The Pustertal (English: Puster Valley; Italian: Val Pusteria) is a valley in the Alps that runs in an east-west direction between Lienz in East Tyrol, Austria and Mühlbach near Brixen in South Tyrol, Italy. The municipalities of the Pustertal constitute the Pustertal district.
The Pustertal valley is located in the western part of the Periadriatic Seam, which separates the Southern Limestone Alps from the Central Alps, as well as most of the limestone Alps from the central gneiss and slate peaks of the range's central section. Half of the valley drains to the west to the Adriatic via the Adige river; the other half drains to the east to the Black Sea via the Danube. The watershed lies in the shallow valley floor called the Toblacher Feld. The Rienz river flows westwards through the Pustertal valley and the Drau river flows eastwards into East Tyrol. The eastern part of the valley is called the Hochpustertal (High Puster Valley).
The towns of the Pustertal are located between 750 and 1,180 meters above sea level. The most important of these towns in the western valley are Toblach, Welsberg-Taisten, Olang, and Bruneck; the most important in the eastern valley are Innichen, Sillian, and Mittewald.
The largest tributaries of the Rienz river form the Antholzer Bach, the Ahr, the Pragser Bach, the Gsieser Bach, the Gran Ega, the Pfunderer Bach, and the Lüsenbach. The Pustertal's largest side valley is the Tauferer Ahrntal. The Drau's largest eastern tributaries are the Sextner Bach and the Villgraten-Bach.
The Pustertal district (German: Bezirksgemeinschaft Pustertal; Italian: Comprensorio della Val Pusteria) was founded in 1969 with the merger of 26 municipalities. Its combined area is 2,071 km² and its population is over 73,000. Its main town is Bruneck. According to the 2001 census, 80.96% of the population of the valley speak German, 13.40% Ladin and 5.64% Italian as mother language.
The following municipalities are part of the Bezirksgemeinschaft Pustertal:
- Bevölkerung und soziales Leben, Statistisches Jahrbuch 2006, p. 120, tab. 3.19