Demographic changes (eg aging, migration and internationalization of the company), political and economic changes (eg EU enlargement, current economic and financial crisis, globalization), and last but not least technological progress as in the field of communication technology, or in the production technology does not dominate only the spatial and economic structures of the Styrian regions but also affect the ways of life and lifestyles of the people in the regions.
In addition, the expected effects of the climate change, more and more often bottlenecks of natural resources and thereby the reaction of energy prices as well as tightened up scopes of action of public budgets, require new concepts and strategies. The regions of Styria are characterized by different features in spatial and economic structure. 75 percent of the entire area is affected by mountain ranges, more as half of the area is woodland. The permanent settlement area focuses on the valley and basins.
The agglomeration of Graz and the highly industrialized regions of Upper Styria are in opposite to rural regions with small settlement size. The international connection of Styria has significantly improved through infrastructure development and the political changes in recent decades. Together with the modernized and technologically advanced industry and a dynamic tertiary sector, the attractiveness is increased and thus formed the economic basis.
Contrary to the national trend, the province of Styria features a significantly slower population growth, positive developments are mainly due to immigration from the EU countries. Also, the current forecasts do not anticipate a trend reversal.The individual regions are affected by these trends not only in varying degrees, the particular situation and the structural conditions offer different potentials and thus starting points for future development fields.
The metropolitan area of Styria is dominated topographically by the Graz Basin and the foothills of the Alps (Styrian mountain range, mountains around Graz). About 45% of the total area are attributed to permanent settlement area, the population density (239 inh./ km²) is far above the Styrian average (74 inh./ km²). Settlement and economic center of gravity is the provincial capital of Graz, the cities Koeflach (9,757 inhabitants in 2011) and Voitsberg (9,676 inhabitants) are classified as regional centers.
Importance as partly regional supply centers have Baernbach, Deutschfeistritz, Eggersdorf bei Graz, Feldkirchen bei Graz, Frohnleiten, Gratkorn, Gratwein, Hausmannstaetten, Hitzendorf, Judendorf-Straßengel, Kalsdorf bei Graz, Kumberg, Lassnitzhoehe, Lieboch, Raaba, St. Marein bei Graz, Sankt Radegund bei Graz, Seiersberg, Semriach, Uebelbach and Unterpremstaetten.
The metropolitan area of Styria is one of the largest urban agglomerations within Austria. The Economic structure is dominated by the service sector, while single sites in the region (Koeflach-Voitsberg-Baernbach) look back on a long tradition of mining and industry. The population growth in the metropolitan area of Graz and in areas along the higher order roads is very dynamic.