East Tirol, alpine region, comprises the uppermost Drau/Drava valley, the Isel valley, its side valleys (Defereggen, Virgen, Tauern and Kalsertal valleys) and the headwater region of the River Gail; encircled by high mountains, the Hohe Tauern mountains with Glockner and Venediger mountains in the north, Rieserferner mountains to the west, the Schober mountains (all glaciated) to the east, and the Karnisch Alps and Lienz Dolomites in the south; crossed in the south by the ancient transit route between the Pustertal and Oberdrautal valleys, with passes to the Gail valley (Kartitscher Sattel), Moell valley (Iselsberg) and the upper Salzach valley (Felber Tauern pass, the shortest distance between East and North Tirol, with Felber-Tauern Tunnel, 5304 m). The valley communities still celebrate village festivals, old customs and traditions; Paarhof farmsteads, typical of Austrian inner alpine regions, and the East Tirolian Einhof farmstead types dominate. The economy is mainly based on cattle raising, forestry and tourism. Increase in trade and industry since 1960 (EGO Austria Electric Appliances in Heinfels, Liebherr-Werk Lienz, refrigerators).
East Tirol was separated from North Tirol in 1919 when South Tirol was ceded to Italy, and Corridor Traffic between North and East Tirol through South Tirol was arranged with Italy. East Tirol forms the political district of Lienz (2,020 km2, pop. 48,338) with the city of Lienz as administrative, economic and cultural centre and traffic junction; it comprises the market towns of Matrei in Osttirol and Sillian (border station to Italy) as well as 30 municipalities. The ruins of Aguntum are the remains of a Roman settlement; settled by Slavs in the early Middle Ages (hence "Windisch-Matrei"), it formed the western part of their territory of Karantania and later became part of Carinthia. East Tirol belonged to the County of Goricia for a long time, was incorporated into Austria and united with Tirol in 1500, while smaller regions were under the rule of Salzburg and Brixen. East Tirol was part of Bavaria between 1805-1809, between 1809-1814 it belonged to the Illyrian provinces of France, the area fell back to the Habsburgs in 1815. Between 1938-1945 East Tirol belonged to Carinthia, 1945-1955 it was part of the English occupation zone.
Literature#M. Hornung, Rauchkueche und Rauchstube in Osttirol, 1964; L. Ebner, Kartitsch in Osttirol - Vergangenheit und Gegenwart einer osttiroler Berggemeinde, 1982; H. W. Buchenauer, Gletscher und Blockgletscher. Geschichte der westlichen Schobergruppe (Osttirol), 1990; Bezirkskunde Osttirol, ed. by Kath. Ti. Lehrerverein, 1993.