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The Raeti were a confederation of Alpine tribes, whose language and culture may have been related to those of Etruscans. From not later than ca. 500 BC, they inhabited the central parts of present-day Switzerland, Tyrol in Austria, the Alpine regions of northeastern Italy and Germany south of the Danube. The Roman province of Raetia was named after these people.
Ancient sources characterise the Raeti as Etruscan people who were displaced from the Po valley by the Gauls and took refuge in the valleys of the Alps. But it is likely that they were predominantly indigenous Alpine people. Their language, the so-called Raetian language, was probably related to Etruscan, but may not have derived from it. At least some of the Raeti tribes (those in northeastern Italy) probably continued to speak the Raetian language as late as the 3rd century AD. Others (those in Switzerland) were probably Celtic-speaking by the era of the Roman emperor Augustus (ruled 30 BC – AD 14).
The Raeti were divided into numerous tribes, but only some of these are clearly identified in the ancient sources.
The Raeti tribes, together with those of their Celtic-speaking neighbours to the north, the Vindelici, were subjugated by the Imperial Roman army in 15 BC and their territories annexed to the Roman empire. The Roman province of Raetia et Vindelicia was named after these two peoples. The Raeti tribes quickly became loyal subjects of the empire and contributed disproportionate numbers of recruits to the imperial Roman army's auxiliary corps.