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Kärnten, or Carinthia in English, is one of the nine federal lands constituting the state of Austria. Located in the southernmost part of Austria, Kärnten contributes to the state border with Slovenia to the southeast and Italy to the southwest. The land is bordered by the federal state of Salzburg to the northeast, Steiermark, or Styria, to the north, and Tirol to the west.[1] Carinthia is located in the mountainous part of the eastern Alps. The region's western part is called Upper Carinthia, which stretches toward the Alps. Austria's highest peak, Grossglockner, is on the western border with the Tirol region. In the eastern part of the region, Lower Carinthia, the Klagenfurt Basin is located, where most of the larger Carinthian lakes and cities are situated.[4] Nowadays, Kärnten is mainly visited for the relatively untouched mountainous nature, skiing, hiking, and cycling opportunities, and a considerable number of lakes offering water attractions. The area has a rich history, which left its marks throughout the region in the form of historic cities, castles, and museums.[6] 

What Karnten is known for

Due to the geographical conditions, with a significant number of mountains and hills surrounding the area, Kärnten is visited by various tourists who primarily come for winter sports recreation. The site also offers hiking and cycling opportunities during the summer; however, tourism typically peaks in the winter. Thirty-one ski areas can be found across Carinthia and East Tyrol, offering slopes of different lengths and difficulty. Nearly 800 km of slopes are adapted for skiing and snowboarding, yet the area also features numerous freeride areas. The Carinthia area also offers approximately 40 ski schools for kids. Ice-skating on the frozen lakes of the Kärnten land is another winter activity that visitors can engage in.[6] 

The mountains of Kärnten are intertwined with roads that offer panoramic views of the Alps and Kärnten nature. The Grossglockner high alpine road is one particularly notable scenic road, and it is said to be one of the "most famous" routes in Austria. The road leads into the Hohe Tauern National Park and the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner. For safety reasons, the road is open from May to October.[7]

Concerning the cultural and historical heritage of Carinthia, one of the more popular cities among tourists in the area is Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, where culture, history, and nature is said to meet. The city lies in the Klagenfurt Basin, on the shores of Wörthersee Lake. In the town is the Benediktinermarkt market, where farmers from Kärnten, Slovenia, and Italy come to sell homegrown fruit, vegetables, and herbs. The city is also home to the Kärnten land museum, modern art museum, and Eboardmuseum, which showcases musical instruments that were previously owned by Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and others. The city is also a starting point for various hiking trails. Furthermore, Wörthersee Lake is another notable attraction. The lake is available for swimming, and the beach offers a considerable number of bars and restaurants.[8] 

Castle Hochosterwitz is one of the predominant historical destinations in Carinthia, often considered one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The area of "the castle was first mentioned in 860." The ownership changed multiple times throughout the course of its existence. However, since the 16th century, no significant changes have been made to the building. Parts of the castle are currently open to the public.[9] The court is located on the hill and features 14 gates as well as a church at the top of the structure. Castle restaurant, serving traditional Carinthian medieval food, is also available for visitors.[10]


Kärnten is located in the southernmost part of Austria, contributing to the state border with Slovenia to the east and Italy to the west. The Klagenfurt Basin can be found in the south-eastern part of the region, where most of the larger Carinthian towns and lakes are situated. The basin is of inner Alpine sedimentary origin and covers approximately one-fifth of the Kärnten land. All of the eastern areas are often called Lower Carinthian lands. The mountainous Upper Carinthian region stretches towards the Alps in the northwestern direction. Kärnten is surrounded by mountains and hills. The Carnic Alps and the Karawank mountains form the natural border with Italy and Slovenia to the south. High Tauern mountain range separates Kärnten from the Salzburg federal state to the northwest. The Pack Saddle mountain pass separates Carinthia from Styria in the northeastern direction. Drava River is the main river flowing through the region. Wörther See is one of the most significant Carinthia lakes, located between the two important cities of the area, the capital, Klagenfurt and Villach. Other lakes located in the Klagenfurt Basin are Millstätter See, Lake Ossiach, and Lake Faak, all of which draw a fair amount of tourists annually.[2]

Regarding the natural conditions, approximately 15,000 animal species inhabit the area, of which about 150 are endemic to Carinthia. Flora in Carinthian is relatively diverse due to differences in the weather conditions between low-lying and mountainous areas.[4] The highest peak of Austria, Grossglockner, has an altitude of 3,798 m above sea level and is located on the border between Kärnten and Tirol federal state, which is part of the Glockner Group of the Hohe Tauern range. Austria's largest glacier, Pasterze, lies atop the peak.[5] 

A significant percentage of the Kärnten surface is used for forestry and agriculture, with major crops being wheat, rye, oats, corn, and fruits. Most of the forests are privately owned and controlled. Concerning the territory's mineral wealth, iron was mined in Kärnten in the past, as well as lead-zinc-molybdenum, magnesite, and lignite.[1] 

Kärnten is located in the temperate climate zone of Central Europe, with Mediterranean and Alpine influences. The annual temperature of the low-lying areas is approximately 22°C, whereas mountainous areas have average temperatures between 14-20°C. The warmest month is July, with maximum temperatures reaching 25°C. Mountainous areas in the west receive the most rainfall throughout the year. The driest areas in Kärnten are Krappfeld, Görtschitztal, and Unteres Lavantta.[4] 


Kärnten, also known as Carinthia in the English language, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Celtic tribes lived in the area, which later became a core of their kingdom called Noricum. During the Roman age, approximately 16 BC, Noricum became one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Later, various tribes, such as Avars, Slavs, and Bavarians, invaded the territory as the Roman Empire fell apart. In the 8th century, the Kärnten area was attached to Bavaria and further colonized by Bavarians. Thus, the Slavic population originally inhabiting the Kärnten land became gradually assimilated. In 967, Carinthia became an autonomic duchy and later part of Bohemia. In the 13th century, Kärnten became under the rule of German king Rudolf I Habsburg, who gifted it to the Tirol Count. In 1335, Kärnten was returned to the Habsburgs and became crown land.[1] 

In 1918, the Habsburg Monarchy fell apart. Kärnten was to become part of the German-Austria; however, it was agreed that southern "Yugoslav areas of settlement" should not be part of the state. After World War I, Slovene troops invaded Kärnten and occupied southern areas of the region for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia). According to the Treaty of Saint-Germain, a dispute was to be resolved by referendum, where people living in southern Carinthia could decide for themselves if they were to be part of Austria or Yugoslavia. However, the referendum was ineffective, and Yugoslavia removed its troops from Austria by 1920. During the Second World War, in the southeastern part of the region, Slovene Partisans were active, posing resistance against Nazi Germany. Towards the end of the war, Nazi troops surrendered to the forces of the British Army in the Kärnten territory. British forces also expelled Yugoslav troops who occupied parts of Carinthia once again. Carinthia became part of the UK occupation zone, which was terminated by the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. Austria regained its sovereignty, with Carinthia as one of the nine integrative federal lands or Bundesland in German.[2] 

The relations between Austrian and Slovene Carinthians are regarded as problematic to this day. The majority of the Kärnten population speaks German; however, southern portions of the region are inhabited mainly by the Slovene minority. The prevailing part of the population belongs to Roman Catholic Church. Protestant Church is the second highest in Carinthia federal state.[3]

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