An interesting melting pot
The long common history of the four member countries of the CENTROPE region contributed to the birth of an original mix of cultures and peoples that not even 40 years of political separation could destroy.
The different areas of the CENTROPE region are characterized by a mixture of peoples and a number of minorities. These come often from other CENTROPE member regions or from other countries and contribute to the richness of the region. The healthy economic situation of the region, ample job opportunities as well as an attractive living space attract people from other parts of Europe or elsewhere. For instance, the Vienna region population is by almost 21% composed of foreigners without Austrian citizenship and around 36% of Viennese population has a migration background.
Minorities in general are an important part of CENTROPE’s demographic structure and every CENTROPE member country has its specific characteristics. In Austria, the Germans represent the main minority, whereas in the Czech Republic the first places are occupied by the Ukrainians and the Slovaks. The most important Hungarian minorities are without any doubt Romanians in 2007 form almost 40% of all foreigners living in Hungary. The Ukrainians represent the second largest minority, with almost 10%. In Slovakia, the Czechs represent the most important minority in the country (roughly 13% of the foreign population), followed by Ukrainians (around 9%).
In South Moravia, Ukrainians have become the biggest minority since approximately the mid-2000, whereas the Slovak population represents in 2009 more than 60% of the immigrants from the European Union. An important part of the foreign population in each region comes from the other CENTROPE regions. Minorities play also an important role in this multicultural region. Among the most numerous of them are the Roma, whose actual number is, however, difficult to estimate, as only a fraction of them declares to be of actual Roma nationality.
The CENTROPE region is a place of extended mobility due to the proximity of densely inhabited areas and several urban agglomerations and also the still persisting disparities among the member regions. This mobility manifests itself not only on the touristic level, but also spans into the field of labour and economic activity. Thus, cross-border commuting already is an important feature of the economy of CENTROPE, even though until May 2011 the access to Austrian labour market is restricted for workers from new member states (except for Romania and Bulgaria, to which the Austrian labour market will open in 2014).
Thus CENTROPE constitutes an interesting melting pot, where four languages and four cultures meet at a short geographic distance.