(tĭr'ŏl, tīrōl'), Ger. Tirol, region and province (1991 pop. 631,410), 4,882 sq mi (12,644 sq km), W Austria. Innsbruck is the capital. The southern section of the historic region are now in Italy. Bordering on Germany in the north and on Italy and Switzerland in the south, it is an almost wholly Alpine region, traversed by the Inn River. The main part of the province is separated from the fertile East Tyrol (Ger. Osttirol) by a corridor belonging partly to Italy and partly to Salzburg prov., Austria. The Tyrolean Alps, which culminate in the Ötztal Alps, are famed for their idyllic beauty and attract many tourists, thus supplementing income from the exploitation of the province's limited natural resources. Tourist centers include Kitzbühel, Kufstein, Sankt Anton, and Zell am See. Pasture farming, cattle raising, forestry, and dairy farming are the main occupations in the rural areas. Some industry is located at Innsbruck, Landeck, and Kufstein, including chemical, electrochemical, and pharmaceutical manufactures. The saltworks near Solbad Hall are an important source of revenue. The now little-worked silver and copper mines of Tyrol, known since antiquity, and its strategic position commanding the Brenner Pass across the Alps gave the region a fairly important role in European history.
The Tyrol was inhabited by Rhaetic tribes when it was conquered (15 B.C.) by the Romans. It was invaded (6th cent. A.D.) by Teutonic tribes, the Baiovarii and the Lombards, and later by the Franks, who held all Tyrol by the 8th cent. Large parts of S Tyrol (now in Italy) were ruled from the 11th cent. to 1802–3 by the bishops of Trent and by the bishops of Brixen (see Bressanone). The two bishoprics were secularized and fell to Austria in consequence of the Peace of Lunéville (1801) between France and Austria. The northern section (constituting the present Tyrol), first divided into petty counties, was united under the counts of Tyrol and passed, with the abdication (1363) of Margaret Maultasch, to Austria and the Hapsburgs.
In 1805 the Treaty of Pressburg awarded all Tyrol to Napoleon's ally, Bavaria, but when war broke out (1809) between France and Austria the Tyrolean peasants, led heroically by Andreas Hofer, rose in revolt and stubbornly defied the French and Bavarian troops. In 1810, Napoleon, at variance with Maximilian I of Bavaria, attached most of S Tyrol to Italy. Both parts were restored (1815) to Austria by the Congress of Vienna. The Treaty of Saint-Germain (1919) awarded S Tyrol (the predominantly German-speaking province of Bolzano and the predominantly Italian-speaking province of Trento) to Italy. The ruthless Italianization policy of the Fascist government created much unrest and friction in the period between the two World Wars, and the situation remained unsettled until the 1970s (see Trentino–Alto Adige). The Italian constitution of 1947 gave South Tyrol the status of an autonomous region, with full protection of minority rights, but real autonomy was not achieved until 1972.