Most Alpine countries classify settlements with a population of more than 10,000 inhabitants as cities or towns. Leaving out smaller towns in the Alpine context would result in a rather ‘empty’ map. However, many medium-sized and small towns provide vital functions and play an important role in the region’s spatial organisation. In the report, the definition of a town also tries to represent its functional role.
The result is the map to the right.
It reveals important spatial characteristics: An urban fringe surrounds the Alpine perimeter, while the inner-Alpine area has considerably fewer towns. The spatial orientation of inner-Alpine settlements is mostly linear, often in urbanised corridors along large valleys. Some small standalone towns are evidently important for their local context. This chapter examines what relevance towns have for the Alps, how we can deal with urbanisation and land-use patterns and how we can manage multi-functionality while maintaining quality of life for all.