Kingdom of Vorarlberg
"Glory to the Fatherland"
"Hail to the King"
|Central Europe |
|Official language(s)||English (EN), German (DE)|
|Demonym||Vorarlberger (masculine) Vorarlbergerin (feminine)|
|Government||Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy|
|- Monarch||King Wilhelm I|
|- Prime Minister||Micheal Riechenbach|
|- Type||- Unicameral|
|- Number of seats||- 25|
|Established||5 November 2014|
|Area claimed||2,601.96 km2 (1,004.62 sq mi)|
|Population||373,058 (2015 Census)|
|Currency||Vorarlberger Krone (VRK) (kr)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
Vorarlberg, officially the Kingdom of Vorarlberg (German: Königreich Vorarlberg, German pronunciation: [ˈfoːɐ̯ʔaʁlbɛʁk]), is a landlocked, German-speaking microstate with limited recognition in Central Europe.
Vorarlberg is bordered by Germany to the north, Austria to the east, Switzerland to the west and south, and Liechtenstein to the southwest. It has an area just over 2,600 square kilometres (1,000 square miles) and a population of 373,058. Divided into 10 municipalities, its capital and largest city is Bergenz.
Economically, Vorarlberg is predicted to have one of the highest gross domestic product per person in the world when adjusted by purchasing power parity. It is also predicted to be one of the richest (by measure GDP per capita) country in the world, after Qatar, Liechtenstein, and Austria
An alpine country, Vorarlberg is mainly mountainous, making it a winter sports destination. Many cultivated fields and small farms are found in both the north and south. Upon independence, Vorarlberg intends to become a member of the European Free Trade Association, European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Before the Romans conquered Vorarlberg, there were two Celtic tribes settled in this area: the Raeti in the highlands, and the Vindelici in the lowlands, i.e. the Lake Constance region and the Rhine Valley. One of the important settlements of the Vindelici was Brigantion (modern Bregenz), founded around 500 BC. Vorarlberg was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC. Following the Roman conquest, Vorarlberg became part of the provice of Raetia. The first settlements in and around Bergenz date from 1500 BC. A Celtic tribe named "Brigantii" is mentioned by Strabo as a sub-tribe in these regions of the Alps. It was later conquered by the Alamanni tribes in ~450 AD.
It then fell under the rule of the Bavarians and was subsequently settled by the Bavarians and the Lombards. It later fell under the rule of the Counts of Montfort until 1525, when the Habsburgs took control.
The historically Germanic province, which was a gathering together of former bishoprics, was still ruled in part by a few semi-autonomous counts and surviving the prince-bishops until the start of World War I. Vorarlberg was part of Further Austria, and parts of the area were ruled by the Counts Montfort of Vorarlberg.
Following World War I there was a desire by many in Vorarlberg to join Switzerland. In a referendum held in Vorarlberg on 11 May 1919, over 80% of those voting supported a proposal for the state to join the Swiss Confederation. However, this was prevented by the opposition of the Austrian government, the Allies, Swiss liberals, and the Swiss-Italians and the Swiss-French.
Folllowing World War II, Vorarlberg found itself occupied by French troops from 1945 and 1955, along with most of the Tyrol province.
Vorarlberg remained a part of Austria throughout the remainder of the 20th century, until the 21st century on 5 November 2014 when the self proclaimed King Wilhelm I declared the small parcel of land as his own sovereign nation. Currently the territory is still officially recognized as a part of Austria by most of the world, however, in a few years King Wilhelm I will begin independence movements.
Vorarlberg has a constitutional monarch as Head of State, and an elected parliament which enacts law. It is also a direct democracy, where voters can propose and enact constitutional amendments and legislation independent of the legislature. The Constitution of Vorarlberg has been under development since late 2014, and is expect to be completed by the Summer of 2015. The constitution will establish Vorarlberg as a constitutional monarchy headed by the reigning King of the Royal House of Vorarlberg. A parliamentary system will be established, although the reigning King will retain substantial political authority.
Head of State - The King
The reigning King is the Head of State and represents Vorarlberg in its international relations. The King may veto laws adopted by parliament. The King can call referenda, propose new legislation, and dissolve parliament, although the dissolution of parliament may be subject to a referendum.
Head of Government - The Prime Minister
Executive authority is vested in a collegiate government comprising the Head of Government (Prime Minister) and four government councilors (Ministers). The Head of Government and the other ministers are appointed by the King upon the proposal and concurrence of parliament, thus reflecting the partisan balance of parliament. The constitution stipulates that at least two members of the government are collectively and individually responsible to parliament; parliament may ask the King to remove and individual minister or the entire government.
Landtag - Parliament
Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral Landtag made up of 25 members elected for maximum four-year terms according to the proportional representation formula. Parties must receive at least 8% of the national vote to win seats in parliament, i.e. enough for 2 seats in the 25-seat legislature. Parliament proposes and approves a government, which is formally appointed by the King. Parliament may also pass votes of no confidence in the entire government or individual members.
Landesausschuss - National Committee
Parliament elects from among it members a "Landesausschuss" (National Committee) made up of the President of the Parliament and four additional members. The National Committee is charged with performing parliamentary oversight functions. Parliament can call for referenda on proposed legislation. Parliament shares the authority to propose new legislation with the King and with the number of citizens require for an initiative referendum.
Judicial authority is vested in the Regional Court at Bregenz, the Royal High Court of Appeal at Bregenz, the Royal Supreme Court, the Administrative Court, and the State Court. The State Court rules on the conformity of laws with the constitution and has five members elected by parliament.
Every citizen of Vorarlyberg of age 18+ can legally vote. This is regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Military - His Majesty's Armed Forces
Vorarlberg has a small standing army that is primarily used to defend the territory and to participate in ceremonial events. It can be deployed internationally to help with peacekeeping efforts or for disaster relief. HM Armed Forces are divided into two main branches - the Royal Army and the Royal Air Force. The Royal Army's primary role is land warfare. The Royal Air Force's main role is to provide transportation, logistics, and combat support to the Royal Army. The Kingdom of Vorarlberg does not have a navy as it is a landlocked nation, however, the Royal Police Force maintains a naval presence in Lake Constance. HM Armed Forces follow standard NATO organisation procedures as well as the NATO raking system.
The main rivers in Vorarlberg are the Ill (running through the Montafon and Walgau valleys into the Rhine), the Rhine (forming the border with Switzerland), the Bregenzer Ach and the Dornbirner Ach. One of the shortest rivers is the Galina. Important lakes, apart from Lake Constance are Luner Lake, Silvretta Lake, Vermunt Lake, Spuller Lake, the Kops Basin and Formarin Lake; the first four were created for the produciton of hydroelectric energy. However, even before the dam for the power plant was built, Luener lake was the largest mountain lake in the Alps. Most of this hydroelectric energy is exported to Germany at peak times. At night, energy from power plants Germany is used to pump water back into some of the lakes.
As there are several notable mountain ranges in Vorarlberg, such as the Silvretta, the Ratikon, the Verwall and the Arlberg, there are many well-known skiing regions (Arlberg, Montafon, Bregenzerwal) and ski resorts (Lech, Zuers, Schruns, Warth, Damuels, Brand and many more). Damuels is also recognized as the municipality with the most annual snowfall worldwide (on average 9.30 metres/30.5 feet). The highest mountain is Piz Buin, whose rocky peak of 3,312 metres (10,866 feet) is surrounded by glaciers. Vorarlberg is supposed to enjoy the greatest scenic diversity within limited confines in the entire Eastern Alps; it adjoins the Western Alps. The distance from Lake Constance and the plains of the Rhine Valley across the the medium altitude and high alpine zones to the glaciers of the Silvretta range is a mere 90 km (56 mi).
Vorarlberg is divided into four large districts, from north to south: Bregenz, Dornbirn, Feldkirch and Bludenz. These districts appear on the automobile license plates in the form of abbreviations: B, DO, FK, and BZ.
In the microstate perspective, Vorarlberg does not yet have much of an economy as it has no trading partners. However, upon independence, Vorarlberg is expected to have one of the best economies in the entire world. Currently, Vorarlberg's regional product per inhabitant is 31,000 EUR, which exceeds the Austrian average by 8%. Vorarlberg and especially the Rhine Valley is one of the wealthiest areas in the world, with a very high standard of living. In addition to the flourishing textile, clothing, electronics, machinery, and packing materials industries of the Rhine Valley, there is also a broad agricultural base, especially in the Bregenz Forest (Bregenzerwald), which is noted for its diary products (especially due to the "KaeseStrasse Bregenzerwal", an association of farmers, restauranteurs, craftspeople and traders promoting the Bregenz Forest agriculture and its local products) and tourism. The tourist industry empolys a considerable number of Vorarlbergers. The greatest tourist attractions are the mountains and the numerous ski resorts, the largest (and best-known) of which are:
- the Bregenz Forest
- the Arlberg region (including the high-class ski resorts Lech and Zuers)
- the Brandnertal
- the Montafon
- the Kleinwalsertal
- the Grosswalsertal
Prominent skiers from the regions include Anita Wachter, Egon Zimmernamm, Gerhard Nenning, Mario Reiter, Hubert Strolz, and Hannes Schnider, as well as the ski-jumper Toni Innauer.
The population of Vorarlberg is 373,000. The majority (86%) of residents are of Austrian-Germanic stock with a cultural connection with Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west and Germany to the north. A sizable proportion of the population's ancestors came from the Swiss canton of Valais in migrations of "Walsers", including the Swiss French in the 19th century by invitation during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There has been a sizable minority of Turkish descent since the 1960's.onsiderably from each other. In fact, even within these regions, the dialects may vary from one village to the next.
78% of the population is Roman Catholic, which puts Vorarlberg in line with the national Austrian average of 73.6%. The second largest denomination, with a share of 8.4%, is Islam. 7,817 (or 2.2%) of Vorarlberg's inhabitants are Protestants.
Owing to their location isolated from the rest of Austria, most people in Vorarlberg speak a very distinct German dialect that other Austrians have difficulty understanding, since the dialects in the rest of Austria form part of the Bavarian-Austrian language group, whereas the Vorarlberg dialect is part of the Alemannic dialect continuum. Alemannic dialects are also spoken in Liechtenstein, Switzerland (as Swiss German), Baden-Wuerttemberg, the southwest of Bavarai and the Alsace region of France. The Vorarlberg dialect is further divided into a number of regional sub-dialects (e.g. that of the Montafon, the Bregenz Forest, and the Lustenau are some of the most distinct) which tend to differ considerably from each other. In fact, even within these regions, the dialects may vary from one village to the next.