Open Access

Vienna’s South-Eastern Hinterlands: Regional Development in the Austrian-Hungarian Border Area, 1910–2011


Formed from the westernmost territories of Hungary, Burgenland became a part of Austria a hundred years ago. The aim of the paper is to answer the question of how Burgenland became integrated into the Austrian society and economy, how its regional inequalities and rural character changed in comparison to the neighbouring Austrian and Hungarian areas, under the influence of Vienna’s major role. The analysis is based on the census data of 1910, 1960/61, 2001 and 2011 and on the mapping of different social and economic indicators. Our data revealed that one hundred years ago, the northern, more prosperous area of Western Hungary was an integral part of the rural hinterland of the imperial capital, Vienna, in stark contrast to the region’s southern periphery. After World War II, however, a steep west-east gradient emerged in the borderland along the Iron Curtain, while the traditional north-south disparity continued to exist on both sides of the new border. During the political transformation in the early 1990s, and even more after Hungary’s EU accession (2004), the former hard border ceased to exist in this region, while Vienna regained its former economic importance and influence. After 1990, the patterns of regional disparities changed rapidly in Hungary, and the western part achieved a leading position within Hungary in every dimension of economic prosperity. In line with this, while the Austrian rural regions in Burgenland and between Vienna and Graz showed remarkable infrastructural progress, Southern Burgenland remained peripheral regarding economic activity.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Ecology, other