon (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 Dreilanderspitze (10,539 ft.), where the Vorarlberg, Tirolese and Swiss frontiers unite.
The total area of Vorarlberg is 1004-3 S Q- m - Of this 88J%, 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 (see 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 snowlevel. 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 (i4SS)- 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.
See A. Achleitner and E. Ubl, Tirol und Vorarlberg (Leipzig, 1895) ; . R. von Bergmar.n, Landeskunde v. Vorarlberg (Innsbruck, 1868); flax Haushofer, Tirol und Vorarlberg (Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1890); k. C. Heer, Vorarlberg und Liech'enstein Land und Leute ( Feldirch, 1906); O. von Pfister, Das Afontavon (Augsburg, 1884); J. Staffler, Tirol und Vorarlberg (5 vols., Innsbruck, 1839-46); A. Steinkzer, Geschichtliche und Kulturgeschichtliche Wanderungen durch Tirol und Vorarlberg (Innsbruck, 1905); A. Waltenberger, Algdu, Vorarlbero und Westtirol (loth edition, Innsbruck, 1906). See also the list of books at the end of TIROL, and especially vol. xiii. (" Tirol u. Vorarlberg ") (Vienna, 1893) of the great official work entitled Die oesterreichisch-ungarische Monarchic in Wort *nd Bud.
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)