Geography and economy
Located in the productive North East of Italy, the Veneto Region extends on a total area of about 1,8 million hectares, of which about 50% is covered by agricultural land, 25% by forests and the rest by urban and industrial areas, inland waters and sterile land. Resident population at present is about 4,5 million inhabitants, 8% of the total Italian population, with a high population density (247 inhab./Kmq). Geographically, the Region is quite diversified: the lower part ? the Po Valley ? is completely flat. Here, the main towns ? Venezia, Padova, Verona, Rovigo, Vicenza and Treviso ? and the infrastructures are to be found. Also the main agricultural and economic activities are concentrated in the lower areas: crops are mainly corn, beetroot and soybeans; the Region is also important for animal production in dairy and meat farms (beef, pigs and pultry). Fishing and mussel farming are practised in the Venice and Chioggia Lagoons in the Adriatic Sea. The main industrial activities ? chemical and mechanical groups ? are also to be found in the Po Valley, along with services: banks, insurance companies and tourist infrastructures.
Going north, an intermediate hilly and pre-alpine belt crosses the Region fron West to East: it is an area well-known for its beautiful landscapes, made of vineyards, chestnut and olive groves, where famous Italian red and white wines are produced. At the mountain foot, some important industrial activities are located, with industrial groups producing household appliances having their production sites here. Also other important industries are located in the Veneto Region, mainly in this area, i.e. the most important industrial districts for furniture, producing about 30% of the total Italian furniture market.
The Northern part of the Region includes a wide Dolomite area, with important Alpine peaks and glaciers, outstanding scenarios and famous tourist resorts like Cortina d?Ampezzo. Here, the economy is linked to the most renowned production of spectacles, along with a flourishing tourist industry both in summer and in winter.
The Veneto Region can be considered one of the most dynamic economic realities of Italy, as well as a bridge towards the Eastern European Countries. However, the economic development of the Region is somewhat uneven, with areas like the central Po Valley, benefiting of a flourishing economy along with areas, like the most remote Alpine valleys or the marginal agricultural areas of the Po delta, where depopulation, unemployment and land abandonment occur and serious environmental degradation problems have emerged.
The mountains areas of the Veneto Region
In terms of area, mountainous territories are rather important within the Veneto region, as they cover as much as 1/3 of the total Regional surface ? i.e. 535 thousand hectares over a total of 1836 thousand hectares. However, mountain areas host only 8,3% of regional population, i.e. 313 thousand people, while most of the residents in the Region live in the Po Plain or in the illy areas. In average ? in the period 1999-2001 ? the resident population in each Municipality was about 2.600 residents: depopulation, emigration and aging of residents have indeed characterised the mountainous areas of the Veneto Region, 120 are completely located in mountain areas ? i.e. all the municipalities of the Province of Belluno, 32 in the Province of Vicenza, 16 the Province of Verona and 3 in the Province of Treviso. In addition, other 38 Municipalities are classified as partially mountainous. Of the total land are in the Venetian mountains, 227 thousand hectares were urban and sterile land (including peaks and glaciers), 158 thousand hectares were covered by forests, 102 thousand hectares were farmed (mainly pastures and grassland) and 48 thousand hectares was idle land. Agriculture and forestry are therefore the most diffuse land uses, but not the most productive. Economic marginality, isolation, lack of infrastructures, harsh climate, fragmentation of land ownership have always characterised the primary production in the mountain areas, so that abandonment of agricultural and forest activities is now a widespread evidence.