The Austrian Littoral


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. The Austrian Littoral is Number 10 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Austrian Littoral (known in German as Küstenland) was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that comprised the counties of Istria (in present-day Croatia and Slovenia) and Gorizia-Gradisca (in present-day Slovenia) and the city and district of Trieste (in present-day Italy). The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions devoted to these different jurisdictions. The section on social and political conditions deals with the Austrian Littoral as a whole. The region is said to have “experienced the vicissitudes of a frontier province,” on which the Romans, Goths, Franks, Habsburgs, Venetians, and others all left their mark. A table in the appendix gives a detailed breakdown by district of the ethnic composition of the region, based on the Austrian census of 1910. The Italians were the largest group in the Austrian Littoral, followed by Slovenes, Serbo-Croats, and Germans. The study notes that the “Italians look towards Italy, the Germans toward Austria, the Slavs to an independent Jugo-Slavia.” Also included in the appendix are a listing of place-names with their Slavic and Italian equivalents and several tables summarizing trade conducted through the major port of Trieste.

Last updated: February 18, 2015