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Trentino Alto Adige - Population and Economy

The population of the region is derived from three different ethnic groups (66.4% German, 29.4% Italian, 4.2% Rhaeto-Romanic, in the province of Bolzano).

It is almost equally distributed between the two provinces with a slight majority in the Province of Trent. The most densely populated areas are the two main towns, Val Lagarini, lower Val Isarco and the area around Merano.

Progressive, if slow, urbanization is taking place in the main towns; today, more than a third of the region's inhabitants live in small mountain communities. Depopulation of the mountain areas is more evident in Trentino, in the areas only marginally affected by tourism.

In contrast, in Alto Adige people are strongly attached to the land and an unusual law of inheritance and farm ownership (the maso chiuso) meaning that land cannot be split up among heirs but passes in its entirety to the eldest son, absolute head of a family-run farm, tends to reduce population drift.

There has been progressive migration of the Italian-speaking populace in the Province of Bolzano (two-thirds are German-speaking), who have concentrated almost entirely in the chief town and in some of the larger towns (especially Merano).

There is a considerable flow of seasonal workers from Venetia and the regions in the south of Italy, attracted by the jobs available in hotels and tourist resorts.

The Province of Trent, almost entirely Italian-speaking, is characterized by the presence of dialects, some of Venetian origin and some Lombard (especially from Brescia).

The bilingual Province of Bolzano (German and Italian) has a small Rhaeto-Romanic Ladin speaking population; this dialect originates directly from Latin and is a characteristic of the ethnic group living in Val Gardena, Val Badia and part of Val Pusteria.

From an economic point of view, the regional standard of living is on the average higher than the national.

In Alto-Adige agriculture is characterized by the maso chiuso system, and in Trentino by a certain fractioning of the land, still of considerable importance.

The principal cereal grown is rye. Fruit is extensively grown (Adige Valley, lower Val Isarco, Val di Non, Val Venosta) and the region has the highest apple production in Italy. Vine growing is widespread and high quality wines are obtained.

Other important primary activities are forestry, (approximately 17% of Italy's timber for processing) and livestock breeding (especially cattle) which provides the basis for a flourishing dairy industry. Mining is limited (uranium, copper, fluorite, baryta, marble, asphaltic rock, in small quantities).

Naturally, the industrial sector with the heaviest concentration of large factories along the Adige Valley has a high output of hydroelectric power (as a result of the vast quantities of water available) and is thus second only to Lombardy.

There are industrial areas of a certain size at Trent, Bolzano, Rovereto and Merano, all of which developed after the Second World War.

The main industries are steel and metal-working (Bolzano, Rovereto), engineering (Bolzano, Trent), chemicals (Trent, Bolzano, Merano), paper, textiles and food (canning, breweries).

The service sector is closely linked to the massive flow of tourists, both in summer and winter, and to the many and well-equipped holiday resorts.

Commercial, financial and administrative activities are concentrated in the two chief towns. Local crafts include wood-carving in Val Gardena, copper-working in Val Sugana, and weaving at Merano, Brunico and Rovereto (silk).

In spite of the prevalently mountainous terrain, Trentino-Alto Adige, an obligatory corridor between the Mediterranean and Central Europe, has a good communications network centred on the mainline railway and motorway linking Verona to the Italian-Austrian Brenner Pass.

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